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Issue No. 176 02 May 2003  

Solidarity Forever
Another May Day, another year gone, another year to look back on our history and celebrate the past and talk about how we can make our movement strong again.


Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney�s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week�s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney�s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.


 Mystery Men Behind Pan Bungle

 Charities Brace for Medicare Backlash

 Court Throws Out Cole Prosecutions

 Child Actor Dodges Broken Voice

 Rio Tinto: $40 Million for Boss, Eviction for Workers

 Child Care for Oldies Too

 Winning Poster Shouts at Freeloaders

 May Day Tragedy Claims Union Lives

 Westfield Cleaners to Down Mops

 Question Marks Over Nursing Home

 Burn Payout Highlights Compo Fears

 Costa Blows Whistle on Canberra Raid

 Hoops Bet on National Body

 Tear Us Down, Buttercup

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who�s counting.

Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.

 Is Labor History?
 Bob Gould Sprays Gerard Henderson
 War and Peace
 A Strange Light
 A Little History
 Does It Have To Be?
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Court Throws Out Cole Prosecutions

Another court has delivered a blow to the credibility of the Cole Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry.

A Melbourne magistrate has dismissed contempt charges against Victorian CFMEU secretary, Martin Kingham, and awarded costs against the Federal Director of Public Prosecutions.

Kingham had been referred to the DPP by Royal Commissioner Terence Cole who had been incensed by the union official's refusal to provide lists of delegates who had done training courses, along with names and contact details of trainers.

Kingham told the Commissioner he would not identifiy delegates in an environment where activists had were black-banned by employers, and where unionists had been followed, spied on and had their private financial transactions picked over by Royal Commission agents.

Cole had initially threatened action against a former school teacher who worked for the Victorian branch's training unit but then shifted his attention to Kingham.

In dismissing charges that carried possible jail sentences, Magistrate John Hardy said he hadn't been convinced the documents even existed or, if they did, that Kingham had control of them.

Hardy had earlier dismissed another charge, ruling it constituted a threat of double punishment for the one alleged offence.

Kingham said the result was a defeat for Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott's anti-worker agenda.

"His agenda is to drag people through the courts, to spend taxpayers' money to tie up unions in costly legal actions. He fell at the first hurdle," Kingham said.

The Melbourne rulings follow recent court decisions in Perth and Sydney that also undermined Abbott's controversial Royal Commission.

In Sydney, an IRC court session found a key commission witness had ripped off business partners and failed to honour agreements with a husband-wife operation.

Commissioner Cole had accepted anti-union evidence preented by Troy Stratti in the face of strong denials.

But Justice Schmidt, in the IRC case, found distrust of Stratti had been unsurprising.

"The evidence showed that Mr and Mrs Metharis' concern about, and distrust of, the respondents, flowed from their failure to pay the applicant what was owed to it for work performed, either on time or at all," she said.

After Perth hearings, Cole based a number of "unlawful" findings against the CFMEU's Western Australia branch on Right of Entry technicalities.

That issue was at the heart of a subsequent court case brought against branch assistant secretary Joe McDonald and organiser Graham Pallott. It finished with Magistrate Paul Heaney dismissing charges of trespass, escaping and resisting.

Heaney was scathing of the decision to press the charges, ruling the unionists had been wrongly arrested by police who had no training in industrial law.


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