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Issue No. 186 11 July 2003  

Beyond the Possible
For a union movement that is struggling to break through the constraints of time and place, the visit of US union leader Amy Dean this week has been a breath of fresh air.


Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
One the movementís great characters, Public Service Association general secretary Maurie OíSullivan, is calling it a day. He looks back on his career with Workers Online.

Industrial: Just Doing It
Sportswear giant, Nike, is the first company to sign off on an agreement that purports to protect Australian clothing workers, wherever they labour, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
For a 23-year-old woman who has never worked in the trade, recruiting young construction apprentices into the union has its challenges, reports Carly Knowles.

Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Mal Cochrane came to the smoke as part of an Aboriginal avalanche that redefined the face of Rugby League. Today, he serves his community through the trade union movement.

Bad Boss: In the Pooh
What do you give a boss who makes his workers labour in raw sewage? A nomination for the Tonys.

Unions: National Focus
In the national wrap Noel Hester finds a Victorian Misso delo who is redistributing lucre from Eddie McGuire into workersí theatre, South Australian unions taking that Letís Get Real stuff seriously, an American unionist fronts up at a distinguished Ďmeeting of the brainsí in Adelaide and a look at the line up for ACTU Congress.

Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Dick Bryan wonders if we can be insured against pop economists promising financial nirvana as well as financial market instability.

Technology: Dean for President
Paul Smith looks at how the internet is helping one Democrat candidate to the front of the primary pack

International: Rangoon Rumble
Union Aid Abroad's Marj O'Callaghan looks at Australia's weak response to developments in Burma.

Education: Blackboard Jungle
Lifelong learning shouldnít mean cutting jobs, but that's exactly what the Carr Government is proposing, argues Tony Brown

Review: From Weakness to Strength
Labor Council crime-fighter Chris Christodoulou catches up with his boyhood hero, the Incredible Hulk

Poetry: Downsized
Resident bard David Peetz pens the song the Industrial Relations Commission needed to hear


 Stop Thief: Shelf Company Owes Millions

 Axed Workers Take on Max

 Seven Bowls Bouncer at Umpire

 Smokescreen Clouds Morris McMahon Win

 Rail Boss Locked In

 Actors To Be Paid Their Dues

 Ruddock Urged to Block Immigration Scam

 Silicon Workers Seize Their Valley

 Wage Case Swings on Fare Go

 Fire, Pepper Spray all in a Dayís Work

 Taking It Up for Medicare

 Shelved Worker Fights Back

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Cleaning Up
Rabbi Laurie Coskey from San Diego adds her voice to the global campaign for just for cleaners in Westfield malls.

The Locker Room
The Name In The Game
In an age of the sportsperson as celebrity it seems that names are overtaking the games, writes Phil Doyle.

The Beach
Southern Thailandís terrorist activities: facts or fiction asks HT Lee

 Union Posters
 Tom's Lessons
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Ruddock Urged to Block Immigration Scam

Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock is being urged to change a system that penalises guest workers already ripped off by unscrupulous employers.

Reg Bartley, the lawyer who exposed immigration rorts at Manly eatery Ribs and Rumps, has written to Ruddock urging him to write meaningful sanctions into regulations that allow companies to import guest labour.

Bartley tells the Minister his three Ribs and Rumps clients were paid $150 each from the till, despite their employer having told Immigration, in writing, that they had skills unavailable in Australia and would each receive annual salaries of $49,700. When they sought wages they had been promised, Bartley says, they had to resign and were subsequently sent home because that situation put them in breach of visa conditions.

"It was a dreadful ending for three people who had worked hard in Australia for four years, been excellent citizens and done nothing wrong," Bartley says.

Bartley says that while Government has established minimum wages in regulation, neither it nor any department does anything to enforce it.

If lawyers or trade unions act to try and ensure immigrants on controversial 456 (short term) or 457 visas are paid correctly, they are invariably sacked or forced to resign. Bartley says the only sanction enforced by Government officials is revocation of the visa which effectively penalises the ripped-off worker, rather than the errant employer.

His concern relects that repeatedly raised by CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, who argues that Government is turning a deliberate blind eye to illegal workers as part of its campaign to undermine Australian wages and conditions.

The CFMEU has taken to muscling employers into back-paying arrears to guest workers around Sydney, rather than going through official channels because of the danger of double jeopardy.

While dozens of documented cases in the hospitality and construction industries have failed to move the Minister, Workers Online understands a couple of extraordinary cases, raising allegations of rorting by religious employers, are being prepared for the courts.

One involves a Hindu a priest and the other, a Jewish rabbi, both brought to Sydney under guest labour conditions.

Bartley suggests the increasing and systematic exploitation of guest labour evident under the current system, could be addressed relatively simply if Government had the will. The following administrative changes are reccommended in his letter to Ruddock ...

- that provision be made to enforce payment of the salary provided for by Ministerial Notice

- that action be taken to enforce salaries provide for by regulation

- that all workers on 456 or 457 visas be personally notified by the Department of their salary entitlements

- that DIMIA inspectors, checking the operation of guest labour visas, do more than just inspect the passports of employees

- that methods of compliance be revamped to actually check the remuneration of guest workers

- that sponsoring employers be required to lodge a "substantial" bond or deposit to ensure their compliance


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