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Issue No. 188 25 July 2003  

Solidarity Gets Sexy
Here’s an image of modern trade unionism: articulate soap stars gives evidence to Senate inquiry into free trade; young IT workers pressure the government to get Big Brother out of the workplace and strapping young footballers join the union to take on the might of Murdoch’s NRL.


Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
One the movement’s great characters, Public Service Association general secretary Maurie O’Sullivan, 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 workers’ theatre, South Australian unions taking that Let’s Get Real stuff seriously, an American unionist fronts up at a distinguished ‘meeting of the brains’ 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 shouldn’t 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


 Gloves Off Over Workers’ Rights

 Win for Victims of Rio Tinto "Blood Sport"

 League Players Join Union Team

 The Stack Goes On

 Trolley Rort Gathers Pace

 Allende Comes to Fairfield

 Vale Ernie Razborsek

 Kodak Chops Workers from Picture

 Stool Lady’s Stand Vindicated

 Nurses Seek Work-Based Elder Care

 Aussie Stars Buck Trade Off

 High Tech Pokies Threaten Jobs

 Activist 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 Thailand’s terrorist activities: facts or fiction asks HT Lee

 The New Globalism
 Does This Make Me a Raving Trot?
 More on Bullies
 And More …
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Win for Victims of Rio Tinto "Blood Sport"

Australia’s longest-running industrial dispute has ended in success for 16 Queensland miners who stood firm against multi-national giant, Rio Tinto, for five years and four days.

The full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission today ordered Rio Tinto to give "preference of employment" to the former Blair Athol men at its neighbouring Hail Creek operation.

The CFMEU members - "blacklisted" and the victims of management "blood sport", according to earlier findings - battled on as Rio Tinto appealed one decision after another in an apparent bid to lift the financial bar beyond their union's means.

The 16 union activists were sacked on July 21, 1998.

Nearly three years later IRC Commissioner Hodder ruled those dismissals unfair. He said the workers had been subjected to "unfair and unjust" treatment because of their union membership.

Commissioner Hodder ordered their reinstatement with full back pay. Rio Tinto appealed but Hodder's decision was upheld by the full bench on December, 12, 2002.

However, because the Workplace Relations Act restricted unfair dismissal compensation to a maximum of six months pay, the full bench could not impose additional compensation, and refused to endorse reinstatement.

If did, however, confirm the sackings had been "harsh, unjust and unreasonable".

On February 7, 2003, the CFMEU lodged an exceptional matters application arguing the 16 should be re-employed at Hail Creek.

CFMEU Mining president, Tony Maher, said his organisation was "relieved rather than triumphant" about the latest ruling.

"These families deserve the chance to get on with their lives," Maher said. "They have been through an enormous ordeal and, despite the suffering and hardship, they want to put the bitterness of the past behind them."

The win comes on top of the record $25 million settlement to unfair dismissal claims arising from Rio Tinto's sacking of unionists at the Hunter Valley No 1 and Mt Thorley mines last year.

Maher called on Rio Tinto to change tack and "break with the predatory anti-unionism" evident in those cases.

"The Commission has thrown down the challenge to Rio Tinto to heal the wounds of the last five years," he said. "The time has come when even the most powerful multi-national must search its corporate soul over the enormous power it wields over the lives or ordinary people."


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