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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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Trolley Rort Gathers Pace

Directors of a supermarket supplier that went bust, owing workers $9 million in super and entitlements, are understood to be importing trolleys from China under a different guise.

The Metro Group of Companies went into administration earlier this month, tipping 300 production workers and trades people out of jobs, after a Patrick-style corporate reshuffle that leaves workers and debtors trying to recover money from a range of shelf companies, devoid of assets.

Angry AMWU and AWU members demanded action from corporate watchdog ASIC at a Sydney protest rally today.

"We're asking them to investigate the collapse, the structure and restructure of the companies and the conduct of directors," AMWU secretary Paul Bastian said.

"If there are any breaches they should use their powers to prosecute.

"Unfortunately, unless your name is Rivkin or Elliott, no one seems to go after you.

"There appear to be two types of robbery in this country. If someone takes $10 off you in the street you can expect your day in court but if they steal thousands off you at work, bad luck."

Bastian said ASIC wasn't adequately funded to bring corporate shysters to justice.

His union, required to pick up the pieces after workers had been dudded by a string of collapses, is demanding significant changes to corporate law as a disincentive to directors who shut down operations that employ people but continue to operate other commercial entities.

The AMWU is pressing for:

- reverse onus of proof on directors whose companies go into administration or receivership, arguing they should be required to prove their bona fides before being allowed to operate other concerns.

- superannuation to be paid quarterly, as a legal minimum

- related company liability

- entitlements to be paid into individual accounts administered by industry trust funds

Bastian says the last of those demands is the most urgent in practical terms.

"We've got to get our money out of the bosses' hands as a priority," he said.

Protection of entitlements is a key claim being put forward by unions involved in Campaign 2003. Steadfast employer resistance has been a key reason for an outbreak of industrial action around NSW and Victoria.

Initial investigations suggest at least some Metro Group workers were transferred to companies without assets in the weeks preceding the collapse.

It appears, several associated companies remain in tact.

AMWU officials were unwilling to confirm or deny growing speculation about Metro Group shennanigans. Bastian said he would wait until being briefed by the administrator before addressing those issues.


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