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Issue No. 191 15 August 2003  

Three Year Itch
The triennial ACTU Congress meeting Melbourne this week comes at the most difficult of times for the union movement, as the horror prospect of seven years of conservative government becomes an ongoing reality.


Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month’s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Public Backs Services Over Tax Cuts

 Seafarer Awards – Full Steam Ahead

 Sunnybrand Plucks Workers

 Call Centre Stink Over Time in Loo

 Reynolds Banks on Safety

 Workers To Back League Stars

 Witnesses Line Up for Test Case

 Unfair Legislation Dismissal

 Tax Office "Bites" Its Own

 Bosses Grab Massive Pay Hikes

 IR Staff Walk Over Job Cuts

 Government Kills Manslaughter Bill

 Rail Workers Spitting Mad

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.

 Tom’s Tool
 Neighbourhood Watch
 MUA CD Launch
 The Remittance Man
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Sunnybrand Plucks Workers

Byron Bay chicken boners are fighting a push to contract out their jobs in order to evade Workers Compensation levies.

Thirty five boners at Sunnybrand Chickens struck for two days last week, then weren’t offered work under status quo conditions, when they turned up to comply with an IRC ruling.

Meatworkers Union spokesman, Justin Davis, said the closure of Workers Compensation Act loopholes, effective from July 1, lay behind Sunnybrand's move to force employees to become self-employed contractors.

Sunnybrand was one of a number of NSW companies, involved in dangerous industries, who had evaded the Act's intention by splitting workers into different employing entities so the majority didn't attract Workers Compensation levies at higher, industry rates.

The NSW Government closed the loophole last month, provoking Sunnybrand to seek the services of the Australian Independent Contractors Agency, a consultancy that claims to transform workers into contractors.

"Sunnybrand is facing the fact that it must now pay correct Workers Compensation rates and it doesn't like it," Davis said. "They're not trying to hide it, that's what they've told us."

The company's solution would mean boners losing entitlements, like holiday pay and sick leave, as well as being forced to take out their own accident and injury policies.

"The whole thing is just a sham to defeat Sunnybrand's responsibilities," Davis said. "These people wouldn't be independent contractors at all.

"They couldn't turn up with chickens to bone for Inghams.

"They would still be required to turn up at a certain time, to work on company product, under company supervision, to company specifications."

Davis described Sunnybrand's general IR attitude as "aggressively anti-union".

IRC Commissioner Ritchie issued a direction that the boners return to work last Thursday and that the status quo prevail pending a full hearing of the case.

Workers say that when they reported to the site the company insisted on employing some of their number as contractors, defeating the intent of the Commissioner's ruling.


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