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Issue No. 192 22 August 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Flexing the Muscles
If there was an over-riding mood from this week’s ACTU Congress it was one of pent-up energy, as if the time was fast approaching where the sleeping giant that is the Australian workforce must wake from its slumber.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Kids Win From Building Stoush

 Airline Bombs Staff

 Socialists Give Banks a Kicking

 Workers Bag Leave Entitlements

 Bosses Keep the Merc

 Canberra Off The Rails

 Australia in Terrorists’ Sights

 Labor Pledges Taskforce Fight

 Unions Go Back To School

 Yumaro Shows The Way To Go

 Rheem Taps into Lock Out Pattern

 100 Stranded in Bass Strait

 Call Centre Workers Cash In

 If It Looks Like A Duck...

 Stellar Dials an Ernie

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

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.

Education
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.

Postcard
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.

L E T T E R S
 Misplaced Trust
 A Harsh Lesson
 Axe The Max
 India On A Dollar A Day
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Bosses Keep the Merc


The men who robbed Metro Shelf workers of millions of dollars spirited luxury cars, including a Mercedes Benz and landcruisers, away from their waterfront mansion in the hours before the company went belly-up, Federal Parliament has learned.

Barton MP, Robert McClelland, told the House of a complex web of asset protection schemes put in place by Sydney businessmen Paul, Craig and Jason Caughlan before they claimed their companies could not pay $9 million owed to 300 employees.

Included in that figure was $800,000 in superannuation which they had sat on for at least a year.

"In the months before the administration, Paul Caughlan and his sons, Craig and Jason, transferred their employees to subsidiaries that had no assets," McClelland said.

"In the weeks before the administration, Paul Caughlan and his sons presented a financial report which said the subsidiaries had promised not to call on the holding company should they themselves collapse.

"In the hours before Metro Group collapsed, Paul, Craig and Jason Caughlan spirited their luxury cars away from the family's million-dollar waterside mansion at Burraneer Bay."

With that scheme in place, he revealed, they sat down and negotiated an enterprise agreement with the AMWU, without mentioning imminent administration.

In an aggressive public campaign that union has been demanding significant changes to corporate governance so directors of failed companies who act improperly are made responsible for their losses, and prevented from operating other businesses unless they can prove they were not culpable.

Workers Online understands the majority of workers who lost employment at Metro Shelf were Vietnamese Australians.

The company had a history of industrial disputes, with the CFMEU, AWU and the AMWU.

"Australians are entitled to ask why, after nearly eight years of John Howard's government, so many hard-working battlers can go to work one morning to find that, without warning, they have lost everything - their income, accrued entitlements, superannuation even payroll deductions to health funds and the Child Support Agency," McClelland said.

"Why is it that these honest Australians worry about how to pay the mortgage, support the family and put the kids through school while those they trusted to run the company appear to have amassed a fortune and placed it beyond the reach of the law?"

The AMWU is investigating claims that another company associated with the Coughlans is importing low-cost supermarket equipment from China.


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