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Issue No. 198 03 October 2003  

The Monk Off Our Back
It should come as no surprise that Tony Abbott has been dragged from his workplace relations portfolio just as his $60 million assault on the CFMEU finally unravels.


Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Rugby League Professionals Association president Tony Butterfield on his battle to deliver a collective agreement for NRL players.

Unions: National Focus
In this month’s national wrap: Noel Hester meets a heavy hitter talking up open source unionism, truckies front the suits at Boral’s AGM, tales of corporate bastardry and Medicare birthday revelry.

Industrial: Fools Gold
Unions have thrashed out a string of protocols with the NSW Labor Government. Some, now, are questioning whether they are worth the cheap, imported paper they are written on, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.

History: The Gong Show
In late September the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) celebrated 75 unbroken years championing the rights of workers in the coastal Illawarra region 80 kilometres south of Sydney, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics: The Hawke Legacy
The election of the Hawke Labor government twenty years ago holds some salient lessons for today’s Labor Party, writes Troy Bramston.

International: Sick Nation
As Australia celebrates 20 years of Medicare’s universal health coverage the crisis facing American workers in need of medical care is a useful reminder of what we’ve got – and what we stand, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Closed Minds
Philip Mendes looks at the political influence of right-wing think tanks, their financial backing and asks why the left hasn’t been able to get its ideas out there.

Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

Poetry: One Size Fits All
There once was a man from the Lodge - Who tried hard, our poems, to dodge... Resident bard David Peetz is back!


 Concrete Boot for Democracy

 Picketers Get Blue Ribbon Result

 ICAC Call at Mudgee Abattoir

 Telstra on Charges

 Unis Walk Over Federal Bullying

 IRC Shoots Rooster that Quacked

 Ugly Australian Riles Timorese

 Medicare Gets Abbott For Birthday

 Business Council Opposes Salary Vote

 Rail Workers Call For Self Defence

 ACT Leads On Industrial Manslaughter

 Thumbs-Up for Awards Binding Subbies

 Entitlements Crash into Hangar

 Blackouts on NSW Horizon

 State Govt Told To Clean Up Contracts

 Would-be Presidents Face Union Probe

 Activists Notebook


North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Soapbox
The $140 Million Patriot
It would be hard to imagine a steeper slide from hero to zero than the experience of Richard Grasso, the now-deposed head of the New York Stock Exchange. writes Jim Stanford.

Bush's Bad News Blues
The Bush Administration is cooking up a new campaign 'to shine light on progress made in Iraq', writes Bill Berkowitz.

The Locker Room
A Tale Of One City
Phil Doyle gazes into the crystal ball for signs of life, and finds that somewhere the horses are running in the wrong direction.

With Banners Furled
There is no better account of the glory that was the annual Labour Day marches than that given by Kylie Tennant in Foveaux, her fictional account of life in inner Sydney in 1912, the year she was born.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite Macquarie Street MP, Ian West MLC, reports on the world of NSW politics.

The Cancun Wash-Up
The dramatic collapse of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month has been followed by a deafening quiet from Geneva, Brussels and Washington, writes Peter Murphy.

 A Hard Act To Follow
 Which Boss?
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Picketers Get Blue Ribbon Result

Seventeen Tasmanians burned their way through four 200-litre drums and 50 tonnes of firewood during a 182-day picket that has blown a hole in bodgey contracting practices that deny thousands of Australians basic entitlements.

Meatworkers Union Tasmanian secretary, Grant Courtney, said picketers were "over the moon" with this week’s Industrial Commission ruling that they be re-employed by Blue Ribbon Products and its labour-hire firm, Newemploy, and be back-paid for six months.

"This scam has been going on in Australia since 1990. It has probably denied 20,000 people, mainly in the rural sector, their entitlements," Courtney said.

"The commission has looked at this scam and ruled that, legally, it is a scam. It puts employers on notice that when these contracting agencies come to them with schemes to deny workers their entitlements they are on dangerous ground.

"These people stuck it out through the wettest winter in Tasmania for the last 10 years, in one of the coldest parts of the state. They are very brave but they wouldn't have survived without the generous support of the Launceston community and unions, nationally, that understood the issues."

Tasmanian Industrial Relations Commissioner, Pauline Shelley, ruled arrangements between Blue Ribbon and Newemploy had been a "contrivance to a avoid award obligations and industrial consequences".

Commissioner Shelley ordered that picketers, some of whom had worked at Blue Ribbon for more than 30 years, be reinstated by October 22.

One worker, Brian Wood, told local media he would believe the six month back pay order when he saw the money.

"It means I can start paying my mortgage again," he said.

Employers, especially in the rural sector, have been transferring wage workers to independent contractor status since the BWIU lost its Odco decision in 1990.

Tens of thousands of Australians are denied entitlements such as overtime, public holidays, annual leave, and sick leave by arrangements similar to that entered into by Blue Ribbon.

"For our state this decision is a breakthrough," Courtney said, "but it follows at least three similar rulings in South Australia.

"This type of bodgey contracting is on the back foot and it's not before time."


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