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Issue No. 198 03 October 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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!

N E W S

 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

C O L U M N S

Postcard
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.

Media
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.

Culture
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.

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

Postcard
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.

L E T T E R S
 A Hard Act To Follow
 Which Boss?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

ICAC Call at Mudgee Abattoir


Pressure is growing for the NSW Government to cough up millions owed to Mudgee Abattoir workers amidst calls for an ICAC investigation of management at the failed facility.

Mudgee Shire councillors have joined the United Services Union (USU) in calling for an investigation into the disappearance of worker’s entitlements at the local government controlled slaughterhouse.

Cudgegong County Council, whose board was made up from representatives of a number of local councils including Mudgee, Rylston and Gunnedah, managed the Mudgee Abattoir.

At least one board member, Chris Connor, accepts his council has a moral obligation to pay the worker's entitlements. Connor, an ALP representative on Mudgee Shire Council, would support a proposition that would see the bill for worker's entitlements met on a dollar for dollar basis with the NSW government.

Graham Kelly of the USU, who has described the plight of former abattoir employees as the most distressing thing he has seen in 13 years as a union organiser, will be speaking to a motion from the USU at the ALP State Conference over the October long weekend.

The motion seeks to protect the entitlements of employees of independent statutory corporations like the Cudgegong County Council and calls on the State Government to meet the outstanding balance between the GEERS payments and the total amount owed to the Mudgee Abattoir workers. It also calls for the premier to refer the financial and managerial affairs of the Cudgegong County Council prior to its collapse to ICAC.

"We have briefed a lawyer to ascertain if criminal charges can be laid against any group of people of individuals for utilising employee entitlements,' says Kelly

Cr Connor admits that management asked the board if they could dip into employee entitlements "if we need to".

"It was a situation I was extremely unhappy with,' says Connor. "I registered my concern."

Connor, who says that the incident has deeply upset him, believes that the Minister for Local Government, Tony Kelly carries responsibility for the Cudgegong County Council.

Mudgee Councillor Jeff Moore, who blamed a "National Party Clique' within the council for the abattoir's woes, believes that Mudgee council is morally responsible for the money owed to the Abattoir employees.

"Blind Freddy could see there was a problem," says Moore, who has been maintaining that there is a problem for some years at the abattoir. "It's a study in incompetence at least, if not worse."

"We mainly want to get these people's entitlements rather than see someone locked up, but it'd be nice to have both."

In 2001 an international company blamed the intransigence of deputy PM and local National Party member John Anderson for the failure of a plan that would have seen the abattoir given investment under a new owner.

Currently the USU is seeking to have the workers moved up to number one position on the list of secured creditors.


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