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Issue No. 199 10 October 2003  

Those of us preparing to protest US President George W Bush’s visit to Australia must tread a fine line – between condemning the policies of an illegitimate president with a dangerous agenda and damning an entire nation.


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!


 Rail Whistleblower Attacked - Again

 Royal Con on Tape

 Call Centre Stumps Umpire

 Breakthrough for Email Privacy

 Harbour Sell Off Sparks Occupation

 Harvey World Travel Locks Up Tour

 STOP PRESS: Telstra Drops Out

 Workers Voice Gets Hard Edge

 Employees Disable Hard-Ball Bosses

 Canberra Eyes Crash Windfall

 Bush Whacker - Dubya Fingered

 Assault Costs Education Department

 Uni Workers Stand Up To Feds

 Thousands Say No to Cole

 The Town that Struck

 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.

 On The Waterfront
 An Honest Job
 Letter From America
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Royal Con on Tape

Accusations of Cole Commission bias have been strengthened by a taped interview, secretly recorded by South Australian contractors.

In one convoluted sentence the head investigator gives the lie to claims the $60 million inquiry was an open, even-handed investigation of all sectors of the construction industry.

"I'll tell you what we're about," he tells contractors on a building site out of Adelaide. "The Royal Commission is investigating lots of activities in the building industry where coercion is used to make people join unions, or where subbies have to pay slings, and all that sort of stuff."

That's it. There is no mention, much less question, of key employer rorts - safety, underpayments or tax evasion - in a sector which claims 50 Australian lives a year, has coughed up more than $10 million in back pay claims, and is said by the ATO to "hide" billions of dollars.

The tape reveals strong anti-union prejudice amongst those the Federal Government paid to gather and present evidence.

The head investigator, whose identity is being kept secret for legal reasons, characterises union concern for ripped off workers as self-serving.

"The reason that unions don't like all-in rates is that subbies don't want to join unions, you know, and it affects their membership base, that's all. Quite honestly, they don't give a rat's arse, in 40 years, whether you have any super in the bank," he says.

He also dishes out advice to the trio, all CFMEU members, on how they can quit the union.

"When you resign, you have to do it by registered post so you can prove you resigned because they will dud you every time," the investigator warns.

"In the eastern states, they chase the shit out of people for fees, you know, back fees, but you can often deal with it. Say you owe three or four years you can often do a deal with them and pay six months more in advance and they will write off the debt.

"Then you resign properly.

"It's a bit red hot, isn't it? It's in their rules."

The tape also lends weight to claims the whole Cole Commission process was crook.

Commentators and union spokespeople have repeatedly claimed key witnesses were either never interviewed or not called by the Commission because their evidence would not have been prejudicial to the CFMEU.

The three Adelaide contractors were interviewed on tape about allegations the CFMEU had coerced Sydney-based ceiling fixers into joining the union in South Australia on a job on which the contractors had been employed.

Investigators repeatedly tried to get endorsement of their claims, without success.

"The CFMEU said you weren't allowed to bring people from other parts of the world, you know, as if it was another country?" one investigator says.

"The union guys demanded that the Sydney guys had to finish first, before anyone else could finish.

"Were you aware of any of this stuff?"

"Not really," one contractor responds, " I did know that when the Sydney guys came down the unions tried to get them a living away allowance.

"All the other stuff about they had to leave first," another says, "I think a lot of guys probably finished before they did."

"Did they?" an investigator interjects.

"We left before they did as well," the contractor confirms.

During the Royal Commission three ceiling fixers gave evidence they hadn't been allowed onto the site until they joined the South Australian branch of the CFMEU.

In his final report, Commissioner Terence Cole found the CFMEU had coerced the building company, Chadwicks, into forcing interstate ceiling fixers to join its South Australian branch.

"No reason was advanced not to accept it (the ceiling fixer's evidence)," Cole said.

None of the men spoken to on the tape was asked to give evidence to the Royal Commission.


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