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Issue No. 200 24 October 2003  

The Hard Yards
Two hundred issues of Australia’s first and only online workers’ magazine is due reason to celebrate. It is also a good time to look at what we’ve achieved over the past five years and consider where we need to go.


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!


 Workers Rally For ‘Joel’s Law’

 It’s Official: Courts Weak on Safety

 Cole Insider Highlights "Agenda"

 "Racism" as Pacific Islanders Rorted

 Academics Appeal to International Umpire

 Conroy Crashes Boral Bash

 Poll Points to Hospital Overload

 Aussie Icon Set To Head Overseas

 China Gaols Union Activists

 Victory in Dili

 AWU Rejects Bid to Fleece Shearers

 People’s Bank to Hear From People

 Unions Put Students in Picture

 Memo ALP Members: Think About Unions

 New Face in the Hunter

 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.

 Child Labour
 Advance Australia Where?
 God Save Us All
 US Seeking Aussie Info
 Call The Doctor
 Bring Back Gough
 Bring Back Social Democracy
 Look East, Look West
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Workers Rally For ‘Joel’s Law’

The mother of a 16-year-old killed on an Eastern Creek building site will join thousands of workers at a Sydney rally on Monday as pressure builds on the NSW Government for industrial manslaughter legislation.

Thousands are expected to rally across the state on Monday, October 27. The Sydney protest will be addressed by Sue Exner, mother of Joel Exner, who was tragically killed on October 15.

His death has galvanised organisations calling for changes to the law to protect worker's lives and hold to account those employers who place profits before safety.

"Joel was killed as a result of his boss cutting corners to maximise profits," says Andrew Ferguson, state secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). "This is not an accident - it is most clearly manslaughter; a young worker unnecessarily killed."

Building workers across the state are set to walk off the job on Monday to join rallies calling for greater penalties against those responsible for workplace deaths. Families of workers killed on the job will be leading the Sydney rally.

On average one worker a week is killed in the workplace in NSW.

The CFMEU has condemned the Federal Government for spending $60 million on a royal commission into the building industry and failing to look at safety standards - standards that if ignored can lead to death.

Joel died as a result of a 12-metre fall that could have been avoided had the employer, Garry Denson Metal Roofing Pty Ltd, taken adequate safety measures. Joel's employer was subcontracting at the site to principal contractor Australand, who had repeatedly been asked by the site's safety committee to address safety concerns at their site.

The concerns were so strong that the safety committee had put its concerns in writing.

The death of Joel has lead to calls from the CEPU Plumbing Division for an extensive safety induction-training course for any worker under 18 commencing work in the building industry. Joel Exner had been at work just three days prior to his death and received no safety induction.

Hundreds of mourners attended last Thursday's funeral for Joel Exner, while members of the Rail Tram and Bus Union stopped work for a minute in memory of the popular Blacktown teenager.

"This will impact not only on the family, but on the whole community," said Andrew Ferguson after attending the funeral. "Joel had a right to live."

The NSW Labor Council has endorsed the rallies set down for Monday October 27 that will call for industrial manslaughter legislation to be introduced in NSW.

"We need stronger laws to send out a powerful message to employers that if you do breach your obligations, and that does result in death, then the full force of the law will be trained on you," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "Once the boss knows they might be thrown in the slammer it is more likely there going to be focussed on ensuring that incidents like this don't occur."

"These sorts of laws are not about throwing employers in gaol, they are about changing behaviour patterns of shonky, negligent employers. My preference is that no one goes to gaol because the fact that the law's introduced is sufficient to change the behaviour of employers."

The call for changes to the law has received support from legislators.

"If you can be sent to gaol for fraud then how can you not be subject to gaol for killing someone in the workplace?" Asks NSW ALP upper house MP Ian West. "The labour market cannot be compared to the meat market. These are real people. We are not going to the abattoirs to get a leg of lamb here."

Building unions are intent on ensuring justice for Joel and his friends and family.

Justice For Joel - Safety Rallies

In Sydney workers will be rallying at Town Hall Square from 11am on Monday, October 27. There will also be rallies held at the same time on the Central Coast at Gosford on the corner of Baker Street and Georgiana Terrace; in the Wollongong, at the amphitheatre in the City Mall; and in the ground floor meeting room at the Newcastle Trades Hall.

The families of workers killed in the workplace will be meeting prior to the rallies at 10am on Monday October 27 at the CFMEU Office, 15 Wentworth Avenue in the city. These families will be leading the Sydney rally.


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