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Issue No. 203 14 November 2003  

Beyond the Workplace
The NSW union movement’s intervention this week into the debate over the future of public transport is an important step in redefining what unions are all about.


Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. It’s all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.


 Hamberger Bad for Kids

 BHP Faces UN Sanction

 Hardie Shareholders Face Death

 Road Workers Swing Left-Right Blows

 Joy Battles Goode at ANZ

 Developers To Kick Transport Can

 ACTU Names Its Price

 Death By A Thousand Cuts

 Ban Holes Water Police Deal

 Cleaners Mop Up Contracts Mess

 Workers Entitlements Dumped

 Overtime Goes Bush

 Libs Push Lawyers Picnic

 Unions Set To Stand Up To Bullies

 Jack Thompson Headlines Launch

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the ‘creative partnership’ between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

 Burma Up In Smoke
 Super Solidarity
 Perils Of Pauline
 Put A PM On The Barbie
 Tom Holds Water
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BHP Faces UN Sanction

BHP’s enforced use of AWAs in the Pilbarra has left it in breach of commitments made to paint itself a good corporate citizen, the UN suggests.

BHP trumpeted its sign-off on the Global Compact and Global Reporting Initiative, devised by UN secretary general Kofi Annan, but received a letter from the world body, this week, indicating it had not met its obligations.

Inherent in the third principle of the Compact is recognition of collective bargaining but BHP forces new starters at its Pilbarra iron ore operation onto individual Australian Workplace Agreements.

The CFMEU Mining and Energy Division has raised the discrepancy with ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investment Commission), alleging the company is misleading ethical investors.

"They have misled the market," CFMEU secretary, Tony Maher, told ABC Radio. "At their last AGM (chairman) Don Argus said yes, it's a condition of employment for an individual contract and, yes, we thing that complies with the Global Compact.

"Well, the UN has spoken, and if they continue to parade themselves as complying with the UN Global Compact then they are misleading the market and that is a serious matter.

"It's as clear as crystal, BHP has been caught out.

"This company, sooner or later, is going to find out that when it sings something, it has to deliver on it."

The UN letter advises BHP that signatory companies are "expected" to make changes to business operations that give effect to the Compact's principles.

"The intent to bring about positive change is essential," the letter says. "We understand that changing business aoperations to implement the principles can take time and be challenging. Dialogue, learning and networking through the Global Compact can help companies address some of these challenges."

It then points out that Global Compact labour principles are taken from the ILO's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights of Work, inspired by eight core conventions, one being the right to collectively bargain.

Argus rejected the criticisms at today's BHP Billiton AGM in Melbourne, saying it was his company's right to make AWAs compulsory.

Argus said signing the Global Compact did not require his company to change it IR framework.


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