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Issue No. 204 21 November 2003  

Holes in the Net
The Medicare debate may be clouded by the minutae of the health delivery system, but it really boils down to an old-fashioned ideological battle between user-pays and state responsibility.


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.


 US Giant Attacks Aussies

 Exposed – OEA in Kids Scandal

 Left-Right Flattens Abigroup

 ANZ Cops Fine Over Robbers

 Classroom Stoush Gets Personal

 Seven Workers Pass "Intelligence" Test

 Stop Press: Coal Strike

 Nurses: MedicarePlus Points to America

 ‘Joel’s Law’ Gathers Momentum

 Skilled Picketers Confront Patrick’s

 Yahoo Censors Union Ad

 Labor’s Cotter Court ‘Faking’ It

 TAFE Puts Best Foot Forward

 Wharfies, Actors, Seafarers Unite

 Debus Gives Up On Lawyers Picnic

 Nelson Backdown Not Enough

 Online Pay Check



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.

 Jack Lives Here
 Saving Jobs
 Public Transport A Bit Rich
 The Smirker
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US Giant Attacks Aussies

Armed security guards are threatening violence against locked out Hunter Valley workers fighting attempts to force them onto AWAs.

The maintenance workers’ employer, P&H MinePro, is part of the US Multinational, Harnischfeger group - the company behind the long running Joy Dispute in the Southern Highlands in 2000.

"We know we're in for a long hard fight,' says P&H MinePro worker Mark Makin, who, along with his workmates, remains determined to win the dispute.

For the last seven months the workers at the company's Mount Thorley and Hexham sites have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement.

P&H MinePro had offered to abide by the result of a secret ballot, but when the workers rejected individual contracts by a vote of 52 to 10 the company refused to negotiate, instead repackaging the AWAs as a collective agreement and offering it as a take-it-or-leave it deal.

"They wanted an AWA clause,' says Makin. "They also wanted to link Key Performance Indicators to increases, which is a bit hard when we have no control over that."

The company has been trying to intimidate workers, interviewing them individually and asking them if they would take legal industrial action.

"We told them that is our right," says Makin.

Since being locked out only six of the 62 strong workforce have crossed the picket line.

"Six guys are scab labouring,' says Makin. "They're hurting the cause but they are a minority. We're the majority."

Employees involved in a peaceful protest outside the company's site at Hexham have been threatened with violence by security guards employed by the company.

"This is a pattern of behaviour by Harnischfeger in attacking ordinary Australians," says Tim Ayres from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU). Most of the employees at the company are members of the AMWU, with a small number being members of the CFMEU.

"This is not a dispute about an agreement," says AMWU State Secretary Paul Bastian. "This is nothing less than an attempt by the company to crush the unions and impose AWAs on its workforce."

"P&H MinePro workers will not accept the Americanisation of our industrial relations system. The company lost at Joy and it will not win at Mount Thorley."

Workers from P&H MinePro will be visiting workplaces in Sydney this week. The AMWU has called for support from other workers for the efforts of the P&H MinePro employees at Hexham and Mount Thorley by inviting them to speak at workplaces, pass resolutions in support of the workers or visiting either of the company's two sites.


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