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Issue No. 205 28 November 2003  

Australia Deserves Better
You only have to scan through recent issues of Workers Online to see why the leadership of the ALP is so important – not to the political insiders who judge the beauty contest that is federal politics, but to the millions of workers who are affected by its output.


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.


 Labour Hire Boosts Tech Wreck

 Call Centre Throws Safety Out the Door

 Miners Tackle Million Dollar Sidestep

 Bouquets for Bosses

 Mandarins Nail Carpenters

 BHP Burrow-ed By UN

 ACT Rejects Manslaughter Bullying

 No Joy for Fat Exec Packages

 WorkCover Walks Away From Racetrack

 Contractors Scramble Foxtel Signal

 Safety Derails Train Talks

 Sydney Uni Strikes At Feds

 Workers Up For Safety Awards

 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.

 Mad Monk’s Medicare Minus
 A Tale Of Three Cities
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ACT Rejects Manslaughter Bullying

Friends and family of killed teenager Joel Exner were on hand to applaud The ACT becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to enact industrial manslaughter legislation.

The Federal Government attempted to bully the ACT into abandoning the new laws, but community support saw legislation passed with support from minor parties and independents.

"For a Federal Government that has paid so much attention to the building industry it's astounding that when an opportunity comes along to do something about workers safety, they drop the bundle," says Andrew Ferguson, NSW Secretary of the CFMEU. "This result in the ACT is an important victory in our national campaign for tougher safety laws and more vigilant compliance.

"We will be continuing our campaign in NSW with fresh resolve."

ACT Industrial Relations Minister Katy Gallagher says the legislation sends strong signals to workers and employers.

"When a worker dies at work, and it's someone else's fault, it's a crime," says Gallagher. "We're supporting workers by placing a value on their safety."

Gallagher said critics who say the legislation does nothing for OHS are wrong, as her office had been inundated with industry attempting to get its workplaces up to scratch.

"We've had OH&S Legislation for 14 years but it's only with the passage of this Bill that some areas of industry are now getting up to standard," says Gallagher.

Gallagher noted that industries with good OH&S systems had nothing to fear from the new laws.

Exner's Mates Confront PM

Family and friends of Joel Exner, the 16-year-old killed on a Sydney building site last month, lobbied members of the ACT Assembly, helping ensure passage of the bill.

"It's something I'll never forget,' Gallagher said. She said the involvement of Joel's mother, Sue, had put a human face to the issue. "I'm sure it was painful for Joel's family to hear people say this legislation was draconian and unnecessary. It was just insulting.

"I'm sure it helped the Liberals to behave themselves."

"After the bill was passed one 16 year old boy from Doonside came up and didn't say anything, he just shook my hand."

"It was really powerful."

Exner's family and friends confronted the Prime Minister at Parliament House. Howard attempted to deflect the issue, saying it was the State's problem, but the friends persisted, asking what the Prime Minister was doing personally to address the issue.

The Prime Minister failed to respond, with one observer saying he "ran away".


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