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Issue No. 230 23 July 2004  

Kill the Lawyers
What’s left of the HR Nichols Society must be popping the champagne this week, with a NSW court ruling that sees the triumph of their 20-year battle to kill industrial relations and replace it with a ‘rule of law’.


Interview: Power and the Passion
ALP's star recruit Peter Garrett shares his views on unions, forests and being the Member for Wedding Cake Island

Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Tony Butterfield became a State of Origin gladiator at the unlikely age of 33. Even that, Jim Marr reports, couldn’t prepare him for the knock-down, drag-em-out world of modern IR.

Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Proposals to flog off NSW’s forests have raised eyebrows and temperatures amongst some of the key players reports Phil Doyle.

Housing: Home Truths
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton argues for a radical solution to the housing affordability crisis.

International: Boycott Busters
International unions have issued a new list of corporations breaching ILO sanctions to do business in Burma.

Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
The absurdities of neoclassical economic assumptions has never stood in the way of their being trotted out to justify profiteering and attacks on the rights of citizens. The AUSFTA is the latest rort we are supposed to swallow, writes Neale Towart.

History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Interest in JC Watson's short time as Labor's first Prime Minister should not detract from his more substantial role as Party leader, writes Mark Hearn

Review: Chewing the Fat
As debate rages in Australia about Fast Food advertising, Julianne Taverner takes a look at a side of the industry that Ronald McDonald won’t tell you about in Supersize Me.

Poetry: Dear John
Workers Online reader Rob Mullen shares some personal correspondence with our glorious leader.


 Vandals Hit Sweat Shoppers

 Blow For Union Busters

 Poll Rocks Election Boat

 It’s Official: Eggs Come Second

 Tetra Packs Private Dick

 Workers Demand Act of Contrition

 Wollongong’s $4000 Hamberger

 Company Pays for Casual Affair

 Shame Ships Hide Sausage

 First Test for Death Law

 Convenience Store Detains Student

 Bashed Youth Workers Walk

 Un-Fairfax Leads Paper Chase

 Nile On The Death Law

 ACCC Lays Down Council Code

 Activists What’s On!


The Westie Wing
As the NSW Labor Government sells its first budget deficit in nine years, the real concern for the union movement is the devil in the detail, especially when it comes to procurement agreements, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Rubber Bullets
Labor's IR spokesman Craig Emerson launches a few characteristic salvos across the Parliamentary chamber

The Locker Room
Tears After Bedtime
Phil Doyle says that it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Postcard from Vietnam
APHEDA's Hoang Thi Le Hang reports from the north of Vietnam on a project being fund by Australian unionists.,

 End Poverty
 The Agony Of The Refugee
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Wollongong’s $4000 Hamberger

A company fined $4000 for its 15th occupational health and safety conviction was advised to ignore a prohibition notice by the Office of the Employment Advocate.

Francois Philippe Sebastian, managing director of Wollongong-based Sebastian Builders and Developers, swore an affidavit to the court that an officer of the OEA, forerunner of the Building Industry Taskforce, had advised him a CFMEU safety notice "doesn't mean anything"

Sebastian said, as the result of involvement with OEA legal action against the CFMEU, subsequently withdrawn, he had not been "very co-operative" when the union tried to draw electrical faults to his company's attention.

The OEA had unsuccessfully moved to have CFMEU officials barred from a Sebastian site in Wollongong in 2001.

The matter was further canvassed at the Building Industry Royal Commission which heard that CFMEU organiser, Dave Kelly, had been assaulted by a sub-contractor on the site.

In an agreed statement of facts, last week, Sebastian conceded his company had "failed to ensure the health and safety of its employees at work", during November and December, 2001. Each of four specified instances related to dangerous wiring or electrical cables.

In the statement, it was agreed the defendant had three prior health and safety convictions in the name of Sebastian Builders and Development, and 11 as F&F Sebastian Builders, dating back to 1996.

CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said the public could "draw its own conclusions" about why taxpayers money had been used to support an employer in those circumstances.

The Wollongong revelations revive memories of the OEA's lead role in the federal government's war against the CFMEU, since assumed by the Building Industry Taskforce.

Activist bureaucrat Jonathan Hamberger was in charge when an OEA case against the CFMEU was described by a Federal Court judge as "manufactured".

Justice Marshall found the Advocate's case had rested on secret tape recordings and lies. He awarded costs against the Advocate's witnesses of $96,000 which the federal government decided the taxpayer should foot.

Later, Hamberger admitted to a Senate Estimates hearing, that while his office had used the discredited witnesses against the CFMEU it hadn't passed information to the ATO that at least one of them was a tax evader.

It was an 11-page report, penned by Hamberger, that then Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, used to establish his controversial Cole Royal Commission into the Building Industry.

The Commission chewed up another $65 million of taxpayer funds before issuing a report that led to the establishment of the Building Industry Task Force.

The Task Force is running a number of legal actions aimed at blocking union representatives from workplaces.

When it was established, at the cost of another $13 million, it employed several officers who had served under Hamberger at the OEA. The Howard Government, meanwhile, appointed Hamberger to the bench of the Industrial Relations Commission.


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