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Issue No. 231 30 July 2004  

Bright Sparks
Australia is facing a major crisis that could affect all of us in the decades to come, a shortage of skilled apprentices, tomorrow’s tradespeople who are the backbone of the economy.


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.


 Goons, Scabs in Desert Showdown

 High Jump for Hardies

 Task Force in Hiding

 Court Cans Radio Bully

 Trade Deal Muddies Water

 Union Saves Kevin’s Bacon

 CFMEU Bowls Howard Model

 Mildura Bans Toxic Avenger

 Breakthrough Saves 87 Positions

 Two Million Jobs Traded

 Death Halts Sydney Tunnel

 Trainees Score $200,000

 Apprentice Crisis Worsens

 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.,

 Left Holding The Baby
 Tom On Alienation
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High Jump for Hardies

Sweeping law changes, including the appointment of a special James Hardie prosecutor, are being urged in the wake of recommendations that a commission of inquiry find the company lied to courts, the government, the stock exchange and asbestos sufferers.

The recommendations on findings were tabled this week by Jackson Inquiry counsel assisting, John Sheahan, SC.

He says the evidence supports adverse findings against company lawyer, Peter Shafron, managing director, Peter Macdonald, chairman, Alan McGregor, and chief financial officer, Phillip Morley.

Sheahan submits the commission could find Macdonald may be liable to prosecution for misleading the stock exchange.

The sensational submissions came as it was revealed the trust set up by Australia's largest asbestos producer was likely to fall more than $2 billion short of meeting entitlements of sufferers of asbestos-related lung diseases.

Hardie had told the High Court and the state government it would leave sufficient funds in Australia to meet forseeable claims. Months later, at a secret board meeting after moving its headquarters to the Netherlands, it cancelled the relevant arrangement.

AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, who has fought a three-year battle for James Hardie to compensate lung disease sufferers and their families, said vindication of his union's position would not be enough.

"We have said all along that this was an act or corporate bastardry designed to sanitise James Hardie's name and remove its assets from the reach of dying Australians," Bastian said.

"These submissions vindicate that position but the real issue is to make the company meet its responsibilities and ensure some justice for the people who will die."

His union has written to NSW Premier, Bob Carr, with a five-point proposal to remedy "injustices" identified by evidence to the Jackson Inquiry.

The AMWU is urging government to ...

- replace management of MRCF, the trust fund created by Hardies when it moved to Holland.

- establish the office of a special James Hardie Prosecutor who would be given power, by legislation, to pursue all claims against the company, its advisers and officers who can be shown to have engaged in wrong doing.

- amend statutes of limitations in regard to proceedings against the James Hardie group and its various subsidiaries

- enact special purpose legislation to expedite litigation. Centrally, the AMWU believes evidence before the Jackson Inquiry should not have to be relitigated

- lift the corporate veil through amendmens to corporations laws and proposed amendments to the federal Corporations Act that would make Dutch-based James Hardie Industries NV accountable for the wrongdoing of it and its subsidiaries

In its final submission, James Hardie denied any wrong doing.

Commissioner David Jackson will report his findings to the NSW Government in September.


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