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Issue No. 232 06 August 2004  

Tarnished Rings
As our athletes approach the starting line in Athens, it is interesting to reflect on how the world has changed since Sydney was the centre of a global group hug just four years ago.


Interview: Trading Places
New ACTU International Officer Alison Tate cut her teeth delivering aid to developing nations through APHEDA. Now she is helping chart the global union agenda.

Safety: Snow Job
James Hardie has been drilled into our collective consciousness as a story of power, greed and immorality. It is also, as Jim Marr reports, a tale of human tragedy.

Politics: In the Vanguard
Damien Cahill reveals how neo-liberal think tanks have been at the forefront of the corporate assault upon trade unions and social movements in Australia.

Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Don�t get between Sydney sparkie Semir Pepic and a gold medal in a dimly lit alley, writes Tim Brunero.

Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
Perfect Porker, Darren Vincent, brings a history of meat worker shafting to this month�s Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europe�s big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours � without any recompense, reports Andrew Casey.

History: Under the Influence
Was John Kerr drunk when he wrote and signed the letter dismissing Edward Gough Whitlam from the Prime Ministership in 1975? Geraldine Willissee investigates.

Economics: Working Capital
Where superannuation fits, where it fails and what we should we do about it. Neale Towart gives the tough answers.

Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
There's many a must see moment in Mike Moore's new flick but beating the propaganda machine at its own game wreaks havoc with wearied bullshit detectors, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
When Flood washed away the PM's sins, the truth was once again left high and dry.

Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
During a recent visit to an elderly relative in a nursing home, I was waylaid by an ancient gentleman who insisted I listen to what he had to say, writes Rowan Cahill.


 Stink Rises from Hamberger

 ALP Embraces Collectivism

 Bully Drives Deckhand into Drink

 Fighter in Cancer Link

 Tunnellers Dig in for Safety

 Seconds Out in Newcastle

 Vale Josh Heuchan

 "Betrayal" Sparks Election Rethink

 Councils Wedge James Hardie

 Great Southern Death Rattler

 Libs Desert "War Criminal"

 Casuals Take Over

 ALP Star Hits The Waterfront

 Activists What�s On!


The Westie Wing
The Labor Governments in each State must take the lead to stop the abuse of corporate law in Australia in the absence of action from the Federal Government, as the Inquiry into James Hardie�s has highlighted, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Cleaners Deserve Our Support
It's time the state's cleaners were given some support, loyalty and long service leave, writes Chris Christodoulou.

The Locker Room
Half Time At The Football
Phil Doyle wants to have his pie and eat it too.

Faithful Servant
Frank Mossfield was one of the labour movement�s quiet achievers. Former Labor Council secretary Michael Easson pays tribute.

Lessons From East Timor
Just back from a study tour to East Timor, National Reserach Officer with the Construction division of the CFMEU, Ben Stirling, writes about the experience for Workers Online.

 An Officer And A Teacher
 Tom Goes Asexual
 Road Rage At Work
 Democracy In Action
 Asbestos Bastadry
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Stink Rises from Hamberger

The Office of the Employment Advocate is registering fraudulent AWAs, a court has heard.

Forty-year construction industry veteran, Alan Kuret, told the Federal Court in Perth the office had registered a non-union AWA in his name although he had never seen, nor signed, the document.

He said, after an IRC inspection of the Burrup Fertilisers site, he had been asked to sign a pre-dated AWA by managers of Killarnee Formwork on Tuesday, March 2.

The following day, he refused, and a Killarnee supervisor had told him: "you are out of here today".

Kuret said that Killarnee boss, Paul Thompson, had informed him: "Everyone on the job is on an AWA, someone has signed for you."

He wrote to the OEA seeking the document it had registered and viewed it for the first time on April 14, 2004.

"The employee's signature that appears on the letter of offer and the AWA is not my signature," Kuret said in an affidavit. "I know this because I did not sign a letter of offer or an AWA prior to, during, or after commencing employment with Killarnee.

"None of the handwriting on the letter of offer or the AWA is my own."

Kuret's evidence was not contested.

It came in a case that also heard from the OEA's WA regional manager that his office registered electronically submitted AWAs outside the 21 days allowed by law.

Justice French called that practice "surprising".

He also heard that the OEA routinely accepted AWAs with no signatures.

The proceedings undermined key federal government claims for AWAs.

Former Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott, argued the individual, non-union contracts were about freedom of choice, flexibility and undermining pattern agreements.

However, some Burrup Fertilisers contractors will not give a start to anyone who refuses to sign an AWA. Indeed, the company at the centre of the Perth case, anti-union activist Len Buckeridge's, BGC, binds its sub-contractors to only employing on AWAs.

WA unions say similar practises abound, especially in resource development, where major employers refuse jobs to anyone who insists on a union agreement.

"AWAs are simply a strategy for deunionising the workplace," CFMEU WA secretary, Kevin Reynolds, says.

"There is no freedom of choice and there is no flexibility. It is AWA or the highway.

"Then this government rants about pattern bargaining but we've seen 100 AWAs from this contractor, alone. Each is the same, in form and substance.

"They are pattern agreements and the Office of the Employment Advocate is rubber-stamping them as fast as it can go, even when workers haven't seen them or signed them."

The OEA was established and funded by the Howard Government to both promote and police AWAs.

It has spent millions of dollars on promotion but take-up has been minimal with less than four percent of working Australians covered by them.

Last month, the head of the OEA, Jonathan Hamberger, was appointed to the IRC bench.

The federal government, employers like the Buckeridge Group, and the OEA have always contended unions had no right to approach, or speak to, employees that had been forced onto AWAs.

But, last week, Justice French ruled, the CFMEU had the right to enter Burrup Fertilisers and speak to AWA employees.

Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, immediately foreshadowed an appeal, or legislation, to overturn the implications of that decision.

Reynolds says the Minister would be better occupied trying to make the OEA comply with the law.

He has challenged Andrews to launch an independent review of the OEA and all electronically-lodged AWAs.

"The uncontested evidence clearly makes it possible for fraud to be committed and for the OEA to be none the wiser," Reynolds said.

"The challenges for the Minister are to ensure an agency under his control acts within the law, and that companies that have committed fraud are prosecuted."


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