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Issue No. 241 08 October 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

That’s All Folks!
Perhaps the most depressing part of this federal election campaign has been the Howard Government’s success, with the willing assistance of the media, of typecasting the union movement as some sort of cartoon bogeyman.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Last Bastian
AMWU state secretary Paul Bastian has been at the centre of the three year battle to bring James Hardie to account.

Unions: High and Dry
Jim Marr unpacks the recent High Court Electrolux decision to test whether the ruling matches the media hype.

Security: Liquid Borders
The Howard Government loves to trumpet its national security credentials but a close look at its record in shipping sinks the myth argues MUA’s Zoe Reynolds.

Industrial: No Bully For You
Phil Doyle reports on how bringing dignity and respect to the workplace is undermining bullies.

History: Radical Brisbane
Radical Brisbane extends the 'Radical City' series into the Red North. Two experienced activists, academics and writers turn South East Queensland history on its head.

International: No Vacancies
More than 1400 hotel union workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, are on strike at four major hotels in San Francisco, California, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Life After Capitalism
A situation that all anarchists dream of? Michael Albert has been more than dreaming., writes Neale Towart

Technology: Cyber Winners
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks at a good news story of global online campaigning that has delivered a victory.

Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Teaser: Wondering why the polls are all over the place? Ask our resident bard and psephologist.

Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Voice of Southern Labor highlights the role music played in the 1930's US textile strikes, but more than that it provides a lucid insight into the roots of modern capitalism and some truly organic organising, writes Tara de Boehmler.

N E W S

 Telstra Dogs on Injured Woman

 Strike Three and We’re Out

 Boxall Beats Hasty Retreat

 Ashfield Moves on Home Truths

 Pratt in Warwick Farm Plunge

 Robert Reich's 2020 Vision

 Numbers Racket at Yandi

 Executive Pay Blue Looms

 Crazy Mike’s Fire Sale

 Kids Remember Kids

 DIY Security For Child Care

 Canada’s Asbestos Outrage

 Aussie Kids Thrown Overboard

C O L U M N S

Politics
True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues It’s Time – for an IR reality check.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Much work has been done in the past to ease the plight of clothing outworkers in New South Wales. It's time to step up the pressure, as sweatshops and clothing contract work are thriving stronger than ever, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Who Started the Class War?
Evan Jones looks across the Australian political landscape and asks who are the real class warriors?

The Locker Room
First Past The Post
Phil Doyle is coming up in class and is all the better for recent racing

Parliament
Westie Wing
Our favourite state MP returns for his monthly Macquarie Street wrap.

Postcard
Positive Action
Australian unionists are helping give hope to Filipino workers living with HIV/AIDS.

L E T T E R S
 Invest In Dignity - Part II
 No Credit
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Numbers Racket at Yandi


Mining contractor, Henry Walker Eltin, is rorting the numbers in its battle to impose AWAs on Yandi workers, according to ACTU organiser, Will Tracey.

Henry Walker Eltin, which extracts Pilbara iron ore for BHP Billiton, is spruiking the fact that AWA numbers have jumped from 40 to 80 since it locked out mineworkers.

But Tracey says those numbers flow from the contractor forcing new starters onto non-union individual contracts rather than any breakthrough in the battle for hearts and minds.

"They would be the only employers in Australia celebrating a 30 percent take-up rate," Tracey said. "They couldn't get their own workforce across because those people had the right to make up their own minds so, what they have done, is conscript people who needed jobs to keep their families going and claimed it as a victory.

"They had 15 percent of the original workforce and they have still got 15 percent of the people who were able to choose. Henry Walker Eltin's crowing is a celebration of mediocrity."

Yandi, hours from Newman in the remote Pilbara, is home to a showdown over the future of federal government AWAs in the booming minerals industry.

Companies, including BHP and Rio Tinto, have swung workforces away from union-negotiated agreements by putting massive bounties on individual agreements.

Yandi is the first mine site to overwhelmingly reject AWAs and Henry Walker Eltin has reacted with a brand of hardball that blows arguments about "freedom of choice" out the window.

The concept is undermined by inducements, worth about 25 percent of earnings, to walk away from collective contracts. When workers rejected those lures, Henry Walker Eltin decided that signing an AWA would be a prerequisite for new starters.

That insistence is at the heart of the stand-off between Yandi workers and the company. Unionised employees are demanding that new colleagues be given the freedom to choose between individual and collective contracts.

Tracey says that "fundamental democratic right" will be on the table when parties resume discussions after a softening up period of rolling stoppages, lockouts and, in one case, a lock-down in which workers were locked into their remote desert camp.

Meanwhile, Federal Court judge, Justice French, has ruled that, for the purposes of the Workplace Relations Act, lockout notices don't actually have to inform anyone of the employer's intention.

Justice French rejected an AMWU claim that Henry Walker Eltin lockout notices were deficient because unions couldn't have been aware of the action before it took place.

The company had pinned a lockout notice to the door of the union's Perth office at 5.30am on a Sunday, and locked its members out of Yandi, hundreds of kilometres to the north east, half an hour later.

Justice French accepted the company's view that for lockouts in response to industrial action, the Act did not require actual notification, only that the notice be written.

Justice French also found the company had given individual workers sufficient notice of the lockout, even when notices had been received after the lockout had started.


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