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Issue No. 244 29 October 2004  

Raking Over The Tea Leaves
Prepare yourselves; you are about to enter the Twilight Zone, a strange world where logic collapses in on itself, where enemies are new friends and assets become liabilities.


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.


 Cameron Flags Fightback

 Latham on Union Mat

 Union Shelters WA Roofers

 Bosses Trip on Electrolux

 Drivers Derail Game Boy

 Asses Get Carrot

 Families Pay More For Homes

 Commonwealth Banks on Sackings

 Back Gong Back in Gong

 "Joke" Fine Death Boss

 Division Over Hardie Laws

 Activists What's On!


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

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

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

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

 Honesty Is the best Policy
 Nothing To Stand On
 It’s The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
 Dear Mark letter
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Union Shelters WA Roofers

A two-week strike by WA tilers has helped the CFMEU knock off a cartel demanding contractors use AWAs to keep employees on "sweatshop" rates.

In the unprecedented action, contractors and workers joined forces to wring improvements out of four companies benefiting from the state’s home building boom.

Monier, Bristile, Prime and anti-union activist Len Buckeridge's Harmony Group had operated a restrictive system in the traditionally un-unionised sector by selling tiles and labour as a bundled product.

Tiling contractors said they would eventually need 50 percent increases to bring their workers onto parity with eastern states counterparts.

During their stoppage, the CFMEU received public support from unexpected quarters. Local broadcaster and former West Australian editor, Paul Murray, said the WA tiling industry had "all the hallmarks of a modern day sweatshop".

CFMEU state secretary, Kevin Reynolds, said the four companies had suppressed rates to the point that, in the midst of a housing boom, contractors couldn't afford to pay award minimums.

"Even though the award pay for a first year junior is just $6 an hour, most didn't even get that," Reynolds said. "Other kids got more working at McDonalds and KFC.

"The only future for young tilers in this state was to be robbed blind and then thrown on the scrap heap when they burned out at an early age."

Back in 1992, WA IRC chief commissioner Bill Coleman, reported that few tilers remained in the industry until their 50s.

"Their fate appears to be either to obtain a position as a supervisor or be forced out on the invalid pension," Coleman reported.

A recent Housing Industry Association report found that the average pay of WA tradesmen had risen 12.5 percent in the past year, except in the roofing industry where rates had moved 1.5 percent.

When the CFMEU launched its campaign, the tiling cartel threatened ACCC action against contractors who supported increased rates for their employees on the grounds that it was a breach of the Trades Practices Act.

About 800 tilers were involved in the strike. They returned to work this week after the companies agreed to fund 15 percent increases, over three years; and increase casual loadings, redundancy, sick leave and annual leave entitlements.

Tilers also won site and height allowance payments.


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