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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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Bosses Trip on Electrolux

Militant employers have failed in a bid to knock more than 10 clauses out of a workplace agreement in the first major test of last month’s Electrolux ruling.

AIRC senior vice president, Iain Ross, green-lighted controls on contract labour, prohibitions on AWAs and union entry rights contained in an NUW agreement covering employees at LK Ballantyne’s Laverton site.

The decision de-bunked the insistence of some industrial law firms that they could roll dozens of negotiated agreement because key clauses failed to "pertain" to the strict interpretation of the employer-employee relationship contained in the Workplace Relations Act.

Vice president Ross rejected the employers' contention that anything designed to strengthen the positions of unions, or their members, was illegal.

"The submissions of the Ai Group and ACCI almost seem to proceed on the assumption that clauses which give unions, or their representatives, rights are, almost be definition, not clauses which pertain to the employment relationship and hence cannot be included in a certified agreement.

"This is a false premise. The task to be undertaken is one of characterisation," Ross said.

Ross did, however, roll a clause providing for union fee deductions, along with another allowing union delegates access to new workers to discuss union matters.

Ross said certified agreements could contain clauses that were "machinery in nature, ancillary or incidental" to a matter that pertained to the employer-employee relationship.

He okayed the following clauses which employers had sought to have ruled illegal:

- an agreement to commence negotiations three months before the current deal expires

- indemnities for employees against damages claims

- casual employees, including those employed by a third party, to receive no less than terms contained in the agreement

- substitution of public holidays

- trade union training leave

- a commitment not to introduce AWAs during the life of the agreement

- union notice board obligation on employer

- paid time off for union delegates

- time off for paid union meetings

- right of entry

- requirement on employer to keep time and wages records

NUW Victorian secretary, Martin Pakula, called the decision a "fantastic result" that meant, with some "minor changes", unions could could negotiate as normal.

Attention will now turn to Perth where Westfarmers Coal is seeking unspecified damages from the AMWU, WA state officials and four Collie delegates on the grounds that "protected" action was, in fact, "unprotected" because, under Electrolux principles, some claims did not pertain to the employer-employee relationship.

This case takes the Electrolux argument one step further, testing the ability of employers to financially cripple unions if claims are subsequently found not to pertain.

Westfarmers, represented by Clayton Utz, has taken exception to half a dozen claims, including right of entry, controls on contracting, delegate education and local government representation leave.

Its arguments will go before Justice French, in the Federal Court, this week.


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