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Issue No. 250 21 December 2004  

Beyond The Law
Despite the all-engulfing gloom emenating from our political wing right now, 2004 comes to an end on a strangely upbeat note for the trade union movement.


Interview: The King of Comedy
John Robertson looks back on a year when his comic genius was finally realised.

Unions: Ten Simple Rules
Accepted wisdom has unions all but retired as serious players in the Australian game. A glance through the major industrial stories of 2004, however, suggests improved footwork, and a commitment to boxing clever, might herald a comeback, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Rampant Indivdualism
CFMEU National Secretary John Sutton gives his take on a year when the political debate took a turn to the Right.

International: Global Struggle
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks back on a year when the struggles for labour increasingly crossed international lines.

Economics: Cashing in the Year
Look back in sorrow or look back in anger? By any standards 2004 has been a hell of a year, writes Frank Stilwell.

History: Grass Roots
Worker solidarity in Australia in the first century of invasion can give us inspiration and clues for our upcoming battles, writes Neale Towart.

Review: Cultural Realities
In 2004 popular culture shifted from reality television to reality movies, and swapped last year's light-weight subject matter for the slightly more substantial, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Y-U-C-K
Workers Online resident bard David Peetz takes inspiration from The Village People for his latest prose.


 Unions Make Hardie Pay

 Hadgkiss Gives Mourners Grief

 Mum Gets "Hopson’s" Choice

 AWAs Crash on Broken Hill

 No Fun in the Sack

 Tax Office Draws Blood

 Origin Prop a Union Hit

 Good Guy Wears Black

 Security Crisis at Sydney Airport

 Biscuit Bosses Crumble

 Ardmona Urged to Can Racism

 Bomber Predicts Big Bang

 Stolen Wages Cut

 Tomorrow the World…

 Bosses Sack WorkCover

 Activists What's On!


The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2005.

The Soapbox
Scrooge Was Right
Christmas has been cancelled this year, writes our US correspondent Brooklyn Phil.

The Locker Room
The Workers Online Sports Awards
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the Twentieth Century, Phil Doyle dishes out the gongs for all things great and small in the world of sport during 2004.

The Westie Wing
Our favoutrite MP looks for a positive spin on the year at NSW Parliament

 Costa’s Hike Unfare
 Temporary Arrangements
 The Price Of Tea In China
 Cry For Me, Argentina
 Ho Bloody Ho
 Right Is Wrong
 Business As Usual
 All In The Family
 Swing Left Wishful Thinking
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AWAs Crash on Broken Hill

AWAs have been run out of Broken Hill after the boss who tried to foist them on disability workers shot through.

Wayne Nicholas threatened 30 Silverlea Community Care employees with the sack if they didn’t agree to become the state’s lowest paid disability workers.

The AWA's would have reduced conditions and removed penalty and weekend rates, taking the workers below the award safety net.

But when the ASU got Nicholas to the Federal Court he had spat the dummy and handed the centre back to the State Government for re-tender.

The Court ruled Nicholas, who had refused to even meet with workers, could not sack staff or reduce wages.

ASU organiser, Col Lynch, says Nicolas still owes staff $60,000 in back pay, because he refused to increase earnings in line with the last two state wage case decisions.

Lynch says workers have also been denied superannuation payments since April. He says client fees had also been increased at the centre to 85 percent of their disability pensions, the highest he had heard of.

The ASU is still prosecuting Nicholas in both the NSW IRC and the Federal Court.

Nicholls also runs disability centres in Bourke, the Riverina and Townsville.

Lynch says the union will be making sure the new provider increases services in line with the expectations of clients and their families.

"This is the first time Nicholas has tried to take the union head on in a small community service," says Lynch.

"All the workers joined the union and refused to sign AWAs, despite the threat of the sack five days before Christmas.

"It does show AWA's can be resisted if workers stick together."

Brett Campbell from the Barrier Industrial Council said the solidarity between disability carers, clients and families, the ASU and the local community allowed Broken Hill to keep the Workplace Relations Act out.

"This is why Broken Hill remains a great place," said Campbell.


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