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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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Good Guy Wears Black

Bluescope attempts to lock out a worker for wearing a black hard hat ended in farce when electrician Mark Farrell was actually locked into the Westernport site.

Farrell rejected company claims his ETU hard hat presented visibility problems, arguing management spotted him from 100 metres when it called him in for a head-to-head about hats.

"Originally we had white hard hats and different groups like fire crews, security or visitors would have distinctive coloured hats," Farrell said. "Then they changed the general helmets from white to what they called 'melon', but, well, everyone could see it was pink.

"I continued to wear my white helmet until it expired and then wore the black one with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), logo."

Management told Farrell the black hat had to go, despite the fact he had reflective stickers on it. It had even used photographs ot the man, in black, for safety promotional photos.

Farrell was told he could not return to work unless he wore a management-approved colour.

Management said it was an "equal opportunity" issue, as a staff member felt intimidated by the hat. Despite Farrell expressing concern that such an allegation must reflect upon him personally, he was assured, no, it was the hat.

"They were clutching at straws," he said.

When Bluescope tried to evict Farrell he could not be found. Later, because it had switched off his swipe card. The locked out employee had, in fact, been locked in for the night.

The ETU workplace rep says that his black hard hat is a communications tool.

"Anyone that had concerns knew I had a sympathetic ear," he said. "I could even point non-members towards their appropriate union."

Bluescope's fashionistas have extended their regime to include shirts.

"I think this place has lost the plot. If their number one priority is safety they should be encouraging people to be seen. As long as the personal protective equipment people are wearing complies with the regulations then that should be it," Farrell said.

"It's not a fashion show."


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