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Issue No. 250 21 December 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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!

C O L U M N S

Predictions
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.

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

L E T T E R S
 Costa’s Hike Unfare
 Temporary Arrangements
 The Price Of Tea In China
 Goodthink
 Cry For Me, Argentina
 Ho Bloody Ho
 Amen
 Right Is Wrong
 Business As Usual
 All In The Family
 Swing Left Wishful Thinking
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Bosses Sack WorkCover


Moves by the big end of town to walk away from workers’ comp schemes threaten small business as well as injured workers, according to governments and unions.

State governments are wrestling with their federal counterparts over companies opting for Canberra's Comcare workers' compensation scheme

"The problem with big companies opting out is that it will put a lot of pressure on small business," says NSW Labor Council Occupational Health and Safety officer Mary Yaager. "Following the collapse of HIH workers should be very wary of moves by big companies to self-insure."

The move to 'opt-out' of state based schemes could impact on their financial viability.

NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca is also concerned about the impact of such moves on small businesses.

Della-Bosca pointed out that any company leaving the NSW WorkCover scheme would continue to have responsibility for its current and future cost of claims.

Administration costs have been cited by some large companies as a reason to move away from state based schemes.

"It is not necessarily a cheaper option," says Actuary David Zaman. "Underlying administration costs for state based schemes are small compared moving to a national scheme."

The Victorian WorkCover Authority is moving to block Optus from signing up to the Federal government scheme saying that losing businesses like Optus pushes up premiums for those businesses that remain.

The Victorian government has taken its asking the Federal Court to rule its constitutional right to determine its insurance arrangements.

The case will be closely watched by the states running their own workers compensation schemes.


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