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Issue No. 251 11 February 2005  

Polar Shifts
And so Workers Online makes our belated return to 2005 - and while we may have the same old familiar faces in Federal Parliament, politically, it’s a whole new ball game.


Economics: Super Seduction
Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers.

Interview: Bono and Me
ACTU Sharan Burrow lifts the lid on the rock star lifestyle of an international union leader.

Unions: The Eight Hour Day and the Holy Spirit
Rowan Cahill bucks conventional wisdom to argue the eight-hour day began in Sydney.

Economics: OEC-Who?
The OECD calls for more reform. But, Asks Neale Towart, who is really doing the calling?

Technology: From Widgets to Digits
How can unions grow and continue to successfully represent workers when their traditional structures are rooted in an industry, craft or fixed location?

Education: Dumb and Dumber
Unions are leading the fight against a political agenda that does away with smart jobs.

Health: No Place for the Young
The support of union members is required to help get young people out of nursing homes, writes Mark Robinson

History: The Work-In That Changed a Nation
February 17 marks 30-years to the day that sacked coal miners at the NSW Northern District Nymboida Colliery began their historic work-in at the mine.

Review: Dare to Win
The history of the militant and often controversial BLF is as surprising as it is fascinating writes Tim Brunero.

Poetry: Labor's Dreaming
With another change at the helm of the Labor Party, our resident bard, David Peetz, can't help but dreamily drawing on some political history.


 Plastic Man Crosses the Line

 Taskforce Loses "Payback" Evidence

 Court Out … Again

 Blue Chips Fried in CBD

 Bosses Duck Decapitation

 Computer Driven Posties

 Stalking Horses in Safety Stampede

 Low Blow in Ferry Blue

 Howard "Unbalanced"

 Picketers Chase Millions

 Whistleblower Beats Bullies

 Mateship Shines Through

 Queensland Marks Power Grab

 Vale Laurie Aarons 1917-2005


Titanic Forces
There are book reviewers who have not read the book they have just reviewed and there are critics who have criticised films they have not yet seen. I want to review a novel that has not yet been written.

The Soapbox
Labour and Labor
Grant Bellchamber looks at the relationship between both sides organised labour

Aussie Unions Help Tsunami Victims
The union movement’s aid agency reports back on its relief effort in Asia.

The Locker Room
Game, Set and Yawn
Phil Doyle asks if tennis is evil or just boring

The Westie Wing
As a reshuffle of the State Ministry settles in and the Federal Government throws down the gauntlet, 2005 promises to be a new and vital chapter in the struggle for workers and their families, writes Ian West in Macquarie Street.

 Nelson's Double Standard
 Morals Beat Hasty Retreat
 Uncounted Cost Of Asbestos
 Voting Farce Expands
 I Beg To Differ
 Politics Smolitics
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Court Out … Again

The Federal Court has upheld the right of unions to police health and safety in tossing out another batch of prosecutions run by the Building Industry Taskforce.

Justice Murray Wilcox rejected allegations brought by Taskforce boss, Nigel Hadgkiss, that a Wollongong sub-contractor had been drummed off a site because he refused to join the CFMEU.

Wilcox heard evidence that the subbie, PJ and LJ Smith Plant Hire, had been operating dangerous equipment and didn't have Workers Compensation paperwork in order.

He heard that the subcontractor, claiming to have an annual wage bill of $100, had failed to comply with repeated requests to update workers comp records.

"Officials of unions whose members are working in an inherently dangerous place such as a construction site have an obligation to those members to take an interest in occupational health and safety issues and the adequacy of insurance arrangements affecting workers on the site," Justice Wilcox ruled.

The reverse for the Howard Government's Taskforce came just three months after a Melbourne judge characterised its tactics as "undemocratic" and "authoritarian".

Federal Court Justice Marshall ruled the Taskforce did not have the right to access the personal bank accounts of building workers employed on the Concept Blue site.

Marshall criticised Hadgkiss' organisation for failing to disclose the purpose of its investigation when it ordered workers to produce the details, after hearing, in evidence, that it "might not have (had) a suspicion about anything".

"Such notices are foreign to the workplace relations of civilised society, as distinct from undemocratic and authoritarian states," Justice Marshall ruled.

Days after the Marshall ruling, Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, confirmed the federal government would further boost Taskforce powers.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported, last week, that the Building Industry Taskforce has taken eight cases to court in more than two years. It has churned its way through more than $13 million taxpayer dollars to recover $15,000 in fines.


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