||Issue No. 254||04 March 2005|
Thatís Our Team
Workplace: Dirt Cheap
Industrial: Daddy Doesnít Live With Us Anymore
Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
International: From the Wreckage
Politics: Infrastructure Blues
History: Meat and Three Veg
Savings: Super Seduction
Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Poetry: To Know Somebody
Review: Off the Rails
The Locker Room
Janetís Job No Victory
Royal Finger Lickers
Will $20 Restore Carr?
Itís Official - Taskforce "Hopeless"
The hapless Taskforce copped another judicial spray as CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, revealed it had gone "missing" when industry participants closed ranks against an extortionist who threatened to kill union members.
The CFMEU, Multiplex and police shared intelligence in a bid to head off a standover merchant who said he would shoot crane drivers if their employer didn't hand over $50 million.
But Ferguson said the Building Industry Taskforce, headed by Nigel Hadgkiss, had shown no interest.
"The Taskforce was non-existent," Ferguson said. "When the industry was rocked by a major extortion racket and threats of murder, it was nowhere to be seen.
"They talk about zero tolerance for unlawful behaviour but, apparently, this didn't register on their radar.
"They are a one-trick pony whose only interest is intimidating workers and trying to hold down their living standards."
Australian taxpayers were left with the bill, after the latest Taskforce case against the CFMEU went belly-up in the Federal Court.
Last Friday, in the middle of the Multiplex scare, the court ordered the Taskforce to pay costs incurred by the CFMEU in defending allegations it had tried to force a Wollongong contractor to join up.
Justice Wilcox slammed the "hopeless" case put before him by Hadgkiss' organisation.
"Even on the view of the facts propounded by the applicants, their case was hopeless," Justice Wilcox said. "It was instituted without reasonable cause."
His comments came just four months after a Melbourne judge suggested Taskforce methods were "undemocratic" and "authoritarian".
Justice Marshall was critical of the Taskforce's failure to disclose the purpose of an investigation, during which it ordered workers to produce personal bank details.
"Such notices are foreign to the workplace relations of civilised societies, as distinct from undemocratic and authoritarian states," Justice Marshall said.
He challenged the Taskforce's approach after it admitted, in court, it "might not have suspicion of anything".
Justice Marshall ruled it did not have the right to access the bank accounts of CFMEU members on Melbourne's Concept Blue site.
Hadgkiss Backs Asbestos Abuser
Meanwhile, Hadgkiss has initiated legal action against the Victorian Government for refusing to grant a contract to a demolition contractor that dusted Yallourn with asbestos.
In documents filed in the federal court, Hadgkiss seeks fines of up to $33,300 for alleged breaches of Howard Government laws. He claims the company was excluded from a Gippsland tender process because it wanted employees to work on a non-union agreement.
But in a re-run of arguments heard before the Cole Royal Commission, workers say Able Contractors has an abysmal safety record.
"In the past this company imploded a chimney at the old power station, blowing asbestos all over Yallourn," said John Parker, secretary of the Gippsland Trades and Labor Council. "They let a worker fall through a sheet of asbestos."
There are also allegations that it blocked health and safety inspections by an independent hygienist, Worksafe officers and unions at the Lurgi Gas Plant.
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