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Issue No. 256 18 March 2005  

Planet Common Cents
The current debate around the federal government’s move to ban compulsory university service fees exposes more than a pathological hatred of all things ‘union’.


Interview: Dot.Com
Evan Thornley was a labour activist. Then he rode the tech wave. Now he's home with new ideas on how Labor can win the economic debate.

Workplace: Dirt Cheap
In her new book, Elizabeth Wynhausen learns how hard it is to live on the minimum wage.

Industrial: Daddy Doesn’t Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegas’ tells the story of the loss her young family has felt since her husband was killed at work, and the need for justice for families who fall victim to industrial manslaughter.

Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
Big Business's agenda for Australia has gone from loopy to mainstream at the speed of light, writes Neale Towart

International: From the Wreckage
Working people across Iraq are struggling to build their own independent unions – and are successfully organising industrial action on the vital oil fields as well as in hotels, transport outlets and factories, Writes Andrew Casey

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Meat and Three Veg
A new book recounts the impact of the Depression on women workers, writes Neale Towart,

Savings: 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, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Federal shadow treasurer Wayne Swan unveils Labor's new economic doctrine.

Poetry: To Know Somebody
This week saw an appointment to the ABC Board that was even more breathtaking than that of Liberal Party figure Michael Kroger. Resident Bard David Peetz celebrates the occasion with a reworking of an old Bee Gees hit.

Review: Off the Rails
A new play on the impact of rail privatisation in Britain has a poignant message for Sydney commuters, writes Alex Mitchell


 MaxiRort in Ballarat

 Beer Boss’ Want Froth

 Facts Ruin Costello’s Story

 Uni Burns Book Man

 Strong Pulls Pianist

 Terminator Runs Away

 No Choice for Small Business

 Scully On Run from Cops

 Picketer Wins $190,000

 Wheat Board on Sea of Shame

 School Raids Condemned

 Tangled Web Weaved

 CASA Cans Safety

 Radioactive Relay Race

 Activist’s What’s On!


The Soapbox
The Big Picture
Think about this: It takes 150 tonnes of iron ore to buy a plasma TV, writes Doug Cameron.

The Locker Room
Reducto Ad Absurdo
Phil Doyle offers advice for the lovelorn, and finds that things are getting smaller

New Matilda
Work is In
The rise and fall of the working hours debate in france is relevent to Australian workers, writes Daniel Donahoo and Tim Martyn

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP surveys the upcoming conservative centralist collective attack.

Postcard from Harvard
Australian union officials making the annual pilgrimage to the Harvard Trade Union Program learnt that, at least, they are not alone, says Natalie Bradbury.

 Poor Prose Praised
 Fabulous Fan Mail
 Skilled Tools
 Nelson ‘Solves’ Skills Crisis
 Loyalty Nonsense
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Picketer Wins $190,000

A former Walter Construction manager who manned the union picket line with building workers has won $190,000 in unpaid entitlements.

Forty-two year veteran, Col Marsh, was only entitled to a third of the $190,000 in unpaid redundancy, long service, annual leave and superannuation under the Government's GEERS scheme

But action from the CFMEU meant a Walter client on whose project Mr Marsh was working agreed to provide the entitlements he was owed.

Mr Marsh said the collapse of Walter had forced him to retire and the minimal amount of money he was expecting to receive under the GEERS scheme threatened major financial hardship.

"The Federal Government needs to change the laws so all workers have their entitlements protected, because not everyone will be as lucky as me to have a strong union like the CFMEU to negotiate a full settlement for them," said Marsh.

CFMEU assistant secretary Brian Parker said the union had made it clear from the beginning it would fight for all workers' entitlements.

"Some white collar workers like Col joined the union, manned the picket lines and stood with us in our fight and that is how we have been able to win this victory for them."

Over 450 former white collar former colleagues of Mr Marsh are owed over $18 million dollars in pay, superannuation, long service, redundancy, annual leave, and untaken RDO's.

Former workers of bankrupt construction giant last week launched a mobile billboard calling for the GEERS scheme to be beefed up.

The government funded GEERS scheme only ensures minimal entitlements, such as eight weeks redundancy, are paid.

After the company collapse a busload of the workers met with Kim Beazley in Canberra and presented 4000 signatures calling for change.

The workers argue the scheme is too slow and should cover 100 percent of entitlements.

"It doesn't work," former Walter Construction corporate services manager, Mike Walsh, says.

"Despite the collapse of HIH, OneTel, Ansett and now Walter there is still no provision to protect the full entitlements of Australian workers in case their employer collapses," Walsh says.


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