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Issue No. 263 13 May 2005  

A Fistful of Dollars
And so the great political debate of our time has become who gets the money and how quickly they can pocket it – the Howard Government’s latest application of the base art of wedge politics.


Interview: Fortress NSW
NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca on how to win the battle for workers rights - and save the state system.

Unions: Fashions Afield
With new anti-sweatshop creations being paraded at this year's Australian Fashion Week, is equity the new black and are sweatshops the new fur? asks Tara de Boehmler.

Industrial: Pay Dirt
John Burgess argues that the flow-on effect from changing the minimum wage could be more than we bargained for.

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: Big Day Out
Neale Towart looks back on the events that created the May Day heritage.

International: Making History
Hundreds of aid organisations, charities, trade unions and religious groups have formed a global alliance called “ Make Poverty History”.

Economics: The Fear Factor
The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning, argues John Spoehr

Review: The Robots Revolt
New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The idea of a corporations power that could cure any ill has inspired our resident bard, David Peetz, to verse.


 Bikies Needle Heroines

 Bosses Play China Card

 Giant Collapses on Ankle

 NAB Cuts More Than Jobs

 Left Footers Kick Back

 Oh Brother, Tim Plays House

 WA on the Block

 Patrick Fails to Hide Asbestos

 Budget Hits Civil Rights

 Combet Launches Shark Attack

 Childcare Wage Grows Up

 US To Drain More Aussie Brains

 Dictators Beg Eric To Stop


The Soapbox
May Spray
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson delivered the annual May Day Toast - and warned it is no time to be comfortable and relaxed.

The Locker Room
A Rucking Good Time
Phil Doyle reveals many things, some of them useful

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, is back to regale us with inside goss and intrigue from the Bearpit.

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Bikies Needle Heroines

Motorcycle gangs are being used to intimidate women picketing a Melbourne company that wants to turn them into sham contractors.

A dozen motorcycle gang members, some wearing helmets and bandanas, crashed the Kemalex Plastics picket line at Dandenong South on Thursday.

NUW secretary, Martin Pakula, said bikies, escorting tyres into the factory, abused picketing women.

"Our members at this site are mainly migrant women and it seems an extreme over-reaction for nearly a dozen male bikers to escort tyres onto the site," he said.

"The women were so concerned for their safety that they called the local police for assistance."

Fifty five women, paid as little as $12.62 an hour, have been picketing since their boss greeted claims for a new enterprise bargaining agreement with an announcement that all new starters would be contractors, outside the terms of any negotiated agreement.

Kemalex managing director, Richard Colebatch, has already turned 10 existing employees into "contractors".

Company reps have payed late-night visits to the homes of women refusing to become contract to threaten they will be sued.

The NUW says Colebatch's independent contracts are "bogus" and have been instigated to strip away "basic employee rights".

Pakula said Kemalex highlighted the sham independent contracting had become and urged the Howard Government to bring offending companies into line.

"It is farcical that companies can use independent contracting arrangements to shirk all their legal responsibilities, and strip workers of their basic rights," he said.

"Employees are entitled to annual leave, sick leave and long service leave. They are entitled to superannuation contributions and to have their employers take tax out of their wages. None of these rights, though, apply to independent contractors."

He said Kemalex workers met none of the tests traditionally applied to contractors. They only worked for the one company, which set their hours and requirered them to work at its premises.

ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, visited the Dandenong picketers today and said he feared their treatment was a sign of things to come as the federal government sought to strip away basic rights.

Combet challenged the Workplace Relations Minister to launch an inquiry into Kemalex's use of contracting.

"What we want to know from Kevin Andrews is does he support this disgraceful independent contracting sham or does he oppose it?" Combet said.

Andrews is currently running an inquiry into labour hire and independent contracting.

The National Institute of Economic and Industry Research has warned that the rush to labour hire and contracting is exposing taxpayers to a $14.38 billion annual loss.

Presenting those figures to the contracting inquiry, AMWU secretary Doug Cameron, said $14.38 billion could wipe out the public health crisis by funding 42 new teaching hospitals, or paying for an extra 5.6 million operations.


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