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Issue No. 272 15 July 2005  

Home Ground Advantage
American pollster Vic Fingerhut has been in Australia this week with a reassuring message to the labour movement - it's OK to stand up for what you believe in - and it might even win you elections.


Interview: Battle Stations
Opposition leader Kim Beazley says he's ready to fight for workers right. But come July 1, he'll have to be fighting by different rules.

Unions: The Workers, United
It was a group of rank and filers who took centre stage when workers rallied in Sydney's Town Hall, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: The Lost Weekend
The ALP had a hot date, they had arranged to meet on the Town Hall steps, and Phil Doyle was there.

Industrial: Truth or Dare
Seventeen ivory towered academics upset those who know what is best for us last week.

History: A Class Act
After reading a new book on class in Australia, Neale Towart is left wondering if it is possible to tie the term down.

Economics: The Numbers Game
Political economist Frank Stilwell offers a beginners guide to understanding budgets

International: Blonde Ambition
Sweden can be an inspiration to labour movements the world over, as it has had community unionism for over 100 years, creating a vibrant caring society, rather than a "productive" lean economy.

Training: The Trade Off
Next time you go looking for a skilled tradesman and can’t find one, blame an economist, writes John Sutton.

Review: Bore of the Worlds
An invincible enemy has people turning against one another as they fight for survival – its not just an eerie view of John Howard’s ideal workplace, writes Nathan Brown.

Poetry: The Beaters Medley
In solidarity with the workers of Australia, Sir Paul McCartney (with inspiration from his old friend John Lennon) has joined the Workers Online resident bard David Peetz to pen some hits about the government's proposed industrial relations revolution.


 PM Rallies on Spin

 Crafty Boss Bytes Staff

 Andrews Faces "Thuggery" Challenge

 Delta Blues

 NRL Plays Man Not Ball

 Boeing Hits Turbulence

 Whole Truth Eludes Rev Kev

 Correct Weight Caulfield

 Business Nervous Over IR Changes

 Last Weekend Gets a Lift

 Free Pass for Death Doctors

 Activists Whats On!


The Soapbox
State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson lifts the lid on ‘The Nine Myths of Modern Unionism’

The Locker Room
Wrist Action
Phil Doyle trawls the murky depths of tawdry sleaze, and discovers Rugby is behind it all.

To Hew The Coal That Lies Below
Phil Doyle reviews Australia's first coal mining novel, Black Diamonds and Dust.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite State MP, Ian West, reports from Macquarie Street that the Premier is all the way with a State Commission.

 Do It Yourself?
 The vision thing
 True Lies
 You C.A.N. Do It
 Water Works
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Andrews Faces "Thuggery" Challenge

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews is being challenged to "put up or shut up" over accusations of criminality against building workers.

CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, threw down the gauntlet after Andrews claimed the industry was the scene of ongoing "thuggery and intimidation", last week.

Andrews levelled the accusations in defence of a government blacklist of employers who don't agree with its hardline industrial relations stance.

"This government's legislation, and its code, have nothing to do with thuggery," Sutton said. "They are attempts to hold down the living standards of building workers and their families.

"Efforts to wrap that agenda in a law and order cloak are blatantly dishonest and they insult tens of thousands of building workers.

"It's time for Kevin Andrews to put up or shut up."

Last week, Andrews again urged industry employers not to sign collective agreements with building workers. In case they are tempted, he confirmed, they would be barred from access to tens of millions of dollars worth of work.

Sutton said the Minister's emotive language fitted a pattern the government had used since coming to power in 1996.

In that period, he said, it had ...

- spent $65 million on a Royal Commission into the Building Industry that utilised more than 120 investigators to dig dirt on CFMEU members

- written special legislation for the industry that bars almost all forms of industrial action, including meetings, on pain of imprisonment

- established a special Building Industry Taskforce and given dozens of its officers, mostly lawyers and former police officers, sweeping coercive powers

- written a Code for the industry which used a blacklist to try and dissuade employers from negotiating with the union

Sutton said for all the "colour and dirt" of the Royal Commission, where sensational evidence dragged on in state capitals for more than a year, it resulted in only one prosecution, nationwide, and that was of a Western Australian building company.

He said the federal government campaign appeared to be built on the theory that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth.

The actions of the Taskforce, he said, had unmasked its true agenda.

"The Taskforce spends millions of dollars chasing union members and trying to hold down wages and conditions but turns a blind eye to any illegality when our members are on the receiving end," Sutton said.

He said Taskforce boss, Nigel Hadgkiss, had admitted as much when he conceded issues of importance to workers were "outside his remit".


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