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Issue No. 273 22 July 2005  

Split Infinitives
As unions across Australia put up a united front against the Howard IR assault, events across the Pacific serve as a warning of what can happen when individuals start going one out.


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.


 Centrelink to Cheat Workers

 Foot Soldiers Get Blisters

 Feds to Lift Voting Age

 Taskforce Plastered

 Paint It Slack


 Hadgkiss in Safety Failure

 Freedom to Starve

 Police And Thieves

 Feds Make Asbestos Blue

 Scabs Farewelled

 Capital Idea Under Threat

 Masterton Homes Crumbles

 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.

 Frame Up
 Keep the Faith
 Life on a Low Wage
 Seeing the Trees For the Wood
 Carnival Comes to Town
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Hadgkiss in Safety Failure

A Building Industry Taskforce attempt to block workplace safety checks has been thrown out of court.

In another embarrassing defeat for the Nigel Hadgkiss-led Taskforce, A Melbourne judge has rejected its claim that CFMEU organiser, Fergal Doyle, "intentionally hindered" a Melbourne site supervisor by checking safety standards.

On the contrary, Justice Ron Merkel ruled, the supervisor had left his normal duties to follow Doyle and an elected safety rep around the site so he could digitally record everything they did, on the advice of the Taskforce, itself.

Justice Merkel said the worker representative had not required the supervisor's participation in the safety inspection and the decision to follow him around, for about half an hour, had been "entirely a matter for him to decide".

Doyle had claimed the right to visit the site because his union had negotiated a certified agreement with a subcontractor at the Villex site.

Justice Merkel found Doyle had exercised right of entry to the job as a "matter of fact, rather than a matter of law" and said it was "unfortunate" that the case did not resolve the "real dispute" about the validity of safety inspections under subcontractors' EBAs.

The head contractor had sought to block Doyle from the workplace.

The Taskforce, bankrolled by taxpayers to spearhead the federal government's crusade against building workers, has spent millions of dollars in running cases on behalf of industry employers.

CFMEU officials complain that it doesn't seem bothered about courtroom defeats. That its real objective appears to be tying the union up in legal proceedings and forcing it to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on defending its right to exist.

It has drawn scathing judicial criticism for its methods and some of the cases it has run.

Earlier this year, Justice Wilcox in the NSW Supreme Court, described a case it had brought against the CFMEU as "hopeless".

"Even on the view of the facts propounded by the applicants," he said, "their case was hopeless. It was instituted without reasonable cause."

His comments came just four months after a Melbourne judge accused Hadgkiss' organisation of using "undemocratic" and "authoritarian" tactics, after it had demanded that workers submit personal bank account details.

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

The Taskforce was then exposed in the Australian Senate for secretely recording people at work.

The federal government responded by announcing its intention to turn the Taskforce into a permanent Commission with increased coercive powers.


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