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Issue No. 280 09 September 2005  

The Perfect Storm
The mayhem and misery engulfing New Orleans and its surrounds is more than a human tragedy of mammoth proportions, it is the product of a convergence of events that could shift our worldview every bit as much as the attacks on September 11, 2001.


Interview: Polar Eclipse
Academic David McKnight challenges some sacred cows in his new book "Beyond Left and Right".

Industrial: Wrong Turn
Radical labour reform is on the horizon but some workers, like Sydney bus driver Yvonne Carson, have seen it all before, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Star Support
It wasn't just families who backed workers' rights at The Last Weekend, but a bunch of musicians who set the tone, writes Chrissy Layton.

Workplace: Checked Out
Glenda Kwek asks you to consider the plight of the retail worker, and shares some of her experiences

Economics: Sold Out
The Future Fund and industrial relations reform are favourite projects of the PM and the Treasurer. Both are speculations on the future and the only guarantee with them is that you will be worse off, writes Neale Towart.

Politics: Green Banned
The impact of new building industry laws won’t be confined to one industry, writes CFMEU national secretary John Sutton.

History: Potted History
Lithgow is a place with a proud history as a union town. The origins of broader community solidarity lie in the early industrial development of the town and the development of unions. The Lithgow Pottery dispute of 1890 was a key event.

International: Curtain Call
The curtains have opened for East Timor’s young theatre performers, thanks to a Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project.

Review: Little Fish
At last! An Aussie film with substance, suspense and a serious dose of reality, writes Lucy Muirhead

Poetry: Slug A Worker
In a shock development, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, gave a ringing endorsement to the poetry pages of Workers Online, writes resident bard David Peetz.


 Telstra Cuts Off Sick Mum

 CFMEU Pulls $3M Bank Job

 Life Imitates Ad

 Equal Pay Unlawful

 AWA Threatens Kids

 Howard’s Porky Exposed

 STOP PRESS: Bank Pinged

 Thongs Flap Into IR War

 Dad Sacked Over Safety Fears

 News Leader in Advertising Stink

 PM’s Spin Hit for Six

 Daffy Ducks Dud Deal

 Canada Shamed

 Combet Stars At Rooty Hill

 Vanstone Backs Ciggie Salaries for Detainees

 Flicking the Super Switch

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Families First
New Senator Stephen Fielding turned a few heads with his Maiden Speech to Parliament.

The Locker Room
The New World Order
Phil Doyle declares himself unavailable for the fifth and deciding test.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, reports from the NSW Government's Safety Summit

On The Bus
A bright orange bus travelling the state has become the focus of the campaign against federal IR changes. Nathan Brown was on board.

 Telstra Trauma
 Telstra’s Calling
 What Poor People?
 The Day
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CFMEU Pulls $3M Bank Job

The CFMEU has stared down another round of anti-building worker legislation to win more than $3 million for employees and small businesses stranded by a Marrickville developer.

Financier Macquarrie Bank coughed up the money after a two-week picket of an apartment development, following the collapse of builder, JLB.

CFMEU state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, confirmed $3 million of the settlement would go to unpaid subcontractors, while another $150,000 had been earmarked for wages and entitlements owed to building workers, clerical workers and management staff.

"They all put their hands up and they were all owed money," Ferguson said.

"I'm not sure if the company went into administration or receivership. It doesn't matter, the point is it didn't pay.

"We will continue this type of action on behalf of workers and family businesses in spite of the threats of the federal government."

The CFMEU has already targeted developers of JLB sites at Wollongong and Dee Why for similar attention.

It made a breakthrough at Dee Why, last week, when money men came across with $10,000 for a dudded building worker.

Similar actions drew the wrath of Terry Cole during his discredited Building Industry Royal Commission on which the government based a range of anti-worker measures.

Last week, the Senate passed the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Bill, which seeks to drastically limit the ability of building workers to defend wages, conditions and entitlements.

The Act makes just about every form of industrial action unlawful and broadens the meaning of industrial action to include anything that deviates from normal work patterns, potentially catching sickies and deliberate lateness.

Restrictions or delays over safety fears will be "unlawful" unless the threat is later judged to have been "imminent".

Individual workers face fines of up to $22,000 and unions can be slugged $110,000 for each breach.

The legislation will be policed by a new Australian Building Industry Commission, likely to be headed up by anti-worker activists Jonathan Hamberger and Nigel Hadgkiss.

Both men, in previous guises, have drawn severe judicial censure, for their actions against the CFMEU.

The Commission will have the power to force building workers to attend secret interrogations sessions where they can be compelled to answer questions and produce documents, and may be ordered not to reveal the details of interrogations to anyone but their lawyers.

Any breach of those provisions is punishable by prison.

The federal government has also announced its intention to introduce special legislation that will "ring fence" contractors from rights and responsibilities conferred by industrial law.

That is a concern to Ian Fullford of the Australian Trades Contractors Association who estimates between 40 and 50 of his members benefited from the Marrickville picket.

He described his organisation's relationship with the CFMEU as "positive".

"They were very reasonable," he said. "They sat down with Macquarrie Bank and ourselves and helped get a settlement.

"I could probably have got an agreement myself but whether I would have been able to get the money, at the end of the day, is another matter.

"To some extent, we have a common interest because, often, when their members don't get paid it is because our members haven't been paid."

Ferguson says federal standover tactics will not intimidate the CFMEU.

It plans pickets of JLB's former sites if financiers do not come across with hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to workers and contractors.

Meanwhile, Workers Online understands that officers from the Building Industry Taskforce have been investigating green bans imposed by the union, including one designed to protect Redfern Oval.


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