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Issue No. 281 16 September 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Marked Territory
If the mountain of pre-publicity is indicative of its content, the Latham Diaries will read a little bit like a sausage cookbook; full of grisley details about the makings of something we would rather take on face value.

F E A T U R E S

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 wonít 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 Timorís 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.

N E W S

 Flexibility - Bush Rates Slashed

 Seamen Marooned on Tassie

 Families Win Refuge in Tamworth

 Catholics Nail Andrews' Heresy

 IR Changes a Beach

 Drama Queen Applies Gloss

 Peace a Security Threat

 OEA Flicks Fraud Case

 Auto Workers Drive Union Win

 Bush Adds Insult to Injuries

 Job Vandals Cash In

 Lib Heads Witch Hunt

 Sydney Water Damned

 Super Blue Warms Up

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

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.

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

Postcard
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.

L E T T E R S
 Dinosaurs Bite Back
 Killer Culture
 Who Cares?
 Do the Bus Stop
 A Touch of Honesty
 Boss Made Me Sick
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

OEA Flicks Fraud Case


Building workers have embarrassed the Office of the Employment Advocate into passing on evidence it registered fraudulent AWAs.

The OEA sat on its hands for a year and a half, after being alerted by 40-year building industry veteran, Allan Kuret, that he had never seen, let alone signed, an individual non-union agreement it had registered in his name.

The federal government and the agency it established to monitor secret employment contracts, were embarrassed when the facts came to light in a Perth courtroom, last July.

Kuret told the Federal Court, he had contacted the OEA after being asked to sign a pre-dated AWA at Burrup Fertilisers.

He refused, he testified, and, instead, wrote to the OEA asking to sight the document it had rubber-stamped in his name. He said he viewed the AWA for the first time on April 14, 2004.

"The employee's signature that appears on the letter of offer and the AWA is not my signature," Kuret said. "I know this because I did not sign a letter of offer or an AWA prior to, during, or after commencing employment with Killarnee.

"None of the handwriting on the letter of offer or the AWA is my own."

Last August, Kuret's union, the CFMEU, formally asked the OEA to investigate the allegation.

Nearly a year later, frustrated CFMEU branch secretary Kevin Reynolds, again wrote to the Office.

In its first statement, since being alerted by Kuret, the OEA announced last week, it would flick the allegation on to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations' Fraud Investigation Unit.

Reynolds said the sluggish response was typical of the "anti-worker" organisation.

He said the OEA and successor bodies, like the Building Industry Taskforce, moved rapidly if there was "a whiff of a case" against building workers.

Last week, he revealed, the Taskforce flew officers to a site, three hours out of Rockhampton, to charge a crane driver it alleged had been involved in an unlawful stoppage in Perth.

In that case, the Taskforce charged two men who had given courtroom evidence on behalf of the CFMEU from a total workforce of nearly 100, involved in the alleged breach.

"They can't wait to prosecute our people for defending their wages and conditions but sit on their hands in a case where, in our view, there is clear evidence of fraud," Reynolds said.

"It confirms what we have said all along. The OEA is biased, simple as that."

During the discredited Building Industry Royal Commission, a number of employer witnesses referred to the OEA as the Office of the Employers' Advocate.

OEA practises of rubber-stamping unsigned AWAs, and registering others outside the 21 days allowed by law, were also outed in the District Court, last year.

Justice French described as "surprising" some of the OEA's behaviour in relation to AWAs.


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