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Issue No. 290 18 November 2005  

The Long March
Half a million Australian workers turn out for the largest industrial protests the nation has ever seen, an old style symbol of resistance linked by new world technology, opposing laws from another galaxy.


Interview: Public Defender
The CPSU's Stephen Jones has confronted the Howard Government's IR agenda at close quarters.

Legal: Craig's Story
An inquest in western NSW is a cautionary tale of the use of AWAs, writes Ian Latham

Unions: Wrong Way, Go Back
The WorkChoice legislation sends Australia down the wrong economic road by smashing the instittutions that have made it strong, argues Greg Combet.

Industrial: WhatChoice?
The Howard Government has shown itself to be the master of illusion, writes Dr Anthony Forsyth

Politics: Queue Jumping
The changes to industrial laws, betray a new vision of Australian society, writes James Gallaway.

History: Iron Heel
Conservative governments using laws to take away basic civil rights. It's nothing new, writes Rowan Cahill

Economics: Waging War
When was the last time you heard an Australian politician talk about incomes policy, asks Matt Thistlethwaite

International: Under Pressure
The push for UN intervention in Burma is intensifying, following a report by Vaclav Havel and Bishop Desmond Tutu into slave labour.

Poetry: Billy Negotiates An AWA
More and more people are meeting Billy, the hero of page 15 of the WorkChoices booklet, including our resident bard, David Peetz

Review: A Pertinent Proposition
Nick Cave's "Australian western" touches on some themes still relevant today, Julianne Taverner writes.


 Aussies Shrug Off Threats

 PM Executes Back Flip

 National Rally Boosts Local Action

 Restaurateurs Do a Runner

 St Hilliers No Angels

 Penalties Frozen on Sundaes

 Slammer Threat for Operators

 Sunday Light on IR Shadows

 Sol Dials Up 12,000 Scalps

 Boss Likes Women 'Work-Hardened'

 Bread Winner on $9 an Hour

 King Goes the Gouge

 Jo Jacks Up

 Currawong Funds for IR Battle

 Howard Joins IR Rogues

 Arnie Terminated

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Men and Women of Australia
What makes a perfect speech? Michael Fullilove has scoured Australian history to find out.

The Locker Room
The Hungry Years
Phil Doyle gets the feeling we’ve been here before

From Little Things
Paul Kelly's song about the battle for land rights misses one important character, writes Graham Ring

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at Public Private Partnerships, and wonders if we should all just drink rum…

 Driven to despair
 What lucky country
 Swimming with Sharks
 Save Our Culture
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Boss Likes Women 'Work-Hardened'

A boss who shut down his factory after a ten-week strike has lashed out at his largely female former workforce for putting on weight and not being “work hardened”.

"You've got to understand, they were all sitting on their arses for ten weeks with nothing to do. They all put on 5kg when they came back to work on these machines they weren't work hardened.," Kemalex Plastics owner Richard Colebatch told The Australian newspaper this week.

Colebatch, who refused to negotiate with workers at his Dandenong factory for six weeks during the strike, told the National Union of Workers "I only answer to two people, my mother and my wife".

The protracted dispute featured bikie gangs intimidating the worker's peaceful assembly, yet Colebatch claimed he was the victim of "union thugs" and "vandalism".

The NUW says they strenuously attempted to avoid a strike but Colebatch was motivated by "ideological" reasons, and was unwilling to negotiate during the strike, which involved women who were, in some cases, being paid less than the award minimum.

Colebatch had offered workers a pay rise conditional on them giving up meal breaks.

Thow says Colebatch has been caught out telling porkies with his claims that unions had OK'd the use of individual contractors.

"The use of contractors was never negotiated or approved by the union. When they arrived on site it came as a shock," says Thow. "He said words to the effect that people work better when they're under pressure and that independent contractors don't have sick leave."

Thow is appalled at Colebatch's attitude, especially after the factory owner had previously praised the union during a period of administration when unions co-operated to help secure the future of the Dandenong business. The union also worked with Colebatch at the resolution of the ten week strike to 'clear the air' following the dispute.

"For someone who claims to want flexibility he had a remarkably bureaucratic approach during negotiations," says Thow. "Every word had to ticked off by his barrister, solicitor, company board and a 'mythical' advisory board.

"So we were dealing with three or four tiers of decision making.

"In the current situation you can only speculate as to who his 'advisory board' is."

Colebatch Adelaide business treats all employees as independent contractors.


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