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Issue No. 293 20 December 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Waves of Destruction
2005 was the year book-ended by two waves of destruction - the first causing untold suffering across the Indian Ocean; the second reawakening our darker angels on beaches closer to home.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Back to the Future
James Gallaway collars Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, on threats, challenges and opportunities.

Unions: A Real Page Turner
Jim Marr glances through Workers Online’s 2005 news stories and finds there is more one way to skin a Rat

Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
Rachael Osman-Chin profiles a white collar union that is having some almighty blues.

International: Around The World In 365 Days
It was a year of online activism, as LabourStart's Eric Lee reports

Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Jim Marr tackles a champion.

Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
The Your Rights At Work campaign has been a big part of this year and, as Phil Doyle reports, it is making a difference.

Politics: The Year That Was
Frank Stillwell looks at year that saw the politics of fear; and finds many reasons to be very afraid.

Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Evan Jones asks if the Neo Liberals are taking us back to the future

Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Nathan Brown ignores Oasis and decides to look back in anger after all

Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Nathan Brown digs through his voluminous dirt files and comes up with the top 10 grubs of the year.

Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
James Gallaway on the Way, the Truth and life according to Brian.

N E W S

 Melbourne Burns AWAs

 Corporates Defend Costello

 Speaker Won't Talk

 Bank Pays on Dodgy Contracts

 Plan to Save Jobs

 Harper's Bizarre Excuse for Failure

 It's Not Fair: Business

 Workers Walk As Warnings Wiped

 Teenager Hit With Shrapnel

 Pay Day “Unlawful”

 Tassie Rail Win

 Professionals Fear for Their Kids

 Boss Pings Rorters Charter

 New Ways to Take a Share

 An Hour of Need

 Boeing Steals Christmas

 Trouble at the Mill

 Activists What's On

C O L U M N S

Predictions
The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2006.

The Soapbox
The Things People Say
It was a year of quotable quotes, reports Phil Doyle.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West checks the rear vision mirror on 2005, and plants his foot down

The Locker Room
The 2005 Workers Online Sports Awards
After years of being overlooked by selectors at club, representative and national levels, Phil Doyle and Jim Marr, agreed to hand out our 2005 sports gongs.

Postcard
Postcard from East Timor
In East Timor entertainment also spreads an important message into the community

L E T T E R S
 Pension Pinching
 Free to Rat
 Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
 Proportion, Not Distortion
 Corp That!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Speaker Won't Talk


The Speaker of the Australian Parliament didn't understand coercive workplace powers when he helped ram them into law.

The extraordinary admission came from David Hawker, federal member for Wannon, when he was confronted by constituents, including a Catholic Nun, about Building Industry Commission standover tactics in rural Victoria.

Hawker was non-plussed by suggestions agents of the state able to demand personal notes and records, from his constituents, on pain of gaol.

Since he discovered they could, more than a month ago, he has ducked invitations to explain himself to 350 workers at Iluka Iron Sands operations in Hamilton and Balmoral.

Former federal policemen, with the Building and Construction Commission, swooped on the towns, near the South Australian border, with demands for people to produce personal diaries, notes and records.

Using retrospective provisions introduced by Hawker's Government they demanded all "relevant" documents to disputes that occurred before draconian building industry laws were even enacted.

Hamilton workers have been ordered to "produce" everything in their possession that dates from September 1 to October 10.

Failure to produce anything demanded by the Commission, headed by anti-worker activists John Lloyd and Nigel Hadgkiss, renders people liable to six months in prison.

The scope of the anti-building worker legislation, which denies people the right to silence and forces them to attend secret interrogation sessions, catches employees in the iron sands industry.

Notices have been served on about 20 people, members of the AMWU, CFMEU, FEDFA, the AWU and the Plumbers Union.

They relate to a series of disputes AMWU organiser, Mark Solly, suspects were engineered by Iluka's owner, WA mining company Roche JR.

"There have been a number of issues, including health and safety concerns. The company has been quite provocative," he said.

Initially, Commission officers gave people two or three days to produce the paperwork. However, when the law was pointed out they extended that time to 14 days.

"All the alleged events occurred before the laws were even passed but the Commission is flexing its muscles, seeing how far it can push people around," Solly said.

"They've singled out union officials, shop stewards and health and safety representatives. It's about intimidating the activists.

"We're attempting to work our way through it but, to be honest, we are in uncharted waters. Australians aren't used to dealing with threats and standover tactics in their workplaces."

Solly said when Hawker met the community group, including himself, a representative of the Trades and Labor Council, the nun, and three retired men and women he appeared "dumbfounded" by what was happening .

But, he checked the claims and admitted they were all possible under building industry legislation, passed while he was presiding over the legislature.

But the Speaker refuses to speak to the people involved. Since being invited to attend site meetings at Hamilton and Balmoral, on November 23, Hawker has gone to ground.


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