||Issue No. 293||20 December 2005|
Waves of Destruction
Interview: Back to the Future
Unions: A Real Page Turner
Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
International: Around The World In 365 Days
Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
Politics: The Year That Was
Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
The Locker Room
Free to Rat
Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
Proportion, Not Distortion
Speaker Won't Talk
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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