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Issue No. 299 17 March 2006  

For Queen and Country
There’s nothing like a Commonwealth Games – and one on home turf to boot – to get one thinking about Australia’s relationship with Britain and the monarch who still reigns over us.


Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Workers Online speaks to the ACTU's Union Organiser of the Year, Greg Harvey from the RTBU, who has been using cutting edge ways to communicate with a blue-collar workforce spread across five states.

Industrial: How Low Is Low
Neale Towart looks at the much hyped link between minimum wages and employment

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Govwernment has begun rolling out workshops to inform employers on how to use WorkChoices. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Bad Medicine
Nathan Brown reports on how Australia Post’s dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameron’s demise may be premature

Economics: Long Division
Kenneth Davidson looks at a successful political strategy

International: Union Proud
A University of California librarian calls for union labels to increase worker visibility

Politics: Howard’s Sick Joke
Phil Doyle looks at an attack on one of the great achievements of the union movement

Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
That mob in parliament house seems to be hopelessly out of touch with Indigenous Australia. So much so, that Graham Ring wonders if the House on the Hill is becoming a ‘cultural museum’.

Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.

Culture: News Front
If the owners are selling off papers, perhaps the unions should buy them says Mark Dobbie.


 Fleas Bite Back

 Visa Boss Restrained

 Howard's Holiday Secrets

 Picket Buster Carpeted

 No Ticket No Start For Asbestos

 On The Road Again

 WorkChoices Goes Mental

 United Cuts Hit Turbulence

 Bad News for Bullies

 Vegie Contracts Poisonous

 Mac Attack

 Work Choices Canned

 Work Pressure Kills: Judge

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Henderson’s unique take on history

Westie Wing
Will Westie's Wings be clipped, or will the Hills Angels repent and deliver?

The Locker Room
The Heart Of The Matter
Phil Doyle rolls up the red carpet and celebrates the death of an old foe

 Revelations of St John
 Save Frost
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Visa Boss Restrained

A Temporary Personal Protection Order has been slapped on a boss using cut-price guest worker visas after a Canberra Magistrate's Court heard he issued death threats.

“He said he was going to smash my 'maggot head' and kill me,” said worried union organiser David Bibo.

"He's demonstrated he's a volatile individual in the past."

The alleged threats followed reports that a hospitality worker had been kidnapped after complaining to the Department of Immigration about guest workers being abused by Canberra employers.

Bibo backed claims by ACT Senator Kate Lundy that Margarito "Gary" Sorrosa had complained to the Immigration Department about the abuse, contradicting the federal department's assertion that it had no knowledge of such incidents.

Despite Immigration Department claims that Sorrosa never spoke to it, a witness who has been in the Canberra hospitality industry for years, supports Sarrosa's version, even naming the Immigration official he spoke to.

Sorrosa alleges, three days after making his complaint to Immigration in October last year, five men arrived at his house, forced him into a car and drove him to Sydney International Airport.

On the way, they were stopped by NSW police near Mittagong because the driver was speeding. Sorrosa told the police he had been abducted and one of the officers reportedly drew his gun before handcuffing one of the men.

ACT Labor Senator Kate Lundy understands the matter was referred to Australian Federal Police and has asked for a briefing from AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow called for an immediate inquiry into the skilled migrant visa program.

Department of Immigration figures released this week show 1000 people a week arriving in Western Australia alone on temporary working visas, which unions claim is creating a slave trade that will lower wages and standards.

An Immigration Department spokesman rejected the suggestion, saying the program was professionally and competently run.

Immigration expert Bob Kinnaird says some of the skilled migrants, most of whom were tradesmen, accepted very low pay in the hope of being sponsored by their employer for permanent residency when their four-year visa expired.

He also warned that authorities, who are desperate to help fill the skills shortage, sometimes issued the subclass visas, known as 457 visas, to poorly qualified tradesmen.


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