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Issue No. 301 31 March 2006  

Deep Impact
No the sky didnít fall in, but there were an awful lot of acorns falling on Australian workers this week as John Howardís dream of a workplace without rights became a reality.


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 Postís dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameronís 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: Howardís 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 Ďcultural museumí.

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.


 Doctors Orders - Take a Walke

 Teens Changing the Landscape

 Voters Desert Howard

 Electrical Boss Zaps Safety

 Buggers in Office

 Pub With No Beer

 Telstra's Townsville Shocker

 ABCC: Safety a Gas

 Rough Night Pays Off

 Game, Set, Match Building Workers

 Feds AWA Offers No Choice


The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Hendersonís 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

 Sing-a-Long Unions
 The Earl Speaks
 Market's Blind
 Hi Guys!
 Let Us Rejoice
 Tom's Bit
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ABCC: Safety a Gas

John Howard's building industry police force is sniffing around workers exposed to Legionella and gas leaks at a Victorian construction site.

ABCC efforts to interfere in a health and safety dispute were brushed by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, last week.

Witnesses say employees were throwing up and calling for first aid following a gas leak at the Shedden Uhde job in Corio.

The company used Howard's laws to keep union officials, concerned about member safety, off the site.

After the gas leak, 260 people walked out to meet union reps.

Workers returned to work when immediate safety concerns were addressed, but not before the matter was referred to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Under Workchoices laws the AIRC had no choice but to recommended a return to work in one of the first examples of the industrial umpire being stripped of discretionary powers to refer the dispute to conciliation.

Shedden Uhde said Legionella and gas leaks posed no threat to employees.

Emma Walters, for the CFMEU, told the Commission the stoppage was not "industrial action" but "a cessation of work" in accordance with Victoria's Occupational Health and Safety Act. She confirmed union officials had been denied entry to the site in breach of the State Act.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission, represented by law firm Freehills, unsuccessfully sought to intervene in what the company claimed was "industrial action".

"This is a genuine occupational health and safety issue," says Electrical Trades Union spokesperson Phil Cleary. "Workers are frustrated by the intention of the company to use Workchoices."

The case is listed for hearing again this Thursday.


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