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Issue No. 303 21 April 2006  

Brand Spanking
It took the Easter Bunny, a couple of diplomatic crises and a bit of classic Howard wedge politics to shift industrial relations off the front pages, but if you think the story is over, forget it.


Interview: Head On
John Buchanan has been warning that WorkChoices would be a car crash. Now he surveys the damage.

Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
CFMEU Mining national secretary Tony Maher lets fly at the new industrial laws.

Industrial: Vital Signs
In his new book, Craig Emerson argues that destroying unionism will not be in Australia's long term interests.

Economics: Taxing Times
Frank Stilwell argues that there are progressive alternatives to the slash and burn approach to tax reform.

Environment: It Ain’t Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourne’s Hours
Neale Towart reluctantly pays homage to Victoria's celebration of the eight hour day.

Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
John Howard is deciding more and more foreign workers should come into this country - without the rights of citizenship, writes John Sutton,

Review: Pollie Fiction
For someone barely 25 years Sarah Doyle has an enviable track record in theatre behind her.

Poetry: The Cabal
Poetry returns to Workers Online with this rollicking ode to employer power.


 Costello Plans Super Swindle

 Control Freak Turns Hand to AWAs

 ‘Clean Start’ Sweeps Into Action

 Fleas Leave Andrews Scratching

 The $130 Question: What is He On?

 Howard Stings Liberal Mum

 Apprentices Assume Missionary Position

 $80,000 for Friendly Act

 David Phoenix Rises Again

 Rights At Work Worth Playing For

 Qantas Sackings Grounded

 Eight Hours Play

 TWU Boss Gaoled

 Activist's What's On!


Democracy in Action
Former NSW Premier Neville Wran's speech to commemorate 150 years of responsible government.

The Westie Wing
There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Soapbox
From Chaver to Cobber
John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

Postcard from New Orleans
Mark Brenner surveys the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina on the regions workers.

The Locker Room
My Country Right Or In Lane Five
Phil Doyle observes the golden shower at the recent Commonwealth Games, and asks what it means for the last great unpredictable drama.

Vale Bill Hartley
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill Hartley never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets, writes Bob Scates.

 Say No To Optus
 Lying Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them II
 What Tax Cuts?
 Belly Says It’s Time
 A Word Of Warning Stop
 Mexican Revolution
 Well That Clears That Up Then
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Fleas Leave Andrews Scratching

Embarrassed Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, has scratched the prosecutions of 72 Outback workers who objected to living with fleas, rats and raw sewage - but doesn't appear to know why.

Under media pressure, spearheaded by union revelations, Andrews wilted, last week, but only succeeded in muddying the waters by citing irrelevant workplace laws.

The Minister told the ABC that investigators were no longer prosecuting breaches of Section 127 of the Workplace Relations Act so they could concentrate on enforcing his new regime.

"It was my melancholy duty to point out that these prosecutions were never taken under section 127," AMWU Queensland secretary, Andrew Dettmer, said.

"They were high-profile prosecutions of working people who objected to living for eight weeks in shit. And they had the endorsement of the Minister's office."

"The truth is this government didn't need any more bad publicity for its treatment of workers.

"John Howard didn't want another round of horror headlines , so he told Kevin Andrews to shut down his prosecutions, for a while.

"There is no doubt that, under his laws, Australians can be prosecuted and fined for objecting to uninhabitable living conditions."

Only last month, Andrews' office was vigorously promoting the court actions.

A spokesman for the Minister backed the Moranbah prosecutions and promised similar actions "would be pursued across the country".

Andrews' Department hired expensive Melbourne lawyers to track down and prosecute 72 people who had objected to "fleapit" conditions in their central Queensland camp.

It sought fines of up to $20,000 against each individual and a $100,000 fine against the AMWU.

Last month, it won a standover in the federal court, so it could track down everyone who had been involved in a three-day stoppage that won improved living conditions.

Unions went on the offensive accusing the government of declaring "war" on workers.

Dettmer told the media the prosecutions were "vindictive".

"John Howard is telling Australian workers that they must accept vermin-infested accommodation or they will be pursued and dragged before the courts," he said.


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