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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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David Phoenix Rises Again

A three-year campaign to make “phoenix” bosses pay their debts is back before the courts.

On behalf of 10 members, dudded $88,000, the AMWU is appealing a NSW Industrial Relations Commission decision that prevented it joining new entity, Digital Graphics Proprietary Ltd, to unfair contracts actions against principals of its predecessor, David Graphics.

The case blew in November, 2003, when David Graphics went into voluntary administration, leaving employees short more than $100,000 in super entitlements, salary sacrificing and health fund contributions.

The AMWU alleged the company, headed by Alan Thomas David, sat on workers' money for 18 months before going into administration.

It claims David is behind the new company which that over most of the old operation's assets and work.

Digital Graphics' registered owners, the AMWU says, are Alan David's daughter and longtime partner.

Industrial lawyer, Stephen Penning, says the case before the NSW IRC full bench, is significant in the battle to stop directors going belly-up then returning to business in a new guise.

He says it falls outside the proscriptions of WorkChoices because it seeks remedies from an entity that never employed the workers, and is brought by a union, rather than individual employees.

"John Howard's new laws extinguish the operation of state law as it affects employees of a corporation," Penning explains.

"But this claim is against the directors, who are not corporations, and another company which was not the employer.

"It is an important test case."

The union is seeking unfair contracts judgements against David and fellow director, John Coates, and wants Digital Graphics joined to the case.

AMWU state secretary, Paul Bastian, said it put "phoenix" operators on notice that they would be pursued.

"If ASIC is incapable or unwilling to pursue people who don't meet their obligations to the families of workers, the AMWU will," he promised.

"Phoenixing" - the art of burning debts and returning to business under a new guise, has cost Australian workers millions of dollars in recent years.


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