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Issue No. 304 28 April 2006  

Canaries in the Coalmine
It was one of the defining symbols of the industrial era and the tenuous nature of working life – the bird in the cage whose expiration was a miner’s early warning that things were not OK.


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.


 Hit Run Mum Bats For Son

 Revealed: Bosses Told To Blame Howard

 Amber Light for Pay Cuts

 Andrews Backs Armed Hold Ups

 New Front on High Court Attack

 Homer Takes Rights to India

 Tunnel Vision a “Disgrace”

 Mining Vigil at Day of Mourning

 Dad's Death Revisited

 Canberra Confidential, Andrews on the Run

 Rock Solid Tony For Sale

 SA Boss Not Trusted With Kids

 Army Declares War On Workers

 Unions Take On Space Invaders

 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.

 Win in the Post
 Belly Battles
 Answer is Easy
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Andrews Backs Armed Hold Ups

Kevin Andrews has come out swinging against laws that have seen a 60 per cent reduction in armed hold ups in four years.

In comments to the Australian newspaper, Andrews described NSW's occupational health and safety laws, which allow unions to run prosecutions against employers, as “outrageous”.

"In every other jurisdiction, only the relevant workers compensation authorities can prosecute for alleged breaches of occupational health and safety laws," the Workplace Relations Minister said.

But Financial Sector Union Secretary Geoff Derrick said the laws allowed the union to successfully prosecute ANZ and Westpac banks for inadequate security when WorkCover had not.

He said although WorkCover had the information it did not run the prosecution.

"It's not as if we took their place, they vacated the field," Derrick said.

"WorkCover had the opportunity to do it, they didn't. We did, we were proven correct."

Derrick said since the FSU's first prosecutions in 2002, the number of armed hold-ups in banks had fallen from 100 per year, to about 40.

Andrews also took aim at NSW's use of moiety - which allows the prosecutor to receive up to 50 per cent of a fine after a successful prosecution.

Andrews said this "creates a perverse incentive for unions to abuse such processes and to prosecute employers for personal gain".

Derrick said by Andrews' logic union members would be paying for the sins of the bosses.

"Union members have to subsidise every case we run, although it is the employer who has broken the law," Derrick said.

The union's first prosecutions against ANZ saw the union receive moiety of $15,000 - separate from work costs.

Derrick said the money was split three ways between the non-court cost elements of running the prosecution, improving OHS consultation and to members affected by the boss's breaches.

According NSW WorkCover figures, the number of workplace deaths and injuries in the state are at their lowest level since 1988.


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