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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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New Front on High Court Attack

NSW Unions will open up a second front in its High Court challenge to WorkChoices, arguing the government lacks the constitutional power to dictate the way unions conduct their affairs.

Lawyers for the unions have told Workers Online they will argue that there is no grounds for using a power over corporations to impose rules on the internal workings of state-based unions, such as internal elections.

Unions NSW legal adviser Jeff Shaw said that while the unions were backing the NSW government's challenge of the Corporations power, the secondary argument would dictate the legal status of state branches.

"In the first place, we argue that the corporations power is inadequate to operate the industrial relation system generally," Shaw says.

"It was never the intent - Corporations Power aim was to regulate the core functions of trading corporations, not to obliterate state industrial relations powers, particularly where specific industrial relations powers exist elsewhere in the constitution.

"But alternatively, we argue that even if the Corporations P-ower does allow regulation of a corporation's workforce -, the power would not extend the power to regulate internal affairs of organisations which have industrial relations dealing with that corporation."

"If this is right, that section can not be severed by the broad scheme, because it is integral to broad scheme that the Commonwealth can regulate internal affairs of parties dealing with regulations.

"So even if the corporation power stands, it can not cover internal affairs of unions dealing with a corporation because this takes corporations to a universal coverage of every aspect of a nation's life.

Despite pundits claiming that the High Court challenge was doomed to failure, Shaw remains up beat.

"There is a respectable argument to be put - most constitutional cases are decided by narrow majorities and this will be no different.

"It would be foolish for anyone to predict that outcome of this case at a very early stage."


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