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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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Tunnel Vision a “Disgrace”

Liberal “disgrace” Anthony Roberts has ducked tunnel workers demanding an apology for his public attack on their family time.

The State MP for Lane Cove was nowhere to be seen when a delegation of tunnelers, and a women from project management, arrived at his Gladesville electorate office to seek an explanation for his behaviour, last week.

Roberts told Sydney's Daily Telegraph it was "disgraceful" the tunnel project had been "left abandoned for four days straight" over the Anzac Weekend, then disappeared.

"When our people turned up at his office, on a work day, he was nowhere to be seen," CFMEU secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said.

"He was unavailable and no one could tell us if he was on a long weekend, sick leave or just bludging.

"Tunnel workers are still waiting for an apology."

Lane Cove construction worker, Mick Fisher, said he wanted nothing less than a public apology.

He said tunnel workers started at 7am daily, and did 10 hour shifts, six days a week.

"When we get one long weekend off to spend some time with our families we are attacked by a Liberal MP who is completely out of touch with community values," Fisher said.

Project office worker, Naciye Bottos, who is six months pregnant, said she was offended by Roberts' attack.

"The Anzac Weekend was also the Orthodox Church's Easter and I spent it with my husband's family. I don't think that is disgraceful, at all," Bottos said.

"I thought this country believed in the family."

Ferguson said building companies had requested that rostered days off be taken en masse, generally alongside public holidays, because employees taking different days off would cause delays.

He said Roberts' comments had been driven by a "Tory mindset" that regarded time off work as a disgrace.

"The real agenda of Roberts and his mates is to lower wage rates and conditions, including family-friendly entitlements," Ferguson said.

"He is the disgrace, not workers who bust their backs, six days a week, in one of the most dangerous industries in the country."


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