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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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Canberra Confidential, Andrews on the Run

Embattled Coalition MPs have been armed with a “confidential document” to help counter public disquiet over workplace rorts.

WorkChoices Minister, Kevin Andrews, furnished worried colleagues with the five-page "party line" in a week that saw another round of horror headlines about workplace deaths, wage cuts and unjustified dismissals.

Andrews is apparently concerned that Australians are learning about these incidents through the media.

In an interview with Melbourne's Herald Sun, he suggested they should be reported to his Office of Workplace Services, instead.

Unions NSW official, Alison Peters, has ridiculed Andrews' defence.

She described it as a "smokescreen" to try to deflect attention from legislation that has been revealed as a rorters-charter.

"Kevin Andrews has a big problem and that problem is the truth," she said.

"This government argued that all employers weren't bad and we agreed with that.

"Our problem is that some employers are bad, they do want to slash earnings, do away with family friendly entitlements, sack people unjustly and operate unsafely.

"His government has given those employers the green light.

"We are not judging the Office of Workplace Services, at all. What we, and other Australians, are judging is the unbalanced legislation it is required to work under.

"For example, it doesn't have the power to order reinstatement when workers are unfairly sacked, as the Industrial Relations Commission, used to be able to do.

"It is nonsense to pretend otherwise, especially when that pretence comes from the person who made the changes. "

Peters said the recent spate of workplace deaths came against a background of a sustained Andrews campaign to undermine state occupational health and safety authorities, and threats to deny moieties to unions that mounted successful prosecutions.

Peters said, to her knowledge, the Office of Workplace Services had no mandate to enforce health and safety laws.


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