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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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SA Boss Not Trusted With Kids

A company that sacked two apprentices should face the maximum fines under state laws be banned from employing apprentices in the future, say South Australian Unions.

Third year apprentice electricians Robert Elkson and Greg Garrard were sacked without notice by Kadina electrical and plumbing firm Mildwaters Trade Centre on Monday March 27, the day the federal government's new work laws took effect.

SA Unions secretary Janet Giles also wants the apprentices to be able to complete their qualifications through another employer, and to be fully paid out their wages and other entitlements.

"This company has acted illegally. Mildwaters must know it is illegal to sack apprentices, as it was pinged for illegally sacking an apprentice some years ago, but obviously thought it could get away with it under the new federal laws" Ms Giles says.

"Thankfully, we have state laws which, unlike the draconian new federal legislation, offer protection to apprentices and trainees."

"We will urge the Grievance Dispute Mediation Committee to apply the full force of the state laws to this company, to send a strong message to employers that they cannot illegally sack apprentices and get away with it."

"Companies must realise that although the federal laws give enormous scope to exploit many workers, it remains illegal to sack apprentices and trainees."

"Furthermore, it is not good enough to claim ignorance or try to blame an illegal action on external advice. Any employer who sacks an apprentice is responsible for that action, regardless of the basis on which it made that decision."

"In the case of these two apprentices, the company is trying to suggest it received advice from Business SA stating it could sack its workers. However SA Unions has received a copy of the advice provided by Business SA which shows that was not that case. The fact remains that it is the company's responsibility to act legally."


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