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Issue No. 307 19 May 2006  

Open for Business?
While our focus in recent months has rightly been on the federal political arena, the first skirmish in the battle for rights for NSW workers will occur at the state election, due in just nine months.


Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Reverend Jim Wallis is leading a crusade to take the moral debate into the public arena.

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Government has begun a series of workshops to sell its WorkChoice vsision. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Lockout!
Jim Comerford’s eyewitness account of the 15-month Lockout of 10,000 New South Wales miners in1929-1930 records the inside story of Australia’s most bloody and bitter industrial conflict

Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Professor Ron McCallum argues the WorkChoices laws are built on a fundamental fiction.

Politics: Labor Pains
Labor has dealt itself out of the crucial workplace relations debate by failing to articulate a credible policy alternative to Howard’s new WorkChoices legislation, argues Mark Heearn and Grant Michelson

Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Evan Jones pays tribute to John Kenneth Galbraith, a big man who never stopped arguing that economics should serve the public good, not create public squalor.

Corporate: House of Horrors
Anthony Keenan takes a tour of Sydney’s notorious, Asbestos House, courtesy of Gideon Haig.

History: Clash Of Cultures
Neale Towart with a new take on Mayday through the words of a punk icon

International: Childs Play
An ILO report into Child Labour shows some progress is being made to curb this gobal scurge .

Culture: Folk You Mate!
Phil Doyle dodges Morris Dancers to find signs of Working Life at the National Folk Festival in Canberra over the Easter Weekend.

Review: Last Holeproof Hero
Finally, a superhero who has worked out how to wear his underpants. Nathan Brown ogles V for Vendetta


 Laughing All The Way To MacBank

 Perth Apartments Go Like a Bomb

 AWAs - Just Say No!

 Andrews Puts Contracts on Families

 Safety Laws Mine New Depths

 Builder Threatens Homes

 Beazley to Halt Maxi-Scam

 Umpire Stumps Minister

 Worker Dumped Over Casual Affair

 Councils Trash Workers

 Union Journo Escapes Fiji

 Canucks Crash Howard’s Party


The Soapbox
Albo's Meltdown
Labor's environment spokesman Antony Albanese argues that Chrernobyl is one reason why the ALP should stand firm on nuclear.

The Locker Room
A Sort Of Homecoming
Phil Doyle plays to the whistle.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West reports from Macquarie Street on some strange collective acction.

 Psychometric Testing for Bullies
 Pleased with Beazley
 What is Working Class
 National Day of Protest
 Tax Cuts
 Independent Contractors
 Drought Proofing
 Higher Profile for Labor
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Safety Laws Mine New Depths

Moves to water down NSW workplace safety laws would make it harder to prosecute managers in disasters like the Beaconsfield collapse, a senior lawyer has warned.

Unions are opposing the changes to the Occupational and Health and Safety Act that would end the regime of strict liability and limit the targets of safety prosecutions.

"Some of the amendments in their present form constitute significant erosions and watering down of existing worker protections in the OHS Act," the opinion by barrister Brendan Hocking warns.

The legal advice on the changes prepared for Unions NSW argues that the changes would end the reverse onus of proof on employers that has existed for the past 23 years.

This means that when an accident currently occurs, the presumption is that employer is breaching the law.

Under the changes, a prosecution would need to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the employers did not do everything to make the workplace safe "so far as reasonably practicable".

Docking argues this shift will make it hard to secure prosecutions, with factors to be considered including knowledge of the accused and the4 presence of 'slippery'; legal terms such as 'likelihood'.

The second area of concern is a change in definition of people who can be prosecuted, with fears that it will break of chain of responsibility, particularly in the coal industry. Unions believe the wording of this section is in response to the wide scope of prosecutions flowing from the Gretley disaster.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says on examination the legislation has serious deficiencies and has called on the government to take it back to the drawing board.

Debnam - I Can be Meaner!

Meanwhile, NSW Opposition leader Peter Debnam has attempted to outdo the government on attacking work safety by banning unions from making safety prosecutions and freezing all such cases currently before court.

The Coalition said it would be unjust to continue prosecuting employers, which assume an absolute duty of care, when in future businesses will only need to do what is "reasonably practicable" to provide a safe workplace.

Under the changes, the following cases would be put on hold:

 Five defendants due to face court in October following the death of a 16 year old labourer at Eastern Creek. Joel Exner was on his third day as an apprentice roofer when he fell 12 metres to his death.

 A 19 year old fractured his jaw and both arms, suffered punctured lungs, required a tracheotomy and was on life support for four days when he fell 15 metres from the edge of a building at Rhodes. One of the defendants is also being prosecuted in the Exner case.

 Prosecutions in relation to the death of Gregory Rees, who was killed during the demolition of 'Boiler No.6' at the former BHP site in Newcastle.

 An inexperienced 15 year old worker at North Ryde who was dragged into a conveyor and experienced a partial severing of the right arm at the shoulder.

 A prosecution in relation to two furniture removalists who fell from a balcony at Rozelle and were impaled on a metal spiked garden fence. They suffered spinal injuries, lower leg, nerve, tendon and ligament injuries, fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.


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