||Issue No. 314||07 July 2006|
The Power of Ones
Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
Unions: Staying Mum
Economics: Precious Metals
Industrial: The Cold 100
History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
Legal: Free Agents
Politics: Under The Influence
International: How Swede It Was
Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
The Locker Room
Jihad Johnny Targets Perth
The experienced rigger was one of 107 individuals targeted for fines of up to $28,000 as the Howard Government unleashed the biggest political witch hunt in Australian history.
"It's time to stand up or shut up," the father and husband said in an exclusive interview with Workers Online.
"I am hoping Aussies will step up and tell this government, enough is enough. These attacks on our democratic rights have got to stop."
Last Thursday night, agents for the Australian Building and Construction Industry Commission raided homes across Perth.
They delivered dozens of writs to building workers who had struck in response to Leightons' sacking of their job delegate Peter Ballard.
Workers Online's contact said he hadn't received a writ "because the bastards don't know where I live" but that his name appeared on a list of over 100 colleagues that had been delivered to the site.
Writs, seen by Workers Online, were all signed by controversial former federal policeman, Nigel Hadgkiss, who aggressively targeted union members as head of the now-defunct Building Industry Taskforce.
Commission boss, John Lloyd, told Perth media his organisation intended charging another 22 former Perth-Mandura project employees.
That would see the federal government chasing more than $3.8 million in fines from Perth workers.
Our contact said many of his workmates were in a state of shock.
"You hear about these attacks overseas but nobody expected them in Australia in 2006," he said.
"I'm typical, I don't know what to do. There's no way I could pay a $28,000 fine. They are talking about seizing assets. What assets?
"My wife and I are trying to buy our first home, it's been a hard road but we're nearly there. Now it looks like, if we get it we will have to sell it to pay John Howard.
"Mate, I don't know if I am coming or going. I feel like just getting on the piss and forgetting the whole thing.
"What saves me is my wife. She's the strong one. She will be mighty disappointed if we lose this house but she is more determined to fight than I am."
The man spoke from the Perth-Mandura rail project on condition of anonymity.
He said Leightons had followed the raids by "culling" employees and it would be "next to impossible" for anyone publicly associated with the project to find alternative employment in WA.
The Leightons-Kumaigi joint venture has been plagued with problems since it began. Shortly before the pivotal sacking of the CFMEU delegate a union safety inspection identified more than 80 shortcomings.
A WA government department promised an investigation but nothing has been heard since.
Howard in Denial
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Howard has denied any link with charges laid by an agency he established, using laws his government rammed through federal parliament to chase fines he wrote into law.
"This action has been taken by an independent body, the Government didn't decide to prosecute these people, the Government didn't take the decision and the Government has no power to intervene," Mr Howard told the Nine Network.
The establishment of the Building Industry Commission to police the Building Improvement Bill came after years of Coalition rhetoric against construction workers and their union.
In Perth, last week, Leightons suggested the prosecutions would be unhelpful in completing the project.
"Over the last few months, we have been getting good productivity and there was a good feeling on the job," company spoksman, Ashley Mason, told the Australian newspaper.
"Put yourself in these guys' positions and the idea of being dragged into the Federal Court and fined."
But Lloyd said the prosecutions would serve as a lesson to other workers.
CFMEU national secretary, John Sutton, said they were a product of the Howard Government's "mad class hatred".
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