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Issue No. 315 14 July 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Give Truth A Chance
Civic values - aah another boring conservative rant. Well, perhaps, but here goes.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
When the mobs took over the streets of Dili it was the people of East Timor that bore the brunt. Elisabeth Lino de Araujo from Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA was there to witness what happened.

Unions: Staying Mum
Penrith mums, Linda Everingham and Jo Jacobson, are at the heart of a grassroots campaign to boot Jackie Kelly, out of federal parliament. Jim Marr caught up with one half of the sister act.

Economics: Precious Metals
There's a lot of spin around AWAs in the mining industry, but Tony Maher argues all that glitters is not gold.

Industrial: The Cold 100
The Iemma Government has come up with 100 reasons why WorkChoices is a dud, with 100 examples of ripped off workers

History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
This month's Blacktown Rally was not the first time workers had stood up for their rights in the region, writes Andrew Moore.

Legal: Free Agents
Is an independent contractor a small businessperson or a worker? The answer depends upon whether the contractor is genuinely ‘independent’ or not, writes Even Jones.

Politics: Under The Influence
Bob Gould thinks Sonny Bill Williams is a hunk; he reveals all in a left wing view of The Bulletin’s 100 most influential Australians, questioning the relevance of some, and adding a few of his own.

International: How Swede It Was
Geoff Dow pays tribute to the passing of Rudolf Meidner, one of the architects of the Swedish model of capitalism.

Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
These punk rockers are out to KO WorkChoices. Nathan Brown joins the fray.

N E W S

 Howard's $30m Rip Off

 Jetstar Sells Job Interviews

 Jail or Jobs - Seamen Choose

 Vanstone Mum on Rorts

 WorkChoices Whacks Chalkies

 Telstra MIA in Bush

 WA Safety Rep On Mission

 Sallies Join Sack-A-Thon

 CFMEU Dips Out on Fullback

 Pollies Brush Sick, Kids

 Pollie Cries Like a Croc

 Training Minister Gives Himself an A

 25 Years On the Grass

 Activist's What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Work Choice: US Military Style
John Howard has learnt a few lessons on workers rights from his Texan buddy, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics
Westie Wing
As Pru Goward slams into the glass ceiling of the NSW Liberal Party, Ian West considers how women are faring under the Howard-Costello Government.

The Locker Room
A World Away
Phil Doyle is pleased that a display of subtle beauty and athletic grace has been overtaken by some good old-fashioned mindless violence

L E T T E R S
 Real Hero
 Howard vs World
 Marching Orders
 Tough as ABC
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Howard's $30m Rip Off


Under cover of WorkChoices, John Howard slipped through a regulation, that will cost hundreds of Victorian families $30 million.

The manoeuvre came to light when Huon Group administrators sacked 122 people from factories in Bendigo, Frankston and Dandenong, last week, and announced $30 million in owed entitlements, for all 600 employees, had disappeared.

Last year, Howard altered regulations so his GEERS Scheme would only have to meet entitlements when an employer had gone into bankruptcy.

Huon went into voluntary administration, two weeks ago, and, prior to last November, its staff would have been covered by GEERS.

AMWU Victorian secretary, Dave Oliver, called the Howard sting "dishonest" and "disgraceful'.

"Two events brought GEERS into being," Oliver said, "the company run by John Howard's brother, Stan, leaving employees high and dry, and the collapse of Ansett.

"In the run-up to a general election, John Howard introduced GEERS to protect entitlements then, by regulation, he gutted it.

"As a result, we've got 600 long-serving employees who have lost everything. Basically, those entitlements were their life savings."

Even worse, Oliver said, the regulatory change encouraged administrators to rip-off long-serving staff.

"The regulation undermines the whole point of establishing the scheme," he said. "It gives administrators a major incentive to cut people loose."

Furious employees deserted all three factories after mass meetings, last Friday.

NUW and AMWU members set up picket lines and determined to let nothing in or out until sacked colleagues received their full entitlements.

"They've voted to take control of the company's assets until something is sorted out," Oliver confirmed.

The Huon Group collapse is a messy story that has seen workers, many with 20 years service, dudded by corporate shenanigans.

They worked most of their lives for Nylex and that company was responsible for the vast majority of accrued entitlements - holiday pay, redundancy, long service etc.

Nylex sold out to the Huon Group, last year, provoking union attempts to guarantee entitlements, following the default of another Nylex subsidiary.

Oliver says the company pledged to set up a bond worth more than $3 million but there is no evidence of that pledge being honoured.

Then, after the sale, Huon transferred the largest asset, the land, into a separate property trust controlled by one of its directors and his daughters.


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