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Issue No. 316 21 July 2006  

Call Security
There's a bloke, a pollster, prowling the country with a tale for the centre-left about messages and constituencies.


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.


 Hendification Blurs WorkChoices ll

 Visa Rorts Minister Urged to Quit

 Organiser On Front Line

 Fire Brigade Chokes on Tests

 Union Backs Man of Steel

 $3 Billion Dollar Chalkies

 Lib Pans Telstra Job Cuts

 James Hardie Joins AWA Crusade

 Job Network Unravels

 Andrews Discovers Irony

 Big Business Bashes Bush

 Howard Pinches Pay

 Tilers Spark Korean Protest

 Activists What's On


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

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

 Balancing Act
 Sick of Ants
 Swimming Uphill
 Praise from Belly
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Visa Rorts Minister Urged to Quit

A Perth heavy engineering firm is charging guest workers $10 a week to interpret safety signs into languages they can understand.

AMWU WA secretary, Jock Ferguson, labelled the levies, imposed by United KG, at Kwinana, a “disgrace”.

"Employers owe workers a duty of care whether they are Australian, Chinese or any other nationality," Ferguson said. "It is fundamentally wrong to charge people so they can work in a safe environment."

The revelation came as Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, bowed to growing pressure for an audit of guest labour visas.

Vanstone announced a joint federal-state working party would convene on July 31 to examine skilled migration arrangements.

But Ferguson, who has brought a number of high-profile rip-offs to public attention, said the manoeuvre was "too little, too late" and demanded Vanstone's resignation.

"The Minister has to go," Ferguson said. "She has failed these vulnerable people and she has failed hundreds of thousands of Australians who have been denied training and work.

"We have given this Minister every chance. We have done the leg work for her and given the department case studies of people who have been ripped off and this is the best she can do."

Three years ago, the AMWU highlighted the predicament of more than 30 South African tradesmen brought to WA, with the involvement of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and paid less than half the rate of Aussies working alongside them.

Last year, it blew the whistle on labour hire outfit, KSN Engineering, which demanded payments of $8000 a head from 60 Korean welders. It alleged the Koreans all paid their fares to Australia, and settlement costs, in contravention of terms of federal 457 visas.

"These people then found themselves working up to 60 hours a week for a flat rate of $22 an hour. That is, between $8 and $12 an hour less than WA welders, before you consider overtime," Ferguson said.

Last month, WA's Department of Consumer and Employment Protection reported rip-offs by 78 percent of the guest labour sponsors it investigated over a two-year period.

Ferguson said 457 visas were central to the federal government's IR agenda to down wages. Employers who used them were under no obligation to pay going rates and could use AWAs to undermine negotiated conditions.

He said, since the Howard Government took office 350,000 "skilled" migrant workers had been admitted to the country while 300,000 young Australians had been turned away from TAFEs.

Last week, the Age newspaper, reported migration middlemen were charging skilled immigrats up to $15,000 for 457 sponsorships and threatening deportation if anyone complained.

Vanstone defended her government's guest labour system in an interview with the Australian Financial Review, last week.

"The 457 visas aren't a problem. They're a fabulous visa that is really assisting Australian industry to cope with the growth in the economy," she said.


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