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Issue No. 319 11 August 2006  

Good Versus Evil
So it's come to this - working women's groups that alert clients to union activities will be denied federal government funding and, effectively, forced to close.


Interview: A Life And Death Matter
Macquarie Street and Canberra are squaring off over safety in the workplace, NSW Minister for Industrial relations, John Della Bosca, explains what's at stake.

Unions: Fighting Back
When John Howard's building industry enforcer started threatening people's homes, one couple hit the road. Jim Marr met them in Sydney.

Industrial: What Cowra Means
The ruling on the Cowra abattoir case highlights the implications of the new IR rules, according to John Howe and Jill Murray

Environment: Scrambling for Energy Security
Howard Government hypocrisy is showcased in its climate change manoeuvring, Stuart Rosewarne writes:

Politics: Page Turner
A new book leaves no doubt about whether the faction came before the ego, Nathan Brown writes.

Economics: The State of Labour
The capacity of the state to shape the political economy and thus improve the social lives of the people must be reasserted, argues Geoff Dow.

International: Workers Blood For Oil
A new book by Abdullah Muhsin and Alan Johnson lifts the lid on the bloody reality of US backed democracy for Iraq's trade unions

History: Liberty in Spain
Worker Self-Management is good management. The proof in Spain was in Catalania, Andalusia and continues in the Basque Country, as Neale Towart explains.

Review: Go Roys, Make A Noise
Phil Doyle thought he'd find nostalgia, but instead Vulgar Press' new book, Maroon & Blue is a penetrating insight into the suburban mind under stress.


 Sprung: Light on Day

 Mal Content to Challenge King

 More Standover Tactics in WA

 Qantas Holidays Delayed 150 Years

 Hockey Wields Stick

 We Have Ways of Cutting Your Pay

 Jihad Johnny Targets Women

 Council Workers Talk The Walk

 Trujillo Slices Millions Off Bottom Line

 Vehicle Jobs on Skids

 Teachers Suspend Selves

 Bishop Damns WorkChoices

 Workers Rights On The Road

 ACTU Backs Business, Germans

 Activist's What's On!


The Locker Room
Ruled Out
Phil Doyle plays by the rules

Tommy's Apprentice
Chapter One - Tommy and "The Boy"

Westie Wing
Ian West wonders what might happen if the NSW Coalition actually did win power next March at the State elections.

 Pimps and Prostitutes
 The Cruellest Cut
 Poll On
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Sprung: Light on Day

The organisation championing federal government's Independent Contractors Act is supported by less than 0.1 percent of its potential members.

The stunning admission came at Senate Estimates, last week, renewing speculation that Independent Contracts Australia is a front for forces that want to remain hidden.

The shadowy organisation has been ultra-secretive about membership and funding, since it emerged five years ago.

But, under Senate questioning, executive director Ken Phillips, testified the ICA only had "a couple of hundred members".

According to its own propaganda there are more than 1.9 million independent contractors in Australia.

Phillips' evidence means around one in every 9500 contractors has chosen to join an organisation that purports to speak for them.

CFMEU assistant national secretary, Dave Noonan, says the admission raises questions beyond the ICA's political credibility.

"Now they have to come clean on their funding," Noonan said.

"This mob should publish membership figures and accounts so people know who their real masters are. Obviously, they don't run their show on membership fees."

Phillips told Senate Estimates some members pay a $5 token fee on top of a $50 annual website charge.

A best-case scenario would give ICA membership income of around $11,000 a year.

For that, Independent Contractors Australia, employs an economist with strong links to the federal government as its chairman and right wing extremist, Phillips, as executive director.

It has travelled to Geneva for each of the last two years to monitor ILO discussions relating to independent contractors, and it makes long-winded submission to virtually every parliamentary committee or statutory body it thinks might be able to wind back workers rights.

On top of that, it has started to breed front organisations of its own - most recently, Owner Drivers Australia, a paper entity, based at the Independent Contractors website, that also specialises in making submissions to parliamentary committees.

Independent Contractors Australia has been dodgy from the off.

Supposedly established to look after the interests of independent contractors, it was founded in 2001 by one of Australia's largest builders, millionaire political activist Bob Day.

Day was simultaneously chairman of ICA and national president of the peak employer body, HIA (the Housing Industry Association).

He only quit the top position at ICA, last year, but not because of the glaring conflict of interest. The organisation's website confirms he remains on its national committee.

Day has had a number of run-ins with real independent contractors as the owner of a number of building companies.

Workers Online is aware of at least one case when Day's Homestead Homes was taken to the federal court by a disgruntled brikkie sub-contractor, alleging unfair contracts.

Homestead spent plenty on its defence, forcing the brikkie into the High Court before making a settlement.

Workers Online understands Day's company spent in the vicinity of $20,000 to settle that claim, with legal costs on top.

CFMEU SA vice president, Ben Carslake, says the brikkie only got a settlement through union representation.

"Individuals can't pursue these cases by themselves. It's far too expensive and big businessmen, like Bob Day, know that," Carslake says.

"That's why they are determined to stop sub-contractors banding together and to prevent them being represented by unions.

"Bob Day had a very poor reputation down here. Individuals can't get redress against people like him if they are left to their own devices."

Day, Ken Phillips and the only "human" named on the Owner Drivers website, Don D'Cruz, all have longstanding links with the right wing HR Nicholls Society, founded by Peter Costello.

The HR Nicholls Society has been agitating for legislation similar to John Howard's WorkChoices for more than 20 years.

It is a key supporter of Howard's proposed Independent Contractors Act, along with the ICA and Owner Drivers Australia.

Bob Day and his Independent Contractors are lobbying hard for provisions that would deny contractors union representation in unfair contracts disputes.

They are also demanding:

- removal of protections for outworkers

- removal of state protections for NSW and Victorian owner drivers

- removal of small claims access from outworkers

"They would, wouldn't they?" Noonan says. "They represent the interests of big businessmen like Bob Day.

"We don't have a problem with them agitating but we do have a problem with them passing themselves off as independent contractors, without any verification whatsoever."


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