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Issue No. 323 08 September 2006  

Double Jeopardy
As more examples of the human misery that is WorkChoices comes to light, the Howard Government is constructing a devious defence strategy that further erodes the independence of the public service.


Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
The ACCC is the latest state agency to turn its guns on the construction union. National official, Dave Noonan, discusses the implications.

Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
With new laws looming for “independent contractors”, Foxtel subbies have had the carpet pulled from under their feet, writes Nathan Brown.

Unions: Industrial Wasteland
A group of inner-Sydney veterans appear to be working to strip their families of retirement incomes. Jim Marr records their desperation.

International: Two Bob's Worth
German and British workers are participating in business decisions while WorkChoices locks Australians out of the conversation, writes Anthony Forsyth.

Economics: National Interest
John Howard claimed that interest rates would always be lower under a Coalition government than under Labor, Neale Towart crunchess the numbers.

Environment: The Real Dinosaur
Economic ignorance remains at the top and the critics are oblivious says Sol Power

History: Only In Spain?
The experiences of self management during the Civil War have been the one positive factor to come from that tragic event, and the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation thrives today.

Review: Clerk Off
Nathan Brown draws solace from some fellow social misfits.


 All Work and No Pay

 Peking Ducks Safety Regs

 MPs Face Super Clean-Out

 Gas Man Won't Say What's Cooking

 Crane Boss Lifts Her Profile

 World Bank Hollers for Marshalls

 Pork Choices

 Medibank Sale Looking Crook

 Radio Rentals Off Air

 Finger Man Gives For Sale Sign

 Libs: Lay Off Our Oppressor

 Cleaners Mop Up a Big One

 15 Percent All Round - Super!

 Activist's What's On!


Westie Wing
MLC Ian West ventures beyond Macquarie St and into the desert of the eco rats.

The Soapbox
Testing Times
Former RLPA secretary and Newcastle Knights prop, Tony Butterfield, fires up over dawn raids.

Dare to Win
The union movement has lost an inspirational leader of working men and women, writes Jeana Vithoulkas

Tommy's Apprentice
Chapter Two - Tommy’s Tale.

 Wicked Ways
 Catch a Tube
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Peking Ducks Safety Regs

Chinese Communists are using Amanda Vanstone's guest worker visas to undercut Australian rates on a Sydney construction site.

State-owned Hunan Industrial Equipment Installations has 50 guest workers at a Weatherill Park site that lay idle for a fortnight, after attracting 40 health and safety violations.

Workers Online understands Vanstone's department has green-lighted another batch of visas for a labour hire company that operates outside the reach of Australian OH&S, labour and commercial law.

AMWU NSW secretary, Paul Bastian, says Vanstone's Department knows Hunan is not registered.

"It is a condition of these visas that employers obey our laws but it is nothing more than an honour system," Bastian says.

"Because Hunan is not registered in Australia penalties cannot be applied under Australian law.

"It is disgraceful to bring vulnerable people into our country, pay them below going rates, and provide no enforceable sanctions on people who might rip them off.

"The only possible sanction is visa cancellation and that depends on monitoring which, clearly, is not being done."

Numerous examples of blatant 457 rip-offs have been drawn to public and government attention, usually by unions or publications like Workers Online.

None of them has been uncovered by supposed regulators in Vanstone's department.

Workers Online has been exposing 457 exploitation since 2002. Examples have included:

- Manly eatery Ribs and Rumps underpaying three Black South African chefs to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars each. The men took their cases to the Chief Industrial Magistrate's Court, won sizeable settlements, and were promptly deported by DIMIA. On the eve of his forced departure, Reevis Khumalo, said: "It is a bad thing, my friend. We didn't break any laws but we are being forced out while the person who did breach the law is allowed to stay and prosper".

- A guest worker being whipped out of Wagga Wagga base hospital and flown back to South Africa before authorities could speak to him in the wake of a workplace accident that claimed two lives.

- Another three African chefs, from separate Sydney restaurants, filing massive underpayment claims in December, 2002. They disappeared and nothing further was heard of their actions.

- A company, associated with the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, importing 30 tradesmen - boilermakers, pipe fitters and welders - and paying them less than the half the rates of Australians working alongside them. The men were charged $5000 upfront, to get their 457 visas, then slugged 144 percent interest on their loans. They were farmed out to industrial sites across WA. When the AMWU blew the whistle, their employer demanded written indemnities against backpay claims, and threatened individuals with deportation.

- Korean tradesmen in WA alleging they were conned into entering Australia. They said rates were grossly inferior to what had been promised, they were forced to buy cars, for $21,00 a shot on arrival, and worked up to 60 hours a week without overtime. Two Koreans claimed to have been sacked for comparing wages with Aussie workmates and a number were threatened with deportation.

- Senator Kate Lundy told Parliament that 15 Filipinos in the ACT hospitality industry had been bullied, underpaid, victimised and treated like slaves. She named three high-profile Canberra establishments, drawing fire from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry which rejected all allegations. With protection from the LHMU, several Filipinos laid official complaints, and prosecutions resulted.

- Last week's AMWU revelation that a Melbourne print firm had extracted $10,000 from a Chinese guest worker's wages. He had also been charged $10,000 for his visa. After working 60 hours a week, for a year, the company sacked him and tried to have him deported.

Bastian said the inability of imported Chinese to read, write or understand English had presented serious safety problems on the ABC job at Weatherill Park.

One Aussie employee said he had been stunned to see a guest worker make a non-compliant Chinese tool fit a power socket by stripping the cord and inserting naked wires into a plug.

Other Australians workers say their Chinese counterparts are, at best, semi-skilled and their work could be done by unemployed locals.

Vanstone mounted an aggressive defence of her Section 457 scheme on national television, last week.

Earlier this year she confirmed the four-year guest labour arrangements had been introduced to hold down Australian wage rates.


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