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Issue No. 324 15 September 2006  

Democracy Rules
The hysterical response to the ACTU’s blueprint to restore industrial democracy to the Australian workplace only serves to underline what a brazen grab for employer privilege the Howard Government’s changes to IR really are.


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.


 Medibank Sale "Critical"

 Broken Down and Packaged for Export

 Child's Play: New Low for Spooks

 Judge Lashes Building Laws

 Buy Gum and Masticate on "Associates"

 Bosses on the Barbie

 No Secrets On Union Agenda

 OWS: Better Never Than Late

 Youth Workers Beat AWAs

 Kiwis Demand Shelf Respect

 Meat Man Steaks Claim

 Heinemann Chooses Its Laws

 Air Safety Crashes

 Super-Size Me

 Less is More for Dixon

 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.

 Tony Terrific
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Broken Down and Packaged for Export

A Chinese tradesman who sold his family home to get to Australia has been left destitute and injured in suburban Melbourne.

Zu Zhihong, 49, became the latest victim of Immigration Minister Amanada Vanstone's plan to cut Australian earnings, when he was deserted by Lakeside Packaging after breaking both wrists at its Campbellfield factory.

A desperate Zu Zhihong contacted the AMWU after the company marked him for deportation.

He was still thousands of dollars short of earning the $27,000 he had been slugged in Shanghai for one of the federal government's controversial Section 457 visas.

Vanstone claims "skilled immigrants" get a minimum of $41,000 a year but Zhihong's wages slips show he was receiving just $572 gross a week - a little over $29,000 a year.

His papers reveal he was contracted to work 45 hours for that money.

Zhihong began work in Australia on November 13, 2005. If he got to keep every after tax cent he earned he would have had to have worked until December, this year, just to pay off his visa.

But, on April 4, he fell five metres from a ladder and found himself in Epping Hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken right wrist.

Because he had no income and no work cover, he returned to Lakeside two days later.

"On June 30, when I was using the electric drill to drill a hole in the metal, because I had hardly any use of my right hand, I then broke my left wrist," he said in a statement.

"I was taken to Epping Hospital again where they plastered my left wrist."

He had a doctor's certificate, declaring him unfit for work until September 22, but on August 2, the company stopped his pay and on August 21 it terminated him and informed him, in writing, he would be deported within 28 days.

Under Victorian state law it is illegal to sack a person on legitimate sick leave but, under federal immigration law, 457 visa holders are deported if they do not have a sponsoring employer for 28 days.

Zhihong approached the AMWU after publicity of its support for countryman, Jack Zhiang, after he was ripped off by a Melbourne print shop.

AMWU official, Jim Reid, labelled the treatment of Section 457 workers a "national disgrace".

"How are we going to get this guy another job?" Reid asked. "When I met him, last Friday, he had a brace on one arm and a plaster on the other.

"He has to have an operation but the company has never submitted a work cover claim.

"He's stuck. He has no money, no wages, no sick leave and no work cover. His employer has washed his hands of him.

"Too many employers are ripping these workers off and the government does nothing.

"By doing nothing, it is encouraging their behaviour.

Reid said the AMWU is preparing work cover and unlawful dismissal claims for Zhihong and will try to make sure he is allowed to stay long enough to get alternative employment.

Zhihong says three countrymen, on 457 visas, are still employed at Lakeside Packaging.

Melbourne's The Age newspaper has quoted Lakeside Packaging boss, Meno Najdovski, defending the treatment of Zhihong.

Najdovski accused the Chinaman of lying, being lazy and turning up late for work.

"We've got proof there is nothing wrong with Fu," Najdovski said. "Fu should not be here, he should be back at home."


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