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Issue No. 330 27 October 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Fair Weather Friends
This week’s decision by the Orwellian Fair Pay Commission may have surprised some with its seemingly generous quantum, but in doing so it also reinforced the union movement’s central criticism of the new wage fixing structure.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Finance Sector Union national secretary Paul Schroder is standing between the big banks and a bucket of money.

Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Chris Christodoulou gives seven reasons why WorkChoices is bad for business

Unions: The IT Factor
The future of Australian IT looks grim as big companies lead the rush to India and China, writes Jackie Woods.

Politics: Bargain Basement
Simple principles of democracy underpin the ACTU's collective bargaining proposal, insists ACTU Secrteary Greg Combet.

Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Al Gore may be warning of climate breakdown, but what hope the truth when he's up against such a well-oiled machine? asks Paul Sheridan

Corporate: Two Sides
Bilateral trade agreements are a good idea – just ask the US multinationals. The rest of us should strongly disagree says Pat Ranald

International: Unfair Dismissals
Nearly 10,000 workers were fired for their trade union activities in 2005, an annual trade union survey shows.

History: A Stitch in Time
Neale Towart takes some lessons from female textile workers while considering the case for recognition ballots.

Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
A film charting the turmoil of the Irish war for independence against British occupation during the 1920s might seem an odd choice for top honours at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

N E W S

 Unhappy Campers in Court

 Gran Backs Beazley

 Aunty Strikes at Lakemba Mosque

 Boeing Clause Flies

 Rissole Burns Joint Venture

 US Workers Bush Whacked

 Community Volunteers for Heavy Lifting

 Gong Sounds for Rogue Uni

 ANZ Banks on India

 Hollow Victory for Low Paid

 Life Education for Apprentices

 Activists

C O L U M N S

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a walk around the backyard with the Prime Minister…

The Soapbox
Rise Up
Hugo Chavez's explosive address to the United Nations

Culture
The Fear Factor
A new analysis of the history of fear takes us from the war on terror all the way to the modern workplace.

L E T T E R S
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News

Rissole Burns Joint Venture


One of the Perth workers being prosecuted by John Howard's building industry police force has kicked a hole in laws that appeared to allow employers to sack at will.

Safety delegate, Mal Peters, has successfully challenged “operational reasons” in the WA Industrial Relations Commission and won the right to have his unfair dismissal case heard.

Peters was dumped after returning to Perth from an east coast speaking tour where he raised support for 107 workmates on Leighton's Perth-Mandurah rail project who face fines of up to $28,000 for striking in support of a sacked union delegate.

He took annual leave to go on the speaking tour with his wife, Bernadette.

In an important decision, Senior IR Commissioner Jack Gregor, said the Leighton Kumaigi joint venture had a case to answer because their claim to have dismissed Peters for operational reasons did not appear genuine.

John Howard added "operational reasons" to a suite of sack-at-will options for employers in this year WorkChoices legislation.

Previously, IR Commission had only held that operational reasons needed to be "reasonable" to ring-fence employers from scrutiny. They had not made any findings on whether or not they needed to be genuine.

The decision is doubly important because it goes to the heart of the reason Peters and his workmates were hauled before the federal court by the Building Industry Commission.

They struck because they claimed a union delegate had been victimised by the company.

Similar arguments lie behind the CFMEU's defence of Peters.

Leighton Kumaigi claimed Peters had not been rissoled because of his speaking tour but because work on his section of the project had finished.

But the IRC found Peters had been involved in safety issues across the site and the contractor should have tried to find him employment on unfinished sections of the project.

Specifically, the commissioner found there was no genuine operational reason for Peters' dismissal and that his unfair dismissal action should proceed.


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