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Issue No. 331 03 November 2006  

From Green House to Glass House
History tells us that towards the end of most reigns of power the regime stops listening to the people, stops talking to them and reverts to crushes dissent. Events this week suggest this is where the Howard Government is now.


Interview: Common Ground
Nature Conservation Council director Cate Faehrmann on the fight against global warming and how unions and greens can learn from each other.

Industrial: A Low Act
The Low Paid. The Fair Pay Commission knows who pays them. We can do something about it as they will not.

Unions: The Number of the Least
Forget 666 - 457 is looming as the scariest number for Aussie workers and their families, Jim Marr writes.

Politics: The Smoking Gun
Hayek's henchman, Raplph Harris, goes to free market heaven, writes Evan Jones

Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
They are supposed to ensure the wealth of well-being of individuals. Whats wrong with that? asks Neale Towart

Environment: Low Voltage
Nuclear Power and Prime Ministerial pronouncements are seriously short of a few volts, wrties Neal Towart

History: The Art of Social Justice
Tom Martin was a terrific cartoonist and part of a great tradition in labour movement history and culture, swrties Neale Towart.

Review: Work�s Unhealthy Appetite
It pays the bills � usually � but going to work should come with a warning, wrties Jackie Woods.

Culture: A Forgotten Poet
There is little information on the public record about the radical working class poet Ernest Antony, writes Rowan Cahill.


 Godfrey Hirst Carpets Workers

 Lies, Damned Lies and the Shirkin' Gherkin

 Guests Share Backpay Bonanza

 Win, Win for Filipinos

 Honey, They Shrunk Our Pay

 No Sex Thanks, We're Asian

 Green Jobs to Beat Climate Change

 They're Going Out The Door

 Medibank Staff Go Under Knife

 Thompson Slams Door on Delo

 Merchant Bankers Pull Entitlements Stroke

 Green the New Black

 Councils Fight Off Shoring

 Acitivists Notebook


The Soapbox
Robbo Goes Green
John Robertson's speech to the Walk Against Warming

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at a former public institution and its contribution to NSW.

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Guests Share Backpay Bonanza

Forty-two ripped off guest workers are sharing a $745,000 backpay windfall, thanks to aggressive AMWU campaigning.

The public exposure of Hunan Industrial Equipment Installation and Melbourne-based Aprint was slammed by Immigration Minister Amanada Vanstone as a political stunt, but one of her government's agencies confirmed this week it had led to massive pay outs.

The Office of Workplace Services acknowledged Hunan had stumped up $650,972 for 38 ripped off guest workers, while Aprint had back paid four immigrants a total of $93,667.66.

AMWU NSW secretary, Paul Bastian, said the Hunan payout showed the extent of exploitation under the visa system and the attractions of denying work to Australians.

"Entitlements under the visa scheme are vastly inferior to Australian negotiated wages and conditions," Bastian said.

"When a company underpays its employees by $650,000 over six months, under those conditions, you can see the attraction of guest labour."

Bastian said no government agency "lifted a finger" about the rip-offs until the AMWU made them public and they could no longer be ignored.

The AMWU sprung Hunan Industrial Equipment when its project installing a press at ABC Tissues, Wetherill Park, was shut down after attracting 40 workplace safety breaches.

At the time, Bastian accused the company of "gross underpayments" and failure to pay workers compensation insurance.

ABC Tissues is having the construction job done predominantly by overseas labour. It also has an Italian company on site, using European guest workers.

WorkChoices legislation makes it illegal for union officials to get on sites using workers on 457 visas or AWAs to check compliance with Australian wages and conditions.

Workers Online understands that since being caught out, the ABC Tissues site is now surrounded by barbed wire and uses electronic personal recognition equipment to keep unwanted people at bay.

The AMWU broke the Aprint story after being contacted by desperate Chinese immigrant, Jack Zhang.

Aprint sacked Zhang, and tried to have him deported, after he completed paying it $10,000 in $200 weekly instalments, apparently a charge for giving him the job. He was immediately replaced by another "guest worker" from China.

The AMWU's action won Zhang $31,700 in backpay and three colleagues another $62,000 between them.

Meanwhile, the OWS has finally initiated action against a Canberra bar, fingered months ago by the LHMU.

The union named the Holy Grail, a favourite haunt of federal politicians, as one of a number of ACT bars and restaurants ripping off federal "guest workers".

The LHMU became involved in the case after one of its members, a Filipino, was sacked, and another foreign worker was kidnapped and driven to Sydney Airport.

The OWS this week confirmed it was seeking over $70,000 for 96 employees, including two guest workers.


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