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Issue No. 331 03 November 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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

C O L U M N S

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

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

L E T T E R S
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News

Honey, They Shrunk Our Pay


The AMWU has released a Cheat's Guide to Section 457 visas, demonstrating how the federal government allows Australia's worst employers to rip off Third World tradespeople.

The simple step-by-step move is taken straight from the Dartbridge Welding playbook and shows how a theoretical wage of $41,000 a year can be turned into take home income of less than $17,000.

AMWU secretary, Doug Cameron, says the $41,850 gross annual income demanded of guest labour employers is a "rip off" that duds immigrants of thousands of dollars a year, in comparison to Australians doing the same work, but reality is much worse.

The Filipinos employed by Dartbridge were promised the legal minimum but then the smoke and mirrors were applied.

They were

- charged $175 a week each for transports and bunk accommodation

- slugged $49 a week for health insurance

- classified as casuals, effectively stripping $201.20 a week from their wages

- charged an agent's fee of $3660 each

- made to pay interest on the "agent's fee", for six months, at an effective rate of 66 percent, costing another $1098

- federal government still taxed them on their gross figure of $41,850 stripping another $167 a week out of their pay packets

Then, hey presto, the $41,850 promised in the Philippines had turned into $324.15 a week in Brisbane.

The AMWU says the Brisbane welders are just one example of how employers rort the system without attracting the attention of government agencies. There have been worse.

Last month, a Chinese immigrant revealed he had been charged an agent's fee of $A20,000.

Another Chinese tradesmen said he had been charged an agent's fee in Hong Kong, then the Australian employer had forced him to pay it another $10,000 out of his weekly earnings.

Earlier this year, in Perth, Korean immigrants were forced to buy second hand cars, on arrival, at prices locals say were up to three times their real value.

The AMWU has called for a full parliamentary inquiry into the system administered by Immigration Minister, Amanada Vanstone.

Workers Online has already revealed that Vanstone has sat for months on a critical report into the mass importation of Chinese meatworkers, prepared by her own department.

Cameron is calling for a full parliamentary inquiry into the 457 Visa scheme.


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