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Issue No. 332 10 November 2006  

Affairs of State
For those of us on the left of politics it’s been a week where there is more joy in thinking global rather than focussing on the local.


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.


 Abrasive Giant Pinged on Sackings

 Offshoring Good for CV: Qantas

 Records of Convenience

 Construction Lives Going Cheap

 Suncorp in Dee Why Denial

 States Fall to Unions

 Bisshop Looking for Converts

 Guestworkers Off the Menu

 AAPT Hangs Up on Country Jobs

 Super Funds Fight Telstra Perks

 Taxing Times for Compo Cheat


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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Construction Lives Going Cheap

Another el cheapo construction job, run on 457 visas, has been closed on safety grounds.

Thirteen South Koreans vacated digs at the Lake Bolac caravan park after WorkCover inspectors shut the grain silo job in a paddock, 100km west of Ballarat.

Inspectors found unsafe wiring, dangerous work being done without required licenses, faulty lifting gear, and that the Koreans hadn't been gone through mandatory induction programs.

Stunned CFMEU officials have put in a formal request for paperwork confirming the Koreans' visa status.

"According to WorkCover they were breaching just about safety regulation in the book," CFMEU secretary, Martin Kingham, said.

"Someone must have dobbed them in to WorkCover, otherwise no one would have known about it until the thing fell down.

"This is what happens when governments encourage people to undercut wages and safety standards."

Workers Online understands the Korean company building the grain silo halved the most competitive Australian quote for the job.

The scramble for a cheap rate started after a mini tornado ripped through the district, last year, taking the old grain solo with it.

The farmers co-op that operates the facility had under-insured to such an extent that it couldn't meet any Australian price for delivering a replacement.

Instead, apparently, it went on the internet and found a Korean company that could slice 50 percent off the price by using workers on 457 visas.

The Lake Bolac closure further embarrasses a federal government that uses 457 visas, in conjunction with WorkChoices, to drive down wages and conditions.

Only last week, another 457 operator, Hunan Industrial Equipment, had to back pay Chinese construction workers in western Sydney more than $650,000 in underpayments.

It was pinged after work on an ABC Tissues press was halted when WorkCover hit the site with a staggering 40 separate health and safety notices.

In the absence of action by any federal government agency, the AMWU forced an inquiry with claims of massive underpayments and workers comp rip-offs.

The Office of Workplace Services confirmed the AMWU allegations in a press release, last week.


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