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Issue No. 333 17 November 2006  

Altered States
OK, so it wasn't unpredictable to see the High Court bow down at the altar of expanded federal powers this week, but in ruling this way our most senior judges have betrayed something more profound.


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.


 Westpac Banks on Aussies, No Joshing

 Coal Miners Go Green

 TAFE Chiefs Want WorkChoices Cut

 “Elephant” Knocks Over Unicentre

 Bosses Strike Fair Deals

 NSW Swings to Rights

 Sparks Fly Over Electrical Interference

 States Quarantine Remaining Rights

 Carpeted Victorians Fight AWAs

 Golden Geese Rule - Have a Gander

 Super Result for Industry Funds

 Smithfield Packers Shelved


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.

 Billionaires Club
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Sparks Fly Over Electrical Interference

The ACCC could investigate Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, after he torpedoed a negotiated contract between Victorian electrical workers and their bosses.

Andrews used extraordinary powered he conferred on himself, under special building industry legislation, to rule an agreement that took 12 months to negotiate was not "code compliant" although his own departmental officers had ruled that it was.

Failure to abide by the building industry code blocks employers from access to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of federal government work.

It was drafted to try and drive unions out of the building industry and forbids employers from agreeing to co-operate with unions in virtually any way.

NECA (the National Electrical Contractors Association) and the ETU spent a year thrashing out an agreement that was ruled code compliant by Andrews' officers in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Office of the Employment Advocate.

But after 50 Melbourne-based contractors signed on, Andrews decreed they would barred from any federal government contracts because of a deed of agreement they had signed.

Around 4000 electrical workers voted unanimously to endorse the NECA deal at a mass meeting in Melbourne, this week.

ETU secretary, Dean Mighell, said they had "drawn a line in the sand."

"We negotiated in good faith, we struck a deal and we are going to honour it, irrespective of third party interference," Mighell said.

"While we are doing that we will examine our remedies.

"On the face of it, this must be a case for the ACCC. If anyone interfered with a contract as blatantly as this, in the commercial world, it would be anti-competitive conduct."

Mighell said the Minister might also have a case to answer under anti-discrimination laws for seeking to damage employers because of the type of agreement they had entered into.

ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, told this week's meeting the battle was now a political one and that their only effective avenue of redress was to throw the Howard Governnment out of office.

Furious ETU members voted to knock off for the day, rejecting Mighell's warning that such an action could open them to big fines.


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