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Issue No. 356 21 December 2006  

The End
In vintage Workers Online fashion we have detected a minor, but telling, factual error in last week�s missive/suicide note. It�s not a seven year itch � this is, in fact, the end of an eight year project.


Interview: The Terminator
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson looks back on the highs and lows of a year when the battle lines were drawn.

Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Jim Marr glances back through a year of news and discovers plenty of reason for optimism�

Unions: Breaking News
The web offered new ways of covering unions issues. Here�s ten ways Workers Online tried to do things differently.

History: Seven Deadly Sins
Looking back on our annual year-ender editorials gives a nice overview of the journey we have taken.

Economics: Back to the Future
Political economist Frank Stilwell looks back at a year that saw the passing of the drivers of two strains of economic thought.

Politics: Organising and Organisations
Organising for unionists can mean overcoming the �union�. The �rolling of the right� by the BLF rank and file shows the power of workers united to defeat the power of bosses and certain union bosses.

International: Web Retrospective
Unions and the web � What's changed in the last seven years? The short answer is � everything and nothing, wrties Eric Lee

Review: Shock Therapy
Unreconstructed Kazakhi journalist Borat is unleashed on the �US and A� offending everyone � except the bigots.


 High Flyers Go For Gold

 Hospital Staff Prescribe Radical Surgery

 Holland Goes Dutch on Safety

 New Thinking to Transport Sydney

 Check Mate - Track Your Personal Info

 WorkChoices on a Trolley

 See No Evil, OEA

 Feltex Carpets PM's Fibs

 Workers Blood on the Walls

 Lift For Unfair Dismissal Campaign

 No Discrimination on Choice

 Vanstone Opens New Meat Market

 Activists' Notebook


The Future
So Where to Now?
Amanda Tattersall outlines her plans for Working NSW and the challenge of connecting research, communications and campaigning.

Gone But Not Forgotten
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1915-2006). His memory is still being honoured, writes Jim Marr

The Westie Wing
Our favourite politician bids adieu and hangs up his chestnuts.

 Hit For Six
 Kind Words
 Sorely Missed
 All the Best
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Holland Goes Dutch on Safety

The federal government has given John Holland the green light to jump out of state OH&S systems and self-insure under Comcare in a move certain to lower construction industry safety standards.

Despite a dubious safety record, John Holland completed the formalities when the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Council brushed CFMEU calls for affected workers to be consulted.

National secretary, Dave Noonan, says the Comcare option is a "Trojan horse" that will lower safety standards across Australia.

"Comcare employs 32 safety inspectors nationwide. NSW Workcover, alone, has 310 inspectors, that tells you something about the different approaches.

"This is deregulation gone mad and, unfortunately, Australian families are likely to pay the ultimate price.

"Construction can be a dangerous industry and WA is booming at the moment. Comcare doesn't have a single health and safety inspector in the state. It covers Western Australia from Adelaide, thousands of kilometres away from areas like the Pilbara.

"This is part of a federal government move to lowest common denominator health and safety which is consistent with their approach to wages and conditions.

"The ultimate aim to put financial pressure on state systems so they reduce benefits for injured workers."

The amount payable to a paraplegic, for example, is around 30-40% less under Comcare than under Victoria's workers' compensation system.

Someone who loses a thumb and forefinger in a workplace accident, gets compensation of $66,000 under Comcare, against $114,00 in NSW and around $107,000 under the Victorian system.

Workers Online is aware of at least two serious injuries on John Holland building sites in recent months. A Newcastle worker lost an arm and a Western Australian suffered serious facial injuries.

Under state law, building sites are subject to regular health and safety inspections by WorkCover officials and building unions are entitled to do their own inspections if they have safety concerns.

Workcover officials regularly write out prohibition and improvement notices in a bid to prevent accidents happening.

Comcare, established to monitor conditions on white collar, public service jobs, is far less proactive.

Nationally, the move will allow John Holland to lock more than a thousand building industry-trained health and safety experts off its sites.

Significantly, from March next year, Comcare-based companies will be able to block all union entry on health and safety grounds, under federal industrial laws.

Other large companies that have won federal government support to pull out of state OH&S systems include National Australia Bank, Linfox and Optus.


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