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Issue No. 356 21 December 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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

C O L U M N S

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

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

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

L E T T E R S
 Hit For Six
 Kind Words
 Sorely Missed
 All the Best
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

See No Evil, OEA


John Howard's Office of the Employment Advocate is registering AWAs that exploited foreign workers have neither seen nor signed.

The practise came to light after the AMWU rescued three ripped-off Filipino welders after they were sacked by Brisbane labour hire outfit, Dartbridge Welding.

Branch secretary, Andrew Dettmer, revealed the office, established by the Prime Minister to police and promote his individual contracts, had registered AWAs binding the men to Dartbridge Welding without even checking their authenticity.

"These men met in Manilla with the head of Dartbridge Welding and signed short statements. Now we find that Dartbridge filed AWAs in their names and attached those statements.

"The OEA rubber stamped the AWAs without any checks whatsoever. These men had never seen the AWAs that were supposed to govern their terms of employment.

"They had no freedom and no choice but that didn't matter to the OEA."

In Manilla, the men were told they would receive the minimum rate for "guest workers" on controversial 457 visas of $41,850 a year, plus time and a half and double time for overtime.

But the secret AWAs, provided for massive deductions from those salaries, leaving them with around $300 for 55-hour working weeks.

"These people were grossly exploited and the OEA made it possible," Dettmer said.

He claimed that two families, in the Phillipines, were facing criminal investigations because they had not been able to honour post-dated cheques after Dartbridge punted their bread winners.

The AMWU has found alternative employment for the Filipinos and launched actions on their behalf in the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission.

The men claim to have been dismissed after joining the union.

Several compatriots are still on Dartbridge's books and the AMWU is considering seeking a federal court declaration that would invalidate their current AWAs.


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