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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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Vanstone Opens New Meat Market

Meat industry efforts to water down skill standards for imported workers show they have been rorting the system, according to the Meatworkers Union.

National secretary, Graham Bird, suspects Commonwealth attempts to get states to sign off on a new meat industry regime are a direct response to a report Amanda Vanstone has been sitting on for six months.

The Minister has ducked challenges to release departmental findings into allegations that a Murray Bridge abattoir imported non-skilled Asians to work for hundreds of dollars below negotiated rates.

Now the industry wants unskilled labour to be reclassified as skilled work by the stroke of a pen.

It also seeks to dodge existing requirements on employers to pay return airfares and health insurance for imported workers.

Commonwealth proposals have been kept away from worker reps, while Canberra seeks backing from state governments.

Meat Industry Council boss, Kevn Cottrill, says 30 meatworks want to bring in another 1000 workers.

Bird says the proposals flow from Vantstone's secret report.

"There's not much doubt about that. Their investigations have found that what we have been saying is factual but they don't want to admit it," Bird said.

"We haven't been shown the new proposals but, from what we've heard, they tighten up earnings and hours of work but don't have any meaningful enforcement mechanisms.

"And that's the whole problem with this government's guest labour program. The practice doesn't match the theory because they don't enforce the rules."

He said Murray Bridge was a case in point. The report, forwarded to Vanstone, showed the system was being rorted but hundreds of guest workers were still employed there and no penalties had been imposed.

Bird challenged the industry's core claim of a debilitating labour shortage.

"Works that paying union negotiated rates and have good conditions can get workers," he said.

"There are one or two exceptions, in very isolated places, but the companies leading the charge for guest labour are those using AWAs to slash the pay and conditions of Australians."


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