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December 2002   

Interview: Trade Secrets
Federal Labor�s trade spokesman Craig Emerson is on a mission to bring the shady world of trade talks into the open

Industrial: It�s About Overtime, Stupid
An overtime free-for-all is at the heart of Australia�s hours explosion and it's time to look at a cap on hours, reports Noel Hester from the ACTU�s Working Hours Summit.

Unions: Full Steam Ahead
After two weeks of rallies around the state, rural Rail Towns are making a stand for jobs and safety. Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: The BBQ Battle Axe
Manly restaurateur, David Diamond, is a shoo-in for this month�s Bad Boss nomination, leaving Workers Online looking for a good employer who can undo some of his damage.

Economics: Different Dimensions of Debt
Professor Frank Stilwell presented the big picture on debt policy at the Evatt Foundation�s Breakfast Seminar

History: Raking the Coals
Labour historians Rae Cooper and Greg Patmore explain why today�s organisers have much to learn from the lessons of the past.

History Special: Wherever the Necessity Exists
Rae Cooper tracks NSW union organising between 1900-1910 to argue that today�s activists should be looking closer to home for inspiration

History Special: Learning from the Past
Ray Markey looks at union membership growth in the 1880s & 1900s to argue that today�s unions must engage to grow.

History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Barbara Webster looks at Rockhampton between 1916 � 1957 to debunk the �dependence� theory of trade union growth.

Politics: Regime Change for Saddam
Labour lawyer Jim Nolan looks at the challenge for the Left in the current geopolitical stand-off in the Middle East.

International: World War
Europe has suddenly come aflame with industrial action, Andrew Casey reports.

Corporate: Industrious Thinking
Neale Towart looks at the influence of German immigration on Australian industry policy in the post-war period.

Review: Jack High
Mick Molloy�s new flick Crackerjack tells the tale of a traditional bowling club struggling to stay afloat in an industry dominated by pokies, pokies and more pokies, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Culture: Duffy�s Song
Former Labor Council official Mark Duffy�s Sydney super band Sundial clocks in a bit of a corker.

Satire: A Nation of Sooks
The Strewth Institute's Tony Moore looks at the spate of defo suits and wonders if Australia has gone soft.

Poetry: Mr Flexibility
One of the key challenges facing unions, as the ACTU celebrates its 75th anniversary, is confronting the problems of increasing working hours and work intensity under the guise of "flexibility". Our resident bard, David Peetz, takes up that theme this week.


The Soapbox
Economic Migrants
A man - a worker - risks death by machine gun to escape what he is told is a 'workers' state'. He flees East Berlin through a tunnel, dug beneath a cemetery.

And the Winner Is �
It�s that time of the year when we honour the best. In the past week, both the IR Writers fraternity and ACTU have got in the act with more to come.

The Locker Room
More Post-Colonial Madness
Phil Doyle joins the fools and Englishmen out in the midday sun, and finds that it all comes at a price.

Call Waiting
The Howard Government backs off its plans to privatise the rest of Telstra under market pressure. But it�s nothing like the pressure that former HIH directors are under.

Month In Review
Way Down
As Elvis might have said, if he had had a longer-term perspective �ooh, what a month it was, it really was such a month ��


Lessons from History
History has a seemingly infinite capacity to create and debunk myths, as the latest offering from the Journal of Labour and Social History shows.


 And On the Seventh Day � Satan Joins Union

 Security Masks Political Bans

 Members Offered Spotters' Fee

 Casuals Written Out of the Script

 New Mining Bully On the Block

 ACTU Examines The Cap Option On Hours

 No Sweetener for Diabetic Workers

 Pressure Goes on Apartheid Employers

 ASIC Turns Blind Eye on Dodgy Boss

 Family Test Case a Priority Campaign

 Echoes of Prestige Hit Home

 Brutal Bashing Sparks Prison Strike

 Minister Challenged by Cleaners

 ABC Journos Off The Air

 Union Says RSCPA "Kills"...

 Guards Demand Campus Security

 Uni Backs Down On Regional Review

 Peace Returns to US Docks

 Activists Notebook

 Oh Bugger Me!
 State Based Organising
 Gino on the Gong
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Bad Boss

The BBQ Battle Axe

By Jim Marr

Manly restaurateur, David Diamond, is a shoo-in for this month�s Bad Boss nomination, leaving Workers Online looking for a good employer who can undo some of his damage.


Sowetans William Ndlovu and Reevis Khumalo, both 38, are looking for a Sydney restaurant operator who will respect them for their humanity as well as their undoubted culinary talents.

The pair, along with countryman Elliot Dube, were disappointed when the Chief Industrial Magistrate this week stood over their cases against Ribs and Rumps, Manly, until February on a last minute application from their employer's legal counsel.

All three are seeking more than $100,000 in back pay after receiving as little as $50 a week for their efforts in turning Ribs and Rumps into a thriving tourist strip operation.

Dube, who married an Aussie girl and moved to her home near Tamworth, is hoping for the security of a spouse's immigration visa. But Ndlovu and Khumalo are doing it tough, clinging to the Ribs and Rumps work that allows them to remain in Australia, in the face of growing employer hostility.

What they need, urgently, is another restaurateur to pick up their visa sponsorships and set them free from dependence on Diamond, himself a South African immigrant.

Reg and Ros Bartley, lawyers handling the cases pro bono, have had their work cut out keeping the pair at Manly this long.

"I have been looking for another job since I discovered this man (Diamond) is no my friend," Khumalo told Workers Online. "I do not want to stay because we no longer share or help each other.

"I work hard and I know my job but I also want to be respected."

Khumalo has enjoyed the little of Australia he has experienced and wants, eventually, to apply for citizenship.

The central problem with their set-up has been that it reduced them to little more than slaves for most of the past four years.

Paid just $50 in local currency for their first year, $100 for the second, and $150 until the Bartleys blew the legal whistle, they have been dependent on Diamond, unable to spread their wings and build independent lives.

To collect the bulk of their earnings, initially $1500 rand ($280 a month) they had to return to South Africa and pick it up from an associate of Diamond's. Repeated requests to be paid in Australia, they insist, fell on deaf ears.

When their initial Section 456 immigration visas expired they were flown to and from New Zealand, without setting foot outside Auckland International Airport.

Ndlovu flicks open his wallet to show a photo of his wife and two children, left behind in Johannesburg. He does so to illustrate his determination to see out the battle with Ribs and Rumps.

He was supposed to have flown home to spend holidays with his family but, instead, mooched around Sydney after legal advisers warned him he could find re-entry blocked if Diamond withdrew sponsorship.

His grievance is simple.

"We are making money for him which is our job but he won't pay us what he pays other people," Ndlovu says. "We are teaching the others how to grill the African way and working six days a week.

"All we want is what we are entitled to so we can move out and lead normal lives."

Since Ndlovu, Khumalo and Dube arrived in Sydney, Ribs and Rumps has thrived. On busy nights it caters for more than 500 customers.

Not only does their industrial claim raise the spectre of gross exploitation but the way they were brought to Australia highlights the Howard Government's use of immigration to undercut the wages and conditions of locals.

The former South African petrol pump attendant injured in the Lake Cargellico tragedy and spirited out of Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, Oagiles Molothane, could not read or write, raising serious questions about the validity of his paperwork.

His case was taken up by the CFMEU and resulting publicity flushed out of a scheme delivering upwards of 30 white South Africans a year to contractors working on a giant North Queensland cotton operation. They operate machinery and labour on the basis, apparently, that Australians don't have those skills.

Workers Online has become aware that five senior Immigration officials have been seconded to South Africa in recent weeks, presumably to handle more visa applications.

Reg Bartley has been frustrated in his efforts to win justice for the Ribs and Rumps trio. He says the only legal sanction against exploitation of workers in his clients' positions is termination of their visas which, obviously, have more adverse consequences for employees than employers.

That frustration grew as Ribs and Rumps sought and finally won a postponement of the current case until the New Year, putting Ndlovu and Khumalo under increased pressure.

If they can be forced out of the country, the fear goes, their wage claims will disappear with them.

Together, Ndlovu and Khumalo have nearly 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry. While both hold visas that, theoretically, allow them to ply their trades in Australia until 2006 they need new sponsors to turn that into reality.

The Bad Boss of the Year will be announced at the Labor Council Executive Dinner on Decmber 20


*    Click here for previous nominees

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