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July 2003   

Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
One the movement�s great characters, Public Service Association general secretary Maurie O�Sullivan, is calling it a day. He looks back on his career with Workers Online.

Industrial: Just Doing It
Sportswear giant, Nike, is the first company to sign off on an agreement that purports to protect Australian clothing workers, wherever they labour, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
For a 23-year-old woman who has never worked in the trade, recruiting young construction apprentices into the union has its challenges, reports Carly Knowles.

Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Mal Cochrane came to the smoke as part of an Aboriginal avalanche that redefined the face of Rugby League. Today, he serves his community through the trade union movement.

Bad Boss: In the Pooh
What do you give a boss who makes his workers labour in raw sewage? A nomination for the Tonys.

Unions: National Focus
In the national wrap Noel Hester finds a Victorian Misso delo who is redistributing lucre from Eddie McGuire into workers� theatre, South Australian unions taking that Let�s Get Real stuff seriously, an American unionist fronts up at a distinguished �meeting of the brains� in Adelaide and a look at the line up for ACTU Congress.

Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Dick Bryan wonders if we can be insured against pop economists promising financial nirvana as well as financial market instability.

Technology: Dean for President
Paul Smith looks at how the internet is helping one Democrat candidate to the front of the primary pack

International: Rangoon Rumble
Union Aid Abroad's Marj O'Callaghan looks at Australia's weak response to developments in Burma.

Education: Blackboard Jungle
Lifelong learning shouldn�t mean cutting jobs, but that's exactly what the Carr Government is proposing, argues Tony Brown

Review: From Weakness to Strength
Labor Council crime-fighter Chris Christodoulou catches up with his boyhood hero, the Incredible Hulk

Poetry: Downsized
Resident bard David Peetz pens the song the Industrial Relations Commission needed to hear


The Soapbox
Cleaning Up
Rabbi Laurie Coskey from San Diego adds her voice to the global campaign for just for cleaners in Westfield malls.

The Locker Room
The Name In The Game
In an age of the sportsperson as celebrity it seems that names are overtaking the games, writes Phil Doyle.

The Beach
Southern Thailand�s terrorist activities: facts or fiction asks HT Lee


A Recipe for Conflict
Without making any excuses, Tony Abbott�s hand wringing at this week�s airing of a secret video of picket line violence was a bit like watching Don King condemn boxing.


 Aussie Workers Cradle-Snatched

 Morris McMahon Workers Say Thanks

 Violence: Emerson Fingers Abbott

 Cowboys Face Contracts Ban

 TUTA Rises From the Ashes

 Teased Teachers Fight Back

 Labor Fails TAFE Test

 Coke Called on to Stop the Rot

 Bridgestone Drops Doughnut on Workers

 AIRC Locked in Dark Ages

 Maternity Breakthrough in Hotels

 Labour Rights: Even Bush is Better!

 Long Winter for Seasonal Workers

 Activist Notebook

 A Tribute to Brian Miller
 Orange Peel
 After the Accident
 Cuba - the Debate Continues
 Old Ted
 Greetings from Japan
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Bad Boss

In the Pooh

What do you give a boss who makes his workers labour in raw sewage? A nomination for the Tonys.


The dead hand of Tony Abbott's Building Industry Taskforce has been identified in a Sydney formwork company's sacking of the only two union members among its 10-strong workforce.

But it's not just the dismissals, nor their callous manner, that makes Taskforce-backed PTV - Peter, Tom and Victor - this month's Bad Boss nominee.

It is fair to say, that since the two CFMEU members joined its crew, the operation has stunk.

The pair worked for a week at a site in Rosehill St, Redfern, undermined by torrents of sewage from an adjacent apartment building.

"We're not talking a couple of cupfuls," disgusted organiser, Russell Cunningham explains, "we're talking barrels and barrels of turds."

The workers had to walk through the three-metre wide stream of offensive matter until the CFMEU and Workcover called a halt to procedings. But it wasn't experienced formworker, Malcolm McLean, or his off-sider, Danny, who blew the whistle.

The union was informed of the atrocious state of site by a resident, sick to death of the smell overwhelming the neighbourhood.

From there, the PTV crew was shifted to a building at Kent St in the city and told to work amongst broken asbestos sheets. When the union pointed out the danger/irresponsibility of that, just before the June long weekend, the pair was told to report back to Rosehill St on the Wednesday.

McLean takes up the story: "I got there about 10 past 6, I always arrive early, and the boss drove up. He said - what are you doing here? You've been terminated.

"I couldn't believe it. They never told us to our faces or rang us at home. He said he had written a letter over the long weekend.

"Sure enough, later that day, it arrived in the post box. All I can think is, they thought we had potted them to the union but that wasn't true.

"I don't know what I will do. I've been working in the construction industry around Sydney for 30 years but I'm 55 years old and it's hard to get a job at my age."

Cunningham says the atmosphere in his negotiations with the sub-contractors PTV, builder Definitive Dimensions, and a third Redfern operator, Sublime, changed for the worse after the Building Industry Taskforce became involved.

Problems on that site, he said, had included Sublime operating without Workers Compensation cover; tax compliance, and health and safety issues, including the failure to carry out basic inductions.

"We were making progress when the Taskforce came down and gave them all this crook information on how they could beat the union. The approach changed, quite reasonable employers became hostile," Cunningham said.

"All of a sudden, the only two union guys on the site get the sack. These guys were innocent victims. They didn't even tip us off about the problems in the first place."

All PTV's retained workers were employed on Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) which require them to set up independent companies and deny them basic employee entitlements.

Workers from the Redfern job identified the Taskforce officers who injected themselves into the situation as - Greg Alford, a woman called Julie, and longtime anti-CFMEU activist John Copeland.

Cunningham said their presence had scuttled "promising" discussions about an EBA for the job.

Both McLean and his friend, recovering from a cancer operation, are now desperately looking for alternative work.

But as for the other stitch ups - safety, workers comp and tax rorts - nobody expects the Taskforce to follow through on any of them.

The CFMEU has lodged claims against PTV, seeking apologies and compensation for its two members.


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