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August 2003   

Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month�s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.


The Secret Life of Us
The fact that casual workers are too scared to come forward and testify about the need for job security seems to prove their basic point � no matter how long or how well you work, you can never feel safe in your job.


 Tough Women Draw Line at Sacking

 Witness Protection Urged on IRC

 Max Swings Axe at Safety

 Sick Twist in Drug Testing

 Sacked Mum Goes to the Top

 Cuts Sour ADB Birthday Bash

 Howard Enlists Russians for Military

 Vic Workcover Invests in Worker Misery

 Public Hole in Power Shortage

 Whistleblower Sacking Sparks Zoo Walkout

 Truckie With Conscience Wins Back Job

 Indigenous Labour honours Tobler

 Asbestos Blocks Liverpool Road Works

 Activist Notebook

 Bullies in the Ranks
 It Is Still About The Members Isn't It
 Tom's Purpose
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Bad Boss

Domm, Domm Turn Around

By Jim Marr

Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month�s Bad Boss nominee.


A Tony Award, named in recognition of Tony Abbott's anti-worker attributes, would be fitting for the first council in NSW to run with the Workplace Relations Minister's campaign to move employees into a Federal system offering inferior protections.

Sydney City went down that track mid-2002, trying to shift workers out of NSW jurisdiction with an EBA that would have entrenched competitive tendering and sidelined their union, the MEU.

When workers rolled that initiative, Sydney City jumped on Abbott's inferior balloting requirements, to try again but failed again.

Next, by way of welcome, it tried to dud 400 former South Sydney workers of sick leave entitlements. The Sartor-Domm cash grab was worth between five and six million dollars.

The MEU took this case to the IRC which ruled, in line with a string of assurances from people in high places, that holiday entitlements should not be altered.

Not long after, Lord Mayor Sartor rediscovered long-dormant Labor sympathies to bags a seat at Bob Carr's ministerial table.

Domm, briefly an official with the MUA, recovered no such hidden memories and, if anything, the attacks grew more pointed.

The HR man is noted for his physical, personally aggressive approach to the job. His most recent effort has come in the guise of a Patrick-style assault on 16 garbos transferred over from Leichhardt and South Sydney when Sydney City gobbled chunks of those municipalities in May.

Sydney City used hundreds of thousands of ratepayers dollars to train up a squad of potential strike breakers from a body hire company, whilst endeavouring to slash conditions the 16 had enjoyed with their previous employers.

It boils down to the garbos still cleaning their parts of the city on the "job and finish" system common to rubbish collectors. The productivity-based arrangement recognises they work as a team, rather than individuals, actually running their routes to minimise peak hour disruptions to traffic flow.

Domm, though, doesn't like "job and finish" and has chosen to ignore Ministers of Local Government, the Governor of NSW and the Industrial Relations Commission in his bid to shelve the practise.

How so? Well, at the time of Sydney City's expansion, workers received a personal assurance from then Minister Harry Woods that their terms and conditions would not be changed to their detriment for at least three years. This was reinforced when NSW Governor Marie Bashir proclaimed the new boundaries, and repeated by current Minister Tony Kelly.

Not good enough for Domm, though. He's been deducting unworked hours from the garbos' weekly wages and has taken to threatening their jobs, via the institution of formal disciplinary procedures.

Recently, the case went before the industrial umpire. IRC deputy president Grayson said the Sydney City campaign should be put on hold while the issue was resolved by arbitration.

But Domm said "non" and kept doling out warnings, while refusing to dole out full weekly wage packets.

"Basically, he's said - stuff the Minister, stuff the Governor and stuff the Commission and gone about victimising these people," MEU legal officer Ben Kruse said.

"The disciplinary actions he has taken are a blatant step towards sacking these workers. On a number of occasions he has had labour hire people waiting outside the gates in the hope we would walk out.

"It's a campaign of provocation but our people have voted to comply with the Commissioner's recommendation and wait for arbitration."

Sydney City, and its man Domm, have joined an elite group of anti-worker activists in the running for the 2003 Award. The weight of money, though, still favours "Madam Lash", the lawyer behind the long-running Morris McMahon stand-off.


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