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October 2003   

Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Rugby League Professionals Association president Tony Butterfield on his battle to deliver a collective agreement for NRL players.

Unions: National Focus
In this month’s national wrap: Noel Hester meets a heavy hitter talking up open source unionism, truckies front the suits at Boral’s AGM, tales of corporate bastardry and Medicare birthday revelry.

Industrial: Fools Gold
Unions have thrashed out a string of protocols with the NSW Labor Government. Some, now, are questioning whether they are worth the cheap, imported paper they are written on, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.

History: The Gong Show
In late September the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) celebrated 75 unbroken years championing the rights of workers in the coastal Illawarra region 80 kilometres south of Sydney, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics: The Hawke Legacy
The election of the Hawke Labor government twenty years ago holds some salient lessons for today’s Labor Party, writes Troy Bramston.

International: Sick Nation
As Australia celebrates 20 years of Medicare’s universal health coverage the crisis facing American workers in need of medical care is a useful reminder of what we’ve got – and what we stand, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Closed Minds
Philip Mendes looks at the political influence of right-wing think tanks, their financial backing and asks why the left hasn’t been able to get its ideas out there.

Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

Poetry: One Size Fits All
There once was a man from the Lodge - Who tried hard, our poems, to dodge... Resident bard David Peetz is back!


North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Soapbox
The $140 Million Patriot
It would be hard to imagine a steeper slide from hero to zero than the experience of Richard Grasso, the now-deposed head of the New York Stock Exchange. writes Jim Stanford.

Bush's Bad News Blues
The Bush Administration is cooking up a new campaign 'to shine light on progress made in Iraq', writes Bill Berkowitz.

The Locker Room
A Tale Of One City
Phil Doyle gazes into the crystal ball for signs of life, and finds that somewhere the horses are running in the wrong direction.

With Banners Furled
There is no better account of the glory that was the annual Labour Day marches than that given by Kylie Tennant in Foveaux, her fictional account of life in inner Sydney in 1912, the year she was born.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite Macquarie Street MP, Ian West MLC, reports on the world of NSW politics.

The Cancun Wash-Up
The dramatic collapse of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month has been followed by a deafening quiet from Geneva, Brussels and Washington, writes Peter Murphy.


The Monk Off Our Back
It should come as no surprise that Tony Abbott has been dragged from his workplace relations portfolio just as his $60 million assault on the CFMEU finally unravels.


 Concrete Boot for Democracy

 Picketers Get Blue Ribbon Result

 ICAC Call at Mudgee Abattoir

 Telstra on Charges

 Unis Walk Over Federal Bullying

 IRC Shoots Rooster that Quacked

 Ugly Australian Riles Timorese

 Medicare Gets Abbott For Birthday

 Business Council Opposes Salary Vote

 Rail Workers Call For Self Defence

 ACT Leads On Industrial Manslaughter

 Thumbs-Up for Awards Binding Subbies

 Entitlements Crash into Hangar

 Blackouts on NSW Horizon

 State Govt Told To Clean Up Contracts

 Would-be Presidents Face Union Probe

 Activists Notebook

 A Hard Act To Follow
 Which Boss?
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Bad Boss

Bones of Contention

By Ji m Marr

Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.


Sunnybrand Chickens is denying employees holidays, long service, sick leave, super and other entitlements in a bid to beat its workers compensation obligations.

The effort has pitched the Byron Bay operation, which processes poultry for Woolworths and Leonards, into a Bad Boss Nomination.

Sunnybrand's efforts provoked a two-day strike by 40 chicken boners unhappy at being told to pay for the privilege of taking over their own workers comp premiums.

The process has been marked by subterfuge since construction work began on a hew boning shed att Bungalow, on the road to Lismore.

When a livewire AMIEU delegate tumbled to what was going on, subterfuge turned to straight out dishonesty, with Sunnybrand denying any intention to bone out of the new facility.

Assistant manager, Robyn Holloway, repeated the fib when she was asked, face-to-face, by Meatworkers Union representatives in April.

When Windle and union officials again floated their question, on June 5, the workers comp dodge raised its head. Holloway didn't beat about the bush, saying the company was concerned about legislative changes that meant it would no longer be able to classify employees under other, less expensive, occupations.

It was in June that the Australian Independent Contractors Association (AICA) made its present felt. AICA, headed-up by former AWU official Steve Harrison, makes its money by transforming wage workers into "independent contractors". The process is promoted to employers sick of paying entitlements and meeting other legal obligations.

Responding, the Meatworkers Union filed dispute notification with the NSW IRC on July 1. Efforts at conciliation failed and, despite its denials, Sunnybrand opened Bungalow with boners purporting to be independent contractors in August.

When the IRC ordered an end to the resulting strike, on the basis that the situation return to the status quo, Sunnybrand kept boning out of Bungalow and workers responded by staying away for two more days.

The Bungalow operation is costing Byron Bay workers money as well as jobs. Their tally rates have been slashed to the point where where average weekly wage packets have shrunk by around $300.

The Meatworkers Union argues the "contracting" relationship is a sham because work at Bungalow is provided and directed by Sunnybrand or its agents.

They are seeking lost wages in the IRC, and the substantive case about the status of Bungalow boners is set down for hearing this month.

Just last week, the company upped the stakes, blocking entry when a union organiser tried to carry out a health and safety inspection at Bungalow under terms of the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Tony Abbott may have been moved out of the Workplace Relations portfolio but his immortal words in defence of Bad Bosses live on in the actions of companies like Sunnybrand.


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