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March 2004   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: Baby Bust
Labor's Wayne Swan argues that the plight of our aging workforce is only one side of our demographic dilemma.

Safety: Dust To Dust
Failure by authorities to police safety in the asbestos removal industry is threatening the lives of members of the public, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

International: Bulk Bullies
An extraordinary five month struggle over affordable health care, by nearly 70,000 Californian supermarket workers, has just come to an end, writes Andrew Casey.

History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Green Bans saved a piece of bush before they saved much of the Sydney’s built environment, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Tim Anderson reveals Australia’s second betrayal Of East Timor is playing out before our eyes.

Review: The Art Of Work
Workers and westies are being celebrated as the cultural icons they are thanks to two Sydney exhibitions reminding us there is a world of art in the everyday, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Wondering where the next porkie is going to come from? Resident bard David Peetz knows.

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Iraq and Your Mortgage
How high interest rates go will be a key issue in 2004 and if you are looking for a clue, there's no better place to look than the war in Iraq, writes Michael Rafferty.

Sport
Hang Onto the Day Job
Show someone else the money, says Phil Doyle.

Politics
Westie Wing
Ian West shows why Eveleigh Street’s not so far away from Macquarie Street

Postcard
Don’t Give Up the Fight
Get Up, Stand Up is the logo of choice on a popular range of subversive condoms. Ken Davis from Union Aid Abroad reports from Zimbabwe’s second city

E D I T O R I A L

Be Afraid
Elections are to be held both here and with our controlling shareholder this year and already we are getting the feel for how the incumbents will attempt to cling onto power: fear spiced with loathing.

N E W S

 Taskforce "Disgraced" in Court

 Students Take $10,000 Trim

 Truckers Lose Way With GPS

 Jockeys Down by Width of Strait

 Treasury Loses Sight of Trees

 Athens Built on Sweat

 Signing Away Safety

 Fallen Formworker Critical

 Stop or You’ll Stay Blind

 Bracks Spin Machine Towels Nurses

 Trade Deal Fuzzy on Content

 Good Will Still Hunting on Rail

 Developer "Monsters" Safety Cop

 Day Off for May Day

 Activists What's On!

L E T T E R S
 Bring Back Bulk Billing
 Crucifying Refugees
 Saving The Planet
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Bad Boss

Shaming in Print


Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

They will put the acid on Alan David to front up with $1 million still owed to employees of his last operation, David Graphics, and demand changes to corporate law that would stop employers changing company set-ups to evade their debts.

David Graphics was wound-up last November, owing $9.7 million, more than a million of it to 70 redundant workers who found their super contributions, salary sacrifices and even payments to keep up private medical insurance schemes had vanished into the bowels of the company.

David Graphics went into voluntary administration on November 17, 2003, but just seven days later a new entity, Digital Graphics Communication, emerged onto the Sydney printing scene.

Digital Graphics Communication is owned by Alan David's partner and his daughter. It is managed by John Coates, formerly the manager of its ill-fated predecessor, and employs none other than Alan David, himself, as a consultant.

It began life operating out of the same building, occupied seven days earlier by David Graphics, contracting to the same clients.

Sound suspicious?

Well, when David Graphics went belly-up the only thing of value the administrator could lay his hands on was its "work in progress". This was sold for $350,000, approximately the amount of disappeared super contributions, to none other than Digital Graphics Communication.

The AMWU is kicking up merry hell, demanding changes to corporate law that will prevent directors closing down a business and leaving employees out of pocket, only to open under another guise, minus their debts.

"Accountants call it asset protection but our members have another name for it," AMWU Print Division secretary, Amanda Perkins, told Workers Online.

Fortunately, the story is not one of unmitigated disaster. Its one bright light was the placement of five of David Graphics' six apprentices in other jobs around town where they will be able to complete their time. But that was down to the efforts of AMWU delegates and activists, and had nothing to do with the company.

AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, is sick of seeing companies going to the wall, taking workers and their families with them.

He is critical of ASIC, the business regulator, which repeatedly tells his members it can do nothing about the disappearance of their monies.

Usually, the regulator declines to take action because, it says, it is insufficiently resourced to pursue company directors.

The AMWU wants a three-pronged change to commercial law to ensure employers meet some of their obligations. It advocates ...

- reversing the onus of proof on directors of companies that go bust, making it encumbent on them to demonstrate they have discharged their responsibilities before being allowed to pursue other directorships

- transferring liabilities to associated entities that continue to trade

- using industry trust funds to protect entitlements as they accrue

Bastian describes as a "nonsense" the current insistence that broke workers, rather than regulators, pursue errant directors through the legal system.

When Metro Shelf went bust last year, taking millions in entitlements, the union's legal advice was that it would have cost upwards of $2 million to pursue that company's directors and, odds were, the process would have taken years.

Alan David has been nominated for the Tony Award, struck to ensure the anti-worker activities of former Workplace Relations Minister are not forgotten.


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