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Issue No. 124 15 February 2002  

Chickens Come Home
For anyone who believes in karma, the events of the summer show how bad Australia's is right now.


Unions: Winning the Heartland
John Robertson unveils new research on attitudes to refugees and argues it's time for unions to mount their own propaganda war.

Interview: Swan's Song
Federal ALP front-bencher Wayne Swan expands on his ideas for rebuilding the Party in the wake of the Tampa election.

Corporate: Lessons from Enron
Jim Marr looks at the shock-waves the collapse of a US corporate heavy-weight are having around the globe.

Politics: What We Did Last Summer
We look back over a summer when it all went pear-shaped. Some events, at home and abroad, look set to have ongoing ramifications.

History: Solidarity in Song
Mark Gregory looks back on the annals of labour songs and offers some hints for those planning a tilt at the Labor Council's worker anthem comp.

International: A Tale of Two Cities
New York and Port Alegre are poles apart � but they both played host to important conferences on the future of globalisation over the summer.

Poetry: Nobody Told Me
Labour academic David Peetz commits the Prime Minister's current woes to verse.

Review: Labor and the Rings
Tolkien�s epic tale provides a timely reminder that that there are forces of good and evil in the world � and that they are not necessarily where we expect to find them, writes Michael Gadiel.

Satire: Rafter Named Bermudan Of The Year For Tax Purposes
Australian of the Year Pat Rafter was last night also named Bermudan of the Year, in a simple ceremony held in Bermuda's Parliament.


 Unions' Commit to Battle for Hearts

 Carr on Notice - Expectations Up

 Mad Monk Sides With Angels � Briefly

 Maritime Union Acts on Spy Scandal

 May Day Play-Off for Workers' Anthem

 Burmese Links Shroud Winter Olympics

 New Phone Venture One.Tel In Drag

 Two Million Face Rights Downgrade

 Enron Collapse Hits Share-Owner Agenda

 Corrrigan Snaps Up Rail Bargain

 Kinko Clowns With Workers' Rights

 MPs Face Security Checks

 Telstra's Tragic Delays Of Its Own Making

 Burrow Puts Case to World Economic Forum

 Shangri La Protests Hit Melbourne

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Chinks in the Armour
The ACTU's Michael Crosby argues that Mark Latham's attack on the Labor for Refugees movement is the betrayal of Party values.

The Locker Room
Off-side in Korea?
With the World Cup set to kick off in a matter of months, South Korea's treatment of unions is under the microscope.

Week in Review
Cloak and Dagger
In the first of what will be a regular column, we place the week's labour news into a nutshell.

 In Whose Interests?
 'International Labour's Year in Review' - A Re-View
 Belly's Broad-Side
 Collins Gets Cryptic
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Week in Review

Cloak and Dagger

In the first of what will be a regular column, we place the week's labour news into a nutshell.

Natasha Stott-Despoja



South Australian voters sent mixed messages through an indecisive state poll. Labor picked up ground on the ruling Liberals, in terms of votes, but looked to have fallen a couple of seats shy of being able to form a Government in its own right. Nataha Stott-Despoja's Democrats were the big losers as their vote imploded. Labor leader Mike Rann didn't rule out the possibility of a hung parliament and warned that time-consuming recounts were highly likely in closely-contested seats. By the end of the week, however, independent Peter Lewis (no relation) had emerged as king-maker and indicated he would help Labor to control of every state and territory for the first time in history.


Up North, the AMWU pulled the chain on Mount Isa Mines for its policy of operating cameras in the toilets of its drug testing facility. The AMWU objected to contracted drugs tester, Western Diagnostics, installing permanent cameras in positions where they could record close-up film of male and female workers urinating. The AMWU called the set-up "drugs testing gone mad" and demanded removal of the offending equipment.


Musicians struck a promising chord with prominent Sydney Morning Herald coverage for their latest union recruitment campaign. Newly-elected NSW secretary, Richard Roule, told the paper less-established musicians had little bargaining power against recording companies, hotels and other entertainment industry heavyweights. Roule, a drummer with 80s chart-toppers the Dynamic Hepnotics, is targeting a new generation of performers in a bid to drag the union "kicking and screaming into the 21st century".


MUA officials found themselves centre stage in another Peter Reith scandal when Sydney's Daily Telegraph claimed Government had spied on them during last year's MV Tampa stand-off. Conversations between MUA officials and the Tampa's skipper, Arne Rinnan, were intercepted by the Federal Government's spy agency at Geraldton and passed to the office of then Defence Minister, Reith. The Government used information from the private conversations to develop a political response that turned into a key election vote-winner, the paper reported. Subsequent denials by John Howard, Phillip Ruddock et al were published on the same day that their porkies on the "children overboard" scandal were exposed. Clearly unimpressed, the ICFTU representing 157 million trade unionists in 148 countries, pronounced itself "deeply disturbed" in a letter to Howard.


NEW Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, attempted to match his predecessor by labeling legislative changes that would remove unfair dismissal rights from millions of Australian workers, the Fair Dismissal Bill. In legal jargon, Abbott seeks to prevent "small business employees from applying under the Workplace Relations Act for a remedy in respect of harsh, unjustified or unreasonable termination of employment". Abbott opted for an all-spin attack by claiming, without evidence, the change could create 53,000 new jobs, despite a recent Federal Court finding which said, in part, "there has been much assertion on this topic during recent years, but apparently no effort to ascertain the factual situation". A reasonable effort from a tyro but pale by comparison with a resume featuring fibs that drove goons-on-the-wharves, children overboard and the celebrated Telecard Affair.


NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson labeled polling that revealed widespread support for Government's mandatory detention policies as an "opportunity to challenge racism". Robertson was opening his organisation's Workplace Harmony campaign in Sydney. The line was developed by University of NSW lecturer in workplace relations, Sarah Gregson, who challenged the "myth" that labour had dragged the chain on migrant issues to the point of being the backbone for discredited White Australia policies. She used stirring examples of unity across race and religion, from Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie, to underline her point. Academics Martin Loosemore and Kevin Dunn presented new research while Naomi Steer used UNHCR figures to show Australia lagging well behind other developed countries in refugee arrivals. Batoul Jayyousi from Sydney's Malek Fhad Islamic School, with a role of 1700 pupils, talked about the effects on students and parents of reactions to September 11. She criticised press and politicians for whipping up anti-Islamic sentiment but thanked other schools, public and private, for messages of support signed by pupils and teachers.


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