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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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Mad Monk Sides With Angels … Briefly

A conversion of near-religious proportions saw Employment Minister, Tony Abbott, briefly touted as an unlikely witness for the ACTU’s reasonable hours case.

The CPSU considered testing the strength of Abbott’s born-again credentials after the Liberal Party head-kicker handed unexpected bouquets to public servants in a widely-circulated Canberra Times interview.

In a Damscus-like revelation Abbott told how six years experience had transformed his views.

"I was probably as susceptible to that kind of facile bureaucrat bashing as the next person," Abbott confessed. "But my experience of the Department of employment ... has given me a great respect and appreciation for the qualities of the Australian Public Service. I have become a complete convert to the strengths of our public service and have learnt to very much appreciate what it can do."

It was, however, Abbott's reference to the "simply phenomenal" hours worked by public servants that caught the eye of CPSU national secretary, Wendy Caird.

In her appearance before the Industrial Relations Commission, Caird argued that the loss of around 30,000 public service jobs over the last five years had led to an increase in dangerously long working hours.

"Because public servants are dedicated and professional the job gets done. But let's not forget this dedication often comes at a heavy price in terms of health and family life," Caird said.

The ACTU claim seeks to insert in the award system a standard of fairness about working hours and unhealthy roster patterns.

The peak union body says Australians work among the longest hours in the developed world and this has implications for safety, family life and and productivity.

The application is supported by the governments of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory but is being opposed by employer groups.

Informed Canberra sources said Abbott would be "a voice crying out in the wilderness" if he attempted to have the Federal Government added to that list.


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