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Issue No. 128 15 March 2002  

Why I'm Marching
If you haven’t guessed already, I'm no Labor apparatchik. In fact my entry into politics was through the old Nuclear Disarmament Party.


Interview: The Wedge Buster
Labor's immigration spokeswoman Julia Gillard talks about her job of developing policy to blunt Howard's wedge.

History: Fighting for Peace
Was the first Palm Sunday parade a celebration or a protest, asks Neale Towart.

Unions: Rattling the Gates
When Pacific Power workers traveled from Newcastle to Macquarie Street this week life-long loyalties were on the line, as Jim Marr reports.

International: Facing Retribution
Serious fears are growing for the safety of Zimbabwean trade unionists after the tainted election defeat of their former leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Technology: How Korean Workers Used The Web
Electrical power industry workers in Korea are relying on the internet, and mobile phones, to successfully organise a militant nation-wide anti-privatisation strike.

Industrial: Working Futures
Can an assortment of economists, lawyers, historians, industrial relations specialists, unionists, journalists, sociologists and psychologists help us develop a decent future for work and social relations in Australia?

Review: Rumble, Young Man, Rumble
To compress the full and exhilarating life of The Greatest to film-length is no easy task but Ali makes a reasonable fist of the job writes Noel Hester.

Satire: GG Survival Doomed: Fox-Lew In Charge Of Rescue Bid
The hopes of embattled Governor-General Dr Peter Hollingworth took a battering last night, after he learnt that the rescue bid for his survival is being headed up by Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew.

Poetry: PSST
From Sue Robinson to Michael Kirby, some things in politics are constant...only the names have been changed to defame the innocent.


 Girl's Maiming Sparks Entry Plea

 More Time Off for Babies

 Workers Break Bank Cartel

 State Law Push For Virgin Sites

 Outrage at Privatisation by Decree

 Woomera - Flames, Razors, Rope and Despair

 Bus Drivers Block ALP Funds

 Crean Gets on Front Foot

 Nurses, Teachers On The Money

 Asset-Stripping Sparks Walk-Out

 Opposition Grows Over Howard's Freedom Attack

 Heffernan Prompts ‘Right of Reply’ Demands

 Della Dumps Dunny Blues

 Smith Flies Into Turbulence

 Guards Force Drinks Break

 Levy Struck to Support Rockhampton Meatworkers

 ACTU Assists former Ansett Staff

 Activist News


The Soapbox
The War on Terror - Impunity for Abuses?
Federal Labor MP Duncan Kerr argues that governments are using the fears of the post-Septmeber 11 environment for thier own ends.

The Locker Room
Oh, The Humanity!
So, sports people are human after all. Now there’s a headline.

Week in Review
Tomorrow, The World
Jim Marr picks over the entrails of a week in which world domination, or at least hegemony over that part of it in which the principal operates, is a recurring theme.

 Carr and the Fire Fighters
 On Inequality
 Harmony Day
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Girl's Maiming Sparks Entry Plea

Unions are demanding immediate right of entry provisions in the wake of a 10-year-old girl being mutilated in a Sydney sweatshop.

Textile Clothing and Footwear Union secretary, Barry Tubner, says the case of Yu Ge will be presented to the Carr Government as unions argue for immediate entry rights as part of the five-year review of the NSW Industrial Relations Act.

Tubner says the restoration of immediate entry rights is the only protection against a repetition of the human tragedy in which a youngster had half her right hand and thumb amputated after being caught in a machine at premises operated by River Island Clothing Ltd.

Yu Ge also suffered damage to her right foot, reducing sensation and limiting the growth of her calf in the accident that occurred in 1999 but has only now made it to the courts.

"It is obvious that when you are required to give 24-hours notice you are never going to find a 10-year-old working a sewing machine," Tubner says.

"The Department of Industrial Relations and Workcover deal with things after the event but the real issue is prevention. The only organisation able and prepared to deal with that is the trade union movement but entry restrictions leave us handcuffed.

"Vulnerable immigrants, and their children, are the losers.

Right of Acess

Theoretically, unions have immediate access on health and safety grounds but, in practice, these rely on rare tip-offs. They cannot enter sweatshops on the off-chance safety regulations are being abused.

A recent NSW State Government Sweat Shop Taskforce uncovered a string of clothing industry rorts. Health and safety top a list which also features bodgy wage and personnel records; and persistent evasion of superannuation and workers compensation payments.

David Tritton, a TCFU official who worked on the Taskforce, explains the practical difficulties.

"There are operations in Sydney I visited as a union official, giving 24 hours notice, who presented wage records showing six employees. When we visited those same places with the Taskforce, which had immediate access, we found 20 and more people on the sewing machines.

"These people cover their tracks. Give 24 hours notice and you will find workers, machines and records all gone."

Tritton says besides immediate entry there must be a requirement to keep records on the premises if governments are serious about health and safety, and rooting out child labour.

Five Year Review

Prompted by Taskforce discoveries, immediate access is a key Labor Council submission to the State Government's five-year review of industrial law. Those submissions closed on December 21 and the council is yet to hear anything from the Department of Industrial Relations or minister, John Della Bosca.

Yu Ge won't get her hand, her sport or her dexterity back but her family is looking for some level of justice through the legal system..

Traumatised by their daughter's disfigurement the family plans a new life in New Zealand. Even those dreams are in disarray after the system failed to come up with a judge when the case was listed for hearing in Sydney this week.

Yu Ge v River Island Clothing is rescheduled for June.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the best his organisation can do for Yu Ge is convince government that similar incidents should not happen again.


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