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Issue No. 131 12 April 2002  

Cry Freedom
If there's a common thread running through this week's issue, it's the continuing crisis faced by workers around the globe confronting the practical reality of Free Trade.


Interview: Cross Wires
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance chief Chris Warren surveys the fluid state of the Australian media.

International: Two Tribes
As the Middle East burns, Andrew Casey shines a light into one of the world's darkest corners.

Activists: Beneath the Veil
A young Afghani woman has travelled to Australia to put a human face on the suffering of her people - and her gender.

Unions: Terror Australis
When push comes to shove, it appears the Howard Government is more scared of the Maritime Union than Osama Bin Laden, Jim Marr reports.

History: A Labor Footnote To The Royal Funeral
Stephen Holt reports that an intriguing Australian connection has been overlooked amidst the supposedly blanket media coverage of the end of the Bowes Lyon era.

Economics: Private Affluence, Public Rip-Off
New Labour's enthusiasm for business is matched only by its lack of business sense, as the private finance fiasco shows.

Review: The Great Hall of the People
In an extract from the latest issue of Labor Essays, the ARM's Richard Fidler looks at the symbolism behind the Republican debate.

Poetry: Waiting for the Living Wage
The Living Wage Case was heard this week. The workers� voices in this poem have been adapted from the evidence presented by low wage earners to the living wage case.

Satire: Israel Recruits NAB To Close West Bank
Israeli security forces have successfully enlisted the expert help of the National Australia Bank to close down the West Bank.


 Baby Company Punts Netball Mum

 Dairy Workers Win Global Breakthrough

 Treasury Modelling Backs ACTU Claim

 Bank Nabs Huge Sales Targets

 Come Clean � Insurance Giants Challenged

 May Day Jam and Toast

 Job Security Win For Cabin Crew

 Workers Gear-up For Pollution Fight

 Shuffling The Deck On The Yarra

 New Push On Workplace Crime

 Super Child Care Win

 Doubts Over Ettalong Wharf Funding

 The Sane Monk Stands Down

 Fabians Debate Refugees

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Unions and the Web � Where to Now?
Peter Lewis argues the time has come to revisit how trade unions interact with workers and how the Web could be the catalyst for such a change.

The Locker Room
Free To Where?
Parents with kiddies who play a bit of sport will have noticed the escalating costs associated with their kids being involved in sport.

Week in Review
The Joys of the Chop
Workers come and workers go, right? Well, it�s the way of the world but while some get stiffed, others are stuffed with obscene amounts �

 Labor and Unions - What About the Workers?
 A Voice for the Shareholders
 Noses in the Trough
 Bugger Off
 Memo: Carmen Lawrence
 Police: Make the Boss a Woman
 Baby Faced Brogden
 Workers Online - Aoteroa
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Week in Review

The Joys of the Chop

Workers come and workers go, right? Well, it�s the way of the world but while some get stiffed, others are stuffed with obscene amounts �


Police Commissioner Peter Ryan hands in his badge and collects, wait for it, $425,000 for failing to complete his contract.

It's all politics you see. Two elections ago, Premier Bob Carr wheeled his English import from one corner of the state to the other, telling voters he was the face of law and order's future.

Now Carr's Government, facing a violent crime blowout just a year out from another poll, is relieved and grateful to line Ryan's escape route with dollars - yours and mine.

..... ..... ......

We might think Ryan's on a bloody good wicket but, at the end of the day, he's a public servant and doesn't really rate when it comes to seriously corrupting the value of money. The week's papers are full of how Jodee Rich and Brad Keeling make it an art form but, whoah, what about those Yanks?

Ford shells out $39.9 million to get rid of chief executive Jac Nasser, now that's what you call a goodbye kiss with tongue!

Australian Nasser earns his send-off by presiding over massive job cuts, a $10 billion loss and 31 percent drop in share value. Imagine what he could have got if he had stuck around long enough to achieve bankruptcy.

It's all explained by Ed Crowder from executive recruitment firm, Crowder and Co: "It's enormously hard for people to understand the pure magnitude of these enormous packages people get for failing.

"But when you're doing senior level executive searches, these are the kinds of packages candidates are asking about upfront," Crowder says.

..... ..... ......

Rumours have it that Colin Powell is still US Secretary of State but, as bodies pile up in Jenin, Ramallah and across the West Bank, he does a remarkable impersonation of a backpacker.

Powell flits in and out of Egypt, Morocco and even Spain, as Israeli forces smash through Palestinian communities, on a bizarrely circuitous route to the source of problem.

At least one world leader he encounters en route is moved to ask, and we paraphrase, what's the guts?

...... ..... ......

Closer to home the NAB, one of those banks with a chief exec on a recruitment company-style contract, tips another 2000 Australians out of work and closes down an additional 56 branches.

It's all part of a plan to dump 6000 workers and limit service to customers - the twin guarantors of success, apparently, in a shareholder-driven economy.

The sackings and branch closures come hard on the heels of the NAB doing $4 billion on a US investment punt, an amount that would have paid every sacked worker their wages and entitlements for more than 30 years.

You'd think we might have heard something from the allegedly rort-averse Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott. But no, nary a peep.

Not surprising, perhaps, given his Government is dudding sacked Ansett workers to the tune of $187 million, and rising. That's the entitlement shortfall his Government admits, prior to the final round of redundancies.

..... ...... ......

One bloke entitled to be job-hunting is Abbott's off-sider Alexander Downer.

The Foreign Affairs Minister's people play key roles in watering down a UN resolution aimed at increasing pressure on Burma's military junta.

The European Union had proposed a strongly-worded resolution to the UN Human Rights Commission but Australia demanded it be toned down as the price of support.

The original draft condemned lack of progress on restoring democracy and specified rights abuses, including child and forced labour.

One European diplomat says Australia's doggedness over the resolution "caused a lot of surprise" while a regional human rights group said Australia had become an "overt defender of the Burmese military regime".

..... ...... ......

And, finally, Britain's Queen Mother sinks her last gin and turns up her toes, requiring only a 101 gun salute and state funeral. Cheap, by today's standards.


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