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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
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Dairy Workers Win Global Breakthrough

The IUF has sealed a groundbreaking global agreement with a New Zealand-based dairy multinational, employing hundreds of Australians.

The Fonterra agreement is the first committing an Asia-Pacific based multi-national to respect key ILO principles, including freedom of association, the right to organise and bargain collectively, wherever it operates.

Currently, the world's fourth-largest dairy operation, Fonterra is active in in 40 countries, employing more than 20,000 workers predominantly in North and South America, Asia and the Pacific.

LHMU national secretary Jeff Lawrence says the agreement is an important step in dealing with some of the more harmful effects of globalisation.

"Unions like ours are constantly dealing with global employers and we see this as a quantum leap forward in protecting workers," Lawrence says.

"It means our members in relatively small, isolated, rural centres - such as Brunswick Junction in Western Australia - have some new muscle to protect themselves, their families and their communities."

The new agreement also prohibits the company using child or forced labour and requires Fonterra to provide unions with relevant information and consult before making business decisions likely to cause job losses.

It has been hailed at the most comprehensive global agreement ever signed between a multinational and its unions.

The agreement - which took four years to negotiate - provides for open dialogue with local unions.

New Strengths>

That open dialogue provides new strengths and certainties to workers employed by a global entity - but normally weakened in negotiating ability by isolation and distance from the international head office" Lawrence explains.

"Our membership employed by global giants, but living in isolated regional areas, often feels, quite correctly, it is ignored by the real decision makers," Lawrence says.

"Through this important agreement the company has committed itself to wide-ranging consultation with our members - especially if they shut down a plant or cut back their workforce."

Fonterra-owned Peters and Brownes dominates the dairy industry in Western Australia.

With a turnover of $NZ7 billion a year, it holds significant stakes in other Australian dairy operations, including Bonlac and National Foods. Part of the agreement commits it to informing partner companies of its labour obligations.


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