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Issue No. 133 26 April 2002  

The Struggle Continues
While the romantic image of May Day may be one of international struggle to establish a workers paradise, the reality is far more pragmatic and practical.


Interview: If The Commission Pleases
President Lance Wright marks the NSW Industrial Relations Commission's centenary with an exclusive interview with Workers Online.

History: Protest and Celebrate
Neale Towart scours the globe to discover the spirit of May Day online � the celebration of the eight-hour day.

Unions: A Novel Approach
A union office has been transformed into a library thanks to efforts to provide books for children in detention centres, reports Jim Marr.

Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
Close your eyes and the Mad Monk sounds like a Hare Krishna, but increasingly the world is tuning out from his mantra about IR reform, writes Noel Hester.

International: Never Forget Jenin
Trade unionist Sari Kassis argues the word 'Jenin' now defines Palestinian demands for justice.

Politics: Left Right Out In France
The results of the first round vote for the French presidency have led to mass protests and calls for national unity, Paul Howes reports.

Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Zoe Reynolds travelled to Cuba to discover how Australians are backing a ground-breaking child health project.

Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Tara de Boehmler stumbles upon a juicy trade union sub-plot in the popular GenX TV drama.

Poetry: May Day, May Day
Rapper Swarmy G is one of the finalists in our workers anthem comp with this ode to May Day.


 Shonky Bosses Get Contract Brush

 Kirby Bouquet for Equal Pay

 Deep Pocket Syndrome Stalks IRC

 Court Decision Threatens Thousands Of Jobs

 Safety Summit to Set Accident Targets

 Detention Centre Vets Song Lyrics

 Fat Sheep Dip Into Workers Pockets

 Government Con Drives SA Vehicle Blue

 Dead Worker�s Family Calls for Safety Crime Laws

 Netball Mum Bounces Back

 Aussie Agency Backs War Crimes Call

 Thumbs-up For Union Immigration Role

 May Day Rundown

 DOCS Worker Assaulted In Courthouse

 Queensland Unions Move on Youth Exploitation

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
A Humane Under-Belly
Presenting the annual Kingsley Laffer Lecture, Justice Michael Kirby argues that international human rights underpin Australian industrial law.

The Locker Room
The Hidden Culture of Indigenous Football
Brian McCoy argues that indigenous footballers do not just bring thier skills to the game, they bring their culture as well.

Of Shares and Options
It was a week when Rio Tinto faced its shareholders, Ford faced a backlash and a bid to cap US executive salaries failed.

Week in Review
The ANZAC Spirit?
Jim Marr wonders what the ANZACs would have said about our current treatment of the homeless and needy.

 French Connection
 Gold Star Student
 Time for a General Strike?
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Of Shares and Options

It was a week when Rio Tinto faced its shareholders, Ford faced a backlash and a bid to cap US executive salaries failed.

MPs Front Rio Meeting

TWO federal MPs have fronted Rio Tinto's shareholders meeting in Melbourne to demand an end to a protracted legal battle over the reinstatement of 206 sacked miners. The coal miners were sacked four years ago from Rio Tinto's Hunter Valley and Mt Thorley operations in NSW, and the Blair Athol mine in central Queensland.

The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) has made three separate rulings in favour of the miners being reinstated, but Rio Tinto has appealed against all three decisions. Capricornia MP Kirsten Livermore, whose central Queensland electorate includes the Blair Athol mine, Charlton MP Kelly Hoare, who represents the NSW miners, and NSW state MP Kerry Hickey used proxy votes to attend the shareholders meeting.

Uranium Mine on Hold

Meanwhile, mining at Rio Tinto's controversial Jabiluka uranium site will remain on hold until the traditional owners of the land endorse the project. Rio Tinto chairman Sir Robert Wilson said the company's position was clear - there will be no development at Jabiluka without the consent of the traditional owners. Sir Robert told Rio Tinto's AGM that the company was discussing environmental issues with the traditional owners of the Jabiluka site, the Mirrar people. Sir Robert's comments followed demands by shareholder Dave Sweeney, representing the Australian Conservation Foundation, that the company guarantee uranium mining would never be carried out at Jabiluka, in the Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park.

Ford Threatens To Use Imported Steel

While BHP has secured access to its US markets, it is facing pressure closer to home. Resentment over BHP Steel's proposed price rises has provoked Ford Australia into considering importing as much as $8 million of its needs. The struggling car maker yesterday unveiled its second consecutive operating loss and president Geoff Polites made it clear the proposed price rise was not welcome. About 18,000 of the 66,000 tonnes of steel used to make Falcons every year are supplied by BHP Steel. As much as half that volume - worth about $8 million - could be sourced elsewhere by a switch to imports.

Yallourn To Outsource Maintenance

Yallourn Energy is set to contract out its mine maintenance operations and retrench 50 maintenance workers from May 15. The future of mine maintenance staff has been at the centre of a three-year dispute at the power station which has seen the station close down twice during the critical summer period. Dean Mighell, Victorian secretary of the Electrical Trades Union said the company had no right to simply retrench excess workers. Mr Mighell said the contractors would not be able to introduce major cuts in pay and conditions for workers moving over from Yallourn Energy.

Jobs Under Threat At Optus

More jobs are set to go at Optus, Australia's second largest telephone company, as revenues in key divisions collapse. Up to 100 employees face the axe from the company next week, possibly as early as Tuesday. But Optus denies the number is that high, saying there was going to be a "change in employment" for about 60 employees, with 50 being offered new jobs within Optus.

Cuts As GE Giant Slows

In the US, General Electric plans to cut 7000 jobs and reduce expenses by about $US1 billion. The jobs will go from GE Capital, based in Stamford, Connecticut after a six per cent slowdown for the quarter. The slowdown "shocked a lot of people, and now they're responding to it by taking headcount out", said analyst Rich Turgeon of Victory Capital Management. "Why is growth slowing? It's a little disappointing."

General Electric shares have declined 14 per cent since Thursday, when the company said net income had fallen for the first time in more than seven years and first-quarter sales were little changed. The drop fed investor concern that profit growth is slowing at the world's largest company by market value.

Citigroup Severance Vote Fails

Citigroup Inc chairman Sanford Weill, who earned $US30.3 million last year has overcome a dissident shareholder move to limit executive severance payments after the biggest US bank said the plan would hurt recruitment.The proposal to require a shareholder vote for any pay for an ousted executive that exceeds three times annual compensation garnered 46.5 per cent of shareholder support. Shareholders, including SEIU Master Trust, proposed the measure after the collapse of Enron Corp fuelled investor concern that executives were putting their personal interests above shareholders. Former Citigroup co-chairman, John Reed, took away a $US30 million package plus $US5 million a year for life after he was forced out of the bank in 2000, according to the Journal of Accountancy. Bloomberg


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