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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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Shonky Bosses Get Contract Brush

A 15-month Labor Council campaign has fenced off another chunk of the NSW economy from employers seeking to drive down wages and conditions.

Council secretary John Robertson and Public Works Minister Morris Iemma this week signed off on a Memorandum of Understanding that will make it tougher for shonky bosses to participate in the lucrative race to supply goods and services to state government

Contracting, in some sectors, has become a synonym for rorts, from slashing wages and avoiding tax and compo payments, to discriminating against people with union affiliations.

Those worst-case scenarios are repudiated by the memorandum formally recognising unions "as the representative body of employees".

It gives effect to that by providing rights to enter workplaces and inspect records, as well as banning victimisation of union members.

The memorandum binds the Department to deal only with operators who comply with the code and sets out enforcement responsibilities.

State-Sponsored Sweated Labour

Council deputy assistant secretary, Chris Christodoulou, drove the agreement from its formative stages.

He said the memorandum, expected to apply to tens of thousands of people employed in occupations such as cleaning, security, couriers, IT and garment manufacture, had its genesis in the discovery of sweated labour at firms holding state government clothing contracts.

Unions pooled resources and experiences to develop a draft which was reshaped over 15 separate meetings with departmental officials.

By the middle of last year enough ground had been made to involve the minister.

Unions, including the LHMU, TCFUA and TWU, re-caucused over the practicalities of monitoring its implementation, then put their proposals before peak industry bodies.

The arrangement supplements another, covering off the NSW building industry, and seems certain to be used as a template for protocols with the RTA and local governments.

Plans to erect fences around those sectors are underway with Labor Council likely to put the acid on at least 12 Sydney-based councils in the near future.

"The key part of the exercise is to get out and organise in those companies the Government deals with," Christodoulou said. "From here, it has to be monitored and driven by rank and file members in their workplaces

"What the memorandum does is remove a significant impediment to doing that. You would think that bona fide companies wouldn't be going in to slash wages or exhibit anti-union tendencies but, unfortunately, that has not always been the case."


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