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Issue No. 137 24 May 2002  

An Aussie Icon
The public deification of the Last Anzac, Alec Campbell, proves the adage that when you scratch the surface of an icon you'll invariably find a far more interesting reality.


Interview: Just Done It?
Nikewatch's Tim Connor gives his verdict on the global giant's latest innovation: ethics.

Tribute: Lest We Forget
Rowan Cahill goes looking for the real Alec Campbell and finds a story the Telegraph will not be publishing.

History: Solidarity Forever
Neale Towart looks at the enduring relationship between the union movement and the defence forces and finds it all comers down to solidarity.

Technology: Unblocking the Superhighway
Michael Gadiel argues the case for Open Standards as a way of breaking the grip of big business on the IT industry.

International: Gloves Off
Workers and their unions are facing a battering throughout South America as a wave of economic turmoil sweeps across the continent.

Unions: Out Of Work
Jim Marr travels to the frontline to witness the impact of the Howard Government's decision to close Employment National.

Review: Strange Business
Tara de Boehmler looks at a new flick that exposes the dark side of the Material World.

Poetry: The Lawyer's Lament
One of the big issues of recent weeks has been the explosion of insurance costs for public and community events, many of which have had to be cancelled as a result.

Satire: Government Mourns Loss Of Last Anzac
Treasurer Peter Costello has lamented the death of Alec Campbell, the last surviving ANZAC, bemoaning the lost revenue the government could have gained at his expense following the Budget.


 Workers Honour Radical Digger

 Retailers in Outworker Spotlight

 Nurses, Teachers Snare Agenda

 Syd in Vicious Backpacker Stand-off

 Microsoft Monopoly Under Challenge

 Kiddies Not Exactly Having a Ball

 NSW ALP Faces Asylum Seeker Test

 Canberra Acts on Industrial Manslaughter

 Carr Delivers on Dismissals

 Santa Claus Strikers on Christmas Island

 Abbott Believes Management Should Dictate

 Low Paid Not To Blame For Beer Price Rise

 Casino Award Covers Eastern States

 Security Workers Want Bosses Sacked

 Sydneysiders Rally For Western Sahara

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
The Cold Hard Truth
The Rail,Tram and Bus Union's Nick Lewocki argues our hard-hearted treatment of refugees is a betrayal of our proud immigrant history.

The Locker Room
The South Melbourne Football Club Pty Ltd
A spectre is haunting football; it is the spectre of revolution; a free market revolution, writes Phil Doyle.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Jobs are under threat in the textile and trye markets; but there's better news in the Newcastle mills and the Nike factories.

Gas Treaty - The Raw Deal
East Timor is getting less then 40%�not 90% royalties from the oil and gas revenue in the Timor Sea, reports HT Lee.

Week in Review
Origin of the Species
Phil Gould, Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus may have buried the laughable notion that Rugby Union is the sport they play in heaven, but outside Stadium Australia life goes on, as Jim Marr discovers.

 Dancing With Trotsky? Not Bloody Likely.
 Your Tools Page is Down
 Big Dave Foster
 Give Us a Click!
 Will the Real Mark Latham Please Stand Up?
 Unified Labour
 The Last Survivor
 Not Hate Mail
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Retailers in Outworker Spotlight

Fashion retailers have nine months to agree on effective protections for clothing outworkers or face State Government regulation.

That was the key point to emerge from this week�s Behind The Label launch by NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca.

While the Minister pitched a theme of co-operation between Government, unions, manufacturers and retailers, key players argue his $4 million program will stand or fall on the co-operation of the all-powerful retail sector.

Central to Della Bosca's program is a seven-person Ethical Clothing Trades Council to be chaired by former State Minister, Joe Riordan. It will report next February on whether self-regulation is effective or Government needs to enforce outworker protections through additional legislation.

Two council members, Fair Wear's Julia Murray and the TCFUA's Igor Nossar, told Workers OnLine retailers actions were the key to a better deal for outworkers.

Nossar's organisation is pressing retailers to pick up on the Target Code, under which the national chain provides information that enables unions to track suppliers through an often tortuous contracting chain.

The Government has already recognised the importance of such a mechanism by legislating for outworkers to be paid under the Clothing Industry Award, and to be able to seek redress from "apparent" employers.

Essentially, if immediate contractors do a runner they can claim from the retailer, manufacturer or design house that let the contract.

Nossar says the Ethical Clothing Trades Council will monitor retailers to ensure, at the very least, they don't undercut ethical operators, such as Target.

"We expect the Target deed will become the minimum standard for the retail sector," Nossar added. "Retailers are vital because they have an iron grip on the industry."

Fair Wear has been working on a national code since 1996 but, nationwide, only four labels - Beare & Ley, Qualitops, Australian Defence Apparel and Hunter Gatherers - have signed on.

Murray says only the big retailers have the muscle to enforce compliance.

"In February we will be looking at the effectiveness of self-regulation. That is the time we expect the (Fair Wear) code to become mandatory for the industry," she said.

Retailers concede the Della Bosca initiative has teeth.

Australian Retailers Association policy director, Stan Moore, says his organisation is discussing the union's demand to broaden the Target Code.

"If Government isn't satisfied with developments it is going to go down the regulation road," he admitted. "Our preference is to have a voluntary code but this is a carrot and stick situation."

There are an estimated 300,000 clothing outworkers in Australia, many earning between $2 and $5 an hour in a deregulated system.

Della Bosca said Behind The Label aimed to provide them with direct assistance, while providing incentives and assistance to the industry.

"In time, it will give the community a chance to show their support by choosing ethically made clothing," he said.

Key elements of the Behind The Label strategy include:

- the establishment of an Ethical Clothing Trades Council, including TCFUA, Labor Council, Fair Wear, industry and retail representatives, to monitor developments and advise Government.

- outworkers deemed to be employees and entitled to provisions of the Clothing Industry Award

- outworkers able to recover wages from fashion houses, manufacturers or retailers further up the contracting chain

- these "apparent employers" required to keep full and accurate records of contracting arrangements

- the appointment of additional bilingual inspectors and advisers to the DIR's multi-lingual Clothing Industry Unit

- specialist advisers to help employers with compliance

- enhanced training programs to improve the industry's skill base

- promotion of the Homeworkers Code of Practice

- $4 million earmarked for the program over the next three years


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