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Issue No. 144 12 July 2002  

The Lotto Economy
The failure of George W Bush's much-hyped pitch for corporate responsibility underlines the current crisis facing unregulated global capitalism: the system is corrupting all before it.


Interview: Capital in Crisis
ACTU president Sharan Burrow outlines the global union response to the corporate carnage gripping an increasingly shaky system.

Industrial: No Sweat
Neale Towart surveys the international debate around sweatshops and what can be done to regulate them

Bad Boss: Super Spam
Several late scratchings have seen Workplace Relations Department secretary Peter Boxall win this week’s heat of the Workers’ Online Bad Boss handicap.

History: Living Treasures
Labour History is 40 this year. Greg Patmore looks back at what it took to get a regular journal of the labour movement in Australia up and away.

International: Axis of Evil
George W Bush’s scarecrow trio of Iran, Iraq and North Korea is not an original invention, argues Stephen Holt

Solidarity: Pride of Place
NSW Labor Council and CFMEU flags sit alongside the mounted jersey of former Kiwi Rugby League hooker Syd Eru in a modest home at Manurewa, south Auckland.

Technology: The Art of Cyber-Unionism
More Unionism? Transformed Unionism? Peter Waterman looks at a new handbook for unions and the internet

Poetry: The Masochism Tango
Tony Abbott's comment we should accept a bad boss like a bad husband or bad father has made us all realise that instead of fighting bad bosses, we should love them. Anyone for a tango?

Satire: Foxtel-Optus Merger 'Anti-Repetitive'
The ACCC has ruled today that the proposed content sharing arrangement between Foxtel and Optus Vision would constitute anti-repetitive conduct

Review: Bob Carr's Thoughtlines
Stephen Holt reviews one man's journey from collectivism to the centre


 Sweat Shops – Coming To A Street Near You

 Glassworkers Walk for the Umpire

 Family Friendly For A Buck

 Abbott in Slow GEER

 Royal Commission Bugs Workers

 Drivers Frozen Out by Corporate Spin

 Coca-Cola Brews Storm In A Tea Cup

 Bush Prepares for War on the Wharves

 Safety Summit A Hit With Unions

 Beattie Faces Bargaining Face-Off

 Casual Work Exploits – Catholic Church Agency

 More Effort Required On Disabled Workers

 Protecting Security Officers From Disease

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Why Modernisation Matters
Labor frontbencher Mark Latham argues that the ALP's reform agenda must go way beyond the 60-40 debate.

The Locker Room
Playing To The Whistle
Phil Doyle takes a look at the man in the middle, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Inquiry Into Executive Pay
The ACTU Executive this week called for a public debate on spiralling executive pay packets, seeking feedback from workers, community representatives and unions.

Up In Smoke
Wobbly Radio's Nick Luccinelli reports from England where drug law reform is on the political agenda.

Week in Review
Bulldust and Boofheads
Jim Marr casts his eye over a week in which bullshit and bad bosses fought for headlines…

 On Aspiration
 GST Agenda
 Amanda's Mediocrity
 Capital Ideas
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Sweat Shops – Coming To A Street Near You

Would you like this next to your bedroom? Odds are, if you live in a residential area controlled by the Liverpool, Fairfield, Bankstown, Penrith or South Sydney Councils, it will happen.

None of those councils, all hosts to clothing industry sweatshops, bothered to attend a meeting organised by Local Government minister Harry Woods this week, to discuss their responsibilities under new factory registration regulations.

TCFUA official David Tritton said his organisation was "bitterly disappointed" that only three Sydney's councils - Auburn, Fairfield and Marrickville. - showed up for the information session.

"The new regulations mean sweatshops and outworkers have to register as factories," he explained. "It is then up to councils whether they allow them to continue operating out of residential addresses or push them back into industrial zones.

"We are primarily concerned with worker welfare but councils have wider responsibilities. These factories are a residents' issue and a public liability issue.

"Some of them operate all hours. What happens if one catches fire and damages adjoining properties or, worse still, injures people. Where are these councils going to hide then?"

In the last three years clothing factories, employing people in often-unsafe conditions, have gone residential, springing up across suburbs from South Sydney to Penrith.

The TCFUA has gone to the trouble and expense of preparing a graphic 25-minute video, highlighting the reality of what is happening behind the bolted doors of houses across the western suburbs.

It includes footage of :

- an ordinary looking Yagoona cottage in which 12 Asian workers were locked in against their wills

- two large brick workshops constructed in a Cabramatta backyard. When union officials approached, 15 people scarpered in all directions.

- a fullscale clothing factory in the backyard of a Canterbury house being powered by a line strung from the home to the sheds, via a clothesline. It blows in the breeze and rubs against guttering. Inside, more than 20 workers were being paid $6 an hour, all-in.

- a barred and gate Canterbury cottage in which every room is used for clothing manufacture. The kitchen houses industrial reels, the bedrooms are full of sewing machines, while halls and the lounge house racks and racks of clothing. Documentation showed it was supplying a fashion house in Surry Hills.

- A Fairfield house registered for pressing. Inside big industrial fusers are visible. The paper trail reveals it is producing thousands of garments valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There are also shots from inside factories set up behind shopfronts across the western suburbs, graphically illustrating health and fire hazards. The worst examples on film were recorded at Chippendale, Bankstown and Belmore.

Tritton picks the location of such operations will become a hot political issue in affected neighbourhoods.

"We put a lot of resources into this video to help these councils do their jobs. If they don't care one way or the other, we will probably make it available to the media. The information is too improtant to ignore."


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