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Issue No. 156 11 October 2002  

Work and the Meaning of Life
The high-profile case of Kamal El-Masiri takes the debate over the intersection of work and family onto an altogether higher plane.


Interview: The Wet One
NSW Opposition industrial relations spokesman Michael Gallacher stakes out his relationship with the union movement.

Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Virgin Mobile is sexy and funky, right? Well, only if those terms have become synonyms for dictatorial or downright mean.

Unions: Demolition Derby
Tony Abbott likens industrial relations to warfare and, like a good general should, he is about to shift his point of attack – from building sites to car plants, reports Jim Marr.

Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
For the powerful, consumerism equals freedom, and is all the freedom we need, writes James Goodman

Politics: American Jihad
Let’s get real. The origins of modern Islamic terrorist groups are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Langley, Virginia not Baghdad, argues Noel Hester.

Health: Secret Country
Oral history recordings are an inadequate tool in trying to find out what happened to Aboriginal stockmen and their communities on cattle stations in Northern Australia, writes Neale Towart

Review: Walking On Water
On the 20th anniversary of the first AIDS-related death, Tara de Boehmler witnesses the aftermath of losing a loved one to the illness in Walking On Water.

Culture: TCF
Novelist Anthony Macris captures life on the shop floor in this extract from his upcoming novel, Capital Volume II

Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
The University of Queensland has sought to join the ranks of union-busting companies like Rio Tinto in trying to sack the president of the local union - and made the mistake of thinking they were dealing with an array of acquiescent academics.


 Muslims Snubbed in Discrimination Laws

 Workplace Racism Rife Post S11

 Mad Monk’s World In Turmoil

 Qantas Directors Bust Wages Freeze

 Deregistration on Cole Agenda

 Aussie Wharfies Save Farmers

 Victorian Libs Block Pay Rise

 Dad’s the Word For Steelworkers

 Funeral Workers Dig in Their Heels

 Unions Expose Truth Of McDonalds’ People Promise

 Gay and Lesbians Workers To Meet

 VTHC Urges Compassion For Colombian Refugees

 New Zealand Workers Win Paid Parental Leave

 WorkCover Inspectors Off the Road

 Mine Guards Shoot Own Workers

 Unions On Call For Working Young

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
I Walk The Line
American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has weighed into the Hilton Hotel dispute with this special message to the workforce.

Mekong Daze
Union Aid Abroad's Phil Hazelton fires off a missive from Laos where he is spending a year working with the community.

Month In Review
Bush Whackers
It was a month where the world teetered on the brink of peace, no thanks to the leader of the free world, writes Jim Marr

The Locker Room
The Laws Of Gravity
Phil Doyle goes looking for the fine line that separates sport from an exercise in time-wasting

Snouts in the Trough
It’s AGM season in the corporate world, and deal after shady deal is being exposed as highfliers treat company accounts like the proverbial honey-pot.

Songs of Solidarity
There has been a proud history of pro-worker tunes dating back to the early days of the 20th century, which will be continued in a new CD, writes Dan Buhagiar.

 Who Is Farmhand?
 Direct Voting Rights
 Iraq is a Gobalisation Issue Too
 Letter to George Dubya
 WTO and Schools
 Casual Thought
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Tool Shed

No Support

Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss has been exported into the Tool Shed this week after siding with US Farm Lobby over his fellow Australians.

In a week that has seen the powerful US Farm Lobby vow to block the Howard Government's pipe dream of a free trade agreement that included agriculture, you would think that the Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss would be pushing the Howard Government to use its profound influence with the Bush Administration to get an outcome that benefited Australia for a change.

Instead, Truss led a chorus of ministers calling on Simon Crean to stop MUA members from helping out waterfront workers in the United States who have been locked out by their employers. "Australian farmers facing drought and poor crops can ill afford to have their farm exports held up by militant unions." Truss said "Australian workers would not want their own union leaders to be contributing to a heightening of tempers on American wharves that will hurt Australian farmers."

The only problem is that it is the American employers with the backing of George Dubya, not the unions, which is escalating this dispute. Port operators and shipping lines have closed 29 west coast ports, locking out thousands of workers. George Dubya has become the first US president in history to use the courts to end a management lockout after opinion polls showed that Americans wanted to devote more attention to the economy than to Iraq.

"No president has ever been on the side of management so overtly," says the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka.

But back hope, Wazza couldn't help himself: "I call on Simon Crean, and all of the State Labor agriculture ministers and Premiers to use their influence with the unions to ensure that Australian unions do not help create further pain for Australian farmers. The very real concern is that if this dispute escalates, many millions of dollars worth of income to Australian farmers could be threatened."

Many other millions of dollars worth of income for Australian farmers is threatened by Mr Truss himself, after his government told drought-affected farmers that anything they received from Telstra's Farmhand stunt would count as income for Centrelink purposes. So any assistance farmers received from Telstra's Farmhand appeal would mean a loss of their drought relief from guess who? Warren Truss, the farmer's friend.

Not content with dumping on farmers and workers, Truss then turned his sights upon Australia's filthy rich, managing to rename Australian Agricultural Company CEO as Peter Homes-a-Court. It brings a whole new meaning to the term 'household name'.

And how's this sound grip on high school geography from the man who wasn't afraid to dip into the protection afforded to Australian Sugar farmers on his way up the National Party food chain: "Australian farmers know drought is a part of this arid continent." Our Shorter Oxford describes Arid as "Dry, parched or withered". Most droughts would seem to share these qualities.

All of this should all come as no surprise from the man that, after the closure of a Rockhampton meatworks, blamed workers in his own electorate for being paid too much.

Now that it's been established that Agriculture Minister Warren Truss doesn't support drought affected farmers, voters in his own electorate or Australian working people, will he go down in history as the first Truss to offer no support at all? Maybe the Master Builders Association should see if this Truss is up to standard, as it doesn't appear to support anything in this country.

NB. If you want to see a Warren Truss that actually does offer support then click here link:


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