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Issue No. 169 07 March 2003  

Re-considering The Accord
The twentieth anniversary of the Hawke Government�s election provides an opportunity to ponder the Accord�s historical conundrum: how at the moment of the union movement�s greatest influence did it suffer its greatest loss of members?


Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Interview: League of Nations
ICFTU general secretary Guy Ryder on the war, core labour standards and why Australia is an international pariah.

Industrial: 20/20 Hindsight
A retrospective analysis of the Accord is needed to help develop future strategies. Is it worth trying again? And if so, what would need to be different?

Organising: On The Buses
A new rank and file leadership team is standing up for the harried bus driver in the run-up to the NSW State Election

Unions: National Focus
A gaze around the country reveals some inspiring and innovative organising initiatives, a fruitful connection with young workers in South Australia and some typically robust industrial campaigns reports Noel Hester.

History: The Banner Room
On the eve of it�s refurbishment, Jim Marr ventures into one of Trades Hall�s best kept secrets; the room that houses relics of labour�s halcyon days.

International: The Slaughter Continues
Chilling new statistics from Colombia's main trade union confederation CUT: nine trade unionists assassinated in the first two months of this year.

Legal: A Legal Case For War?
Aaron Magner looks at the legal implications of the crusade of the Coalition of the Willing

Culture: Singing For The People
When there�s a struggle for social justice, when a war is brewing or rights are being eroded, the first ones to pen, paper and protest are often the folkwriters.

Review: The Hours
On the eve of International Women�s Day Tara de Boehmler follows the tale of three women who would rather choose death than a life devoid of personal choice.

Poetry: I Wanna Bomb Saddam
Scarier than Star Wars, the latest weapon to be deployed in the battle for Iraq is the Singing Dubya.

Satire: Diuretic Makes Warne's Excuses Look Thin
Australian cricketer Shane Warne today admitted that he was still feeling the after effects of the diuretic he tested positive to.


 Sacre Bleu � It�s �La Gong� Now

 Mum Raises Labour Hire Bar

 Investigate the Buggers

 NSW Libs Madder Than The Monk

 Kits Strike Terror into Govt

 West Braces for Shelling

 Executive Pay Under Senate Spotlight

 Clean Energy�s Jobs Bonus

 Zoo Workers Buck �Mercy Killing�

 Canberra Firefighters Win Union Backing

 Global Equity Under Spotlight

 Aussie Workers Fight Indian Child Labour

 Water on the Brain

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Workers Friend
Shock jock Alan Jones snubbed his Liberal mates to bucket the Cole Royal Commission and launch Jim Marr's book

The Locker Room
Boer Bore Boring
In the face of oppression Phil Doyle falls asleep in front of the TV

Guest Report
Dead Labor
The Hawke and Keating legacy is John Howard, Leonie Bronstein argues.

Hands Off, Tony
John Della Bosca argues the NSW Industrial Relations System gives his State a competitive advantage.

Groundhog Day
Another year, another round of corporate excess. Bosswatch returns from its summer slumber to find the same old dogs up to the same tricks.

 Re - Core/Non Core promises.
 Strangers in the House
 Nursing Home Concerns
 Catholic Tastes
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Tool Shed

Flying Rat

Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon burrows into this week�s Tool Shed after reneging on a promise to flight attendants to reward them for keeping the airline aloft in difficult times.


Geoff Dixon likes to adopt the persona of the workers' friend, a lover of a beer and a laugh, a knock-about battler despite his millions. When shooting the breeze with union leaders, he always likes to play up the fact he's a card-carrying member of the ALP. But there's nothing comradely about the way he's been treating Qantas's public face, the long-haul flight attendants, in recent times.

It all started in late 2001 when the aviation industry was picking up the pieces from September 11, unsure of whether anyone could ever suspend their disbelief again and enter a commercial aircraft. The flight attendants' agreement was up and Dixon cried poor, asking them to cop a pay freeze until the landscape were clearer. They also agreed to cut back the number of crew on some flights, again with the promise that these would be 'recognised' in the next agreement.

Fast forward 12 months and the flight attendants sit down to nut out a new deal. Qantas has survived the S11 downturn and, indeed, thrived, gobbling up Australian travellers with Ansett in the grave, eyeing off Air New Zealand for take over and racking up the sort of profits that sees Dixon rewarded with $1 million in shares. Using the same logic, flight attendants believed it was time to spread some of the booty and table their claim for seven per cent. But the tune had changed; according to Dixon the crisis has returned and there's no money for a wage rise. As for the commitment to recognise the lower crews, all bets are off.

They may be a well-groomed bunch, but this position sent cabin crew understandably feral and they called stop work meetings around the nation to air their grievances. And what did the workers' friend do in the face of collective action? Call in the scabs, of course. In a move reminiscent of the infamous Dubai waterfront exercise, Dixon shipped in inexperienced contract labour, with just weekend training, to keep his fleet in the air. For a group who had built professional pride around their status as safety and security professionals it was the ultimate low blow. Here was Qantas saying that their work was so complex that any mug could be trained to do it in a couple of hours.

All of which fuelled the anger that saw a record turnout at the stop-work meetings and the prospect of more to come. At the Sydney stop work, Labor Council secretary John Robertson laid into Dixon, branding him a rat in a memorable grab that ended up on the evening news. Word is that Dixon was not too pleased with the analogy and made some phone calls to convey that point. All we can say is that if it smells like a rat and acts like a rat it tends to have whiskers. And 'Stinky', the CFMEU's inflatable rodent, is on standby, ready to change his name by deed poll.


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