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Issue No. 175 24 April 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Domestic Relations
As the fog of war lifts and attention returns to the domestic phase we find a Federal Opposition imploding as the Prime Minister prepares for the final putsch toward what he sees as his historical mission.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Picking Up The Peaces
Walk Against the War Coalition convenor Bruce Childs outlines the challenge for the peace movement in the lead up to Palm Sunday.

Unions: The Royal Con
Jim Marr argues the Cole Commission can only be taken seriously by people kept ignorant of the way it actually operated.

National Focus: Around the Grounds
Unions maintain the pressure for peace as the upcoming organising conference takes on added significance, reports Noel Hester.

Economics: The Secret War on Trade
Overseas-based multi-nationals are coming after our film industry, electricity, water, pharmaceutical benefits and even childcare. Or are they? Nobody knows, as Jim Marr reports.

International: United Front
Workers and their unions around the world have possibly never been as united in their commitment to campaign together against the War in Iraq, writes Andrew Casey

History: Confessions of a Badge Collector
Bill Pirie has one of the largest collections of trade union badges in the world. After 20 years the collection now numbers some 6,000 badges.

Politics: Stalin’s Legacy
Fifty years ago last month Josef Stalin died. How could it be that a democratic and socialist revolution produced one of the monsters of the twentieth century, asks Leonie Bronstein.

Review: Such Was Not Ned’s Life
The life of Ned Kelly is what we in the world of journalism term a “ball tearing yarn” so why have writers of the movie adaptation felt so impelled to dress it up with fiction, asks Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Osama's Top Recruiter
Through our extensive intelligence networks, we have managed to track down the top recruiter for the global terror network of Osama bin Laden.

Satire: Woolworths CEO Denied Bonus After Company Posts Profit
Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett was devastated today to report an 18.3% rise in profit under his management over the last year.

N E W S

 Medicare Bombshell – Bosses To Pay

 Another Cole Man Bites The Dust

 Cheap Indian on Telstra Menu

 Legal Tussle Looms Over Email Laws

 Recycled Training Stitch-Up Exposed

 Contractors Code Fires a Blank

 Sweet Talk – Big Business Style

 Bosses, Workers Unite on Grey Threat

 ANZ Workers Want Cut of Billion Dollar Profit

 Time for Death Penalties

 Union Exhibition for Wollongong

 Nurses in Staffing Stand-off

 North Coast Jobs Saved

 Super Success in Pilbara

 Howard Attacks Education - Again

 May Day Festivities

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Factional Free-For-All
Chris Christodoulou looks at the fallout from the selection of the new Carr Ministry and what it means to the factional warlords.

The Locker Room
The Best Season Since Last Year
Phil Doyle goes trudging through the mud in search of the heart of the matter beneath the corporate biffo

Culture
Books on Bombs
In times like these, reading inevitably turns to America and war. Chris White wades through Pilger, Chomsky, Eco, Moore and Vidal.

Postcard
Postcard from Harvard
Labor Council's Michael Gadiel was elected to give the valedictory speech to this year's Harvard Trade Union Program.

L E T T E R S
 Tom's Cunning Plan
 Robert's Conquest?
 Success Breeds Contempt
 Join the Dots
 Still Walking
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Contractors Code Fires a Blank


The bizarre prison labour outsourcing saga has landed on the desk of new NSW Commerce Minister John Della Bosca, after bureaucrats refused to honour the Carr Government’s much-vaunted contractors code.

Department of Public Works officials have refused to disclose to unions where textiles used in NSW hospitals are being sourced from, in breach of the Department’s procurement code.

That information is vital to understand how the Health Department decided to take the contract to produce hospitals gowns and linen away from NSW prisoners and replace them with (even) cheaper foreign imports.

That decision will not only leave maximum security prisoners without work, but cost the jobs of local textile workers who have previously provided the raw material.

Unions remain amazed at how prison labour could be undercut by contractors if the Procurement Code were being met.

The Procurement Code was struck with then Public Works Minister Maurice Iemma, promising to make available to unions information about all government tenders, including sub-contractors. Responsibility for the code now falls under Della Bosca's new super-ministry of Commerce.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson has written to Della Bosca outlining Labor Council's concerns, notably:

- that the Department of Public Works seem unsure of who will be manufacturing the textiles.

- without this information there is no way of knowing whether the goods are being produced in sweatshop conditions

- and that the information is vital in ensuring that the contract complies with basic ILO Conventions on child labour and forced prison labour.

"We question how the community can be assured that proper monitoring procedures are in place if such a veil of secrecy hangs over where the goods are being manufactured," Robertson says in the letter.


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