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Issue No. 176 02 May 2003  

Solidarity Forever
Another May Day, another year gone, another year to look back on our history and celebrate the past and talk about how we can make our movement strong again.


Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney’s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week’s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney’s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

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.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.


 Mystery Men Behind Pan Bungle

 Charities Brace for Medicare Backlash

 Court Throws Out Cole Prosecutions

 Child Actor Dodges Broken Voice

 Rio Tinto: $40 Million for Boss, Eviction for Workers

 Child Care for Oldies Too

 Winning Poster Shouts at Freeloaders

 May Day Tragedy Claims Union Lives

 Westfield Cleaners to Down Mops

 Question Marks Over Nursing Home

 Burn Payout Highlights Compo Fears

 Costa Blows Whistle on Canberra Raid

 Hoops Bet on National Body

 Tear Us Down, Buttercup

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who’s counting.

Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.

 Is Labor History?
 Bob Gould Sprays Gerard Henderson
 War and Peace
 A Strange Light
 A Little History
 Does It Have To Be?
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Tool Shed

Snake Oil Jim

Pan Pharmaceuticals disgraced hands-on CEO Jim Selim has rolled into the Tool Shed after putting hundreds of jobs on the critical list.


When Australian Workers Union officials went to conduct a safety inspection of the Pan Pharmaceuticals plant in Sydney in November last year they were personally chased off the premises by Pan Pharmaceuticals shonky CEO Jim Selim.

Jim Selim, who quite rightly described himself as not deserving of an award he received from the Complementary Healthcare Council last year, fell on his sword this week - but not until after Pan desperately tried to blame industrial sabotage and problem employees for the debacle. Even Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Trish Worth ridiculed the suggestion that Pan's shortcomings were only caused by a couple of problem employees.

"There was substitution of different ingredients, alarmingly equipment wasn't cleaned properly, and then of course there was the deliberate manipulation of data and changing of that data," says Worth. "So I think it is very much stretching it to be saying it was the fault of one or two people."

Selim, who has been keeping a remarkably low profile this week, was a hands on CEO, owning 52 per cent of the shares in Pan; and this dodgy snake oil salesman, who preyed on the most vulnerable in our society, has form.

In 1976 "Snake Oil" Selim appeared before the Pharmacy Board of NSW charged with professional misconduct after making paracetamol tablets that unfortunately contained no paracetamol.

Selim also defended charges in the local court in 1985 of not properly storing and dispensing a particular medication and, in 1996, the TGA accused Pan Laboratories of an "evening primrose oil scam". But Pan argued, with a curious logic, that the oil was a food and not a therapeutic good.

Union bashing Selim had already attempted to flout the award this year by trying to unilaterally re-configure the pay arrangements for Pan employees. That disastrous attempt was thrown out by the Industrial Relations Commission.

"He has always discouraged employees from joining the union," said one industry source. Another example of the dodgy practices at the heart of anti-union employers.

In 2001 Selim defended a "natural prozac", despite the concerns of the Sydney branch of the Australian College of Clinical Psychologists. In a pitch that could have come straight off the back of a snake-oil salesman's wagon, Selim said people who popped his pills could see an improvement within a week. It was not a cheap option, as people who took two tablets per day would face costs of approximately $100 each month - itself a depressing thought.

Selim will need all the "natural prozac" he can get his hands on as the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is now conducting an investigation into trading in Pan shares prior to trading in the company being halted last Monday. The press conference that announced the action against Pan started at 2.45pm last Monday afternoon but Pan Shares began plummeting at 2.43pm. Some low life was offloading Pan stock onto unsuspecting investors.

There's a word for people like our tool of the week, "Snake Oil" Jim Selim, and that word is shonky.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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