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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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Letters to the Editor

A Strange Light

I appreciate your editorials and wish you all the best.

As a member of the ALP for over 25 years, it saddens me to see such a right-wing regime dominating Australian politics. Unfortunately the Federal ALP has been no match for Howard and his propaganda.

But I do see a strange light appearing. If we view the current dispute between Simon and Kim from the point of view that "there is no such thing as bad publicity", we may at last see both of these leaders state clearly to the public, the party faithful and their peers what there policies would be in government on the environment, human rights of refugees, aboriginal reconciliation, medicare, education, etc, etc. In my humble opinion, the reason why Simon, and Kim previously, failed to make the impact to gain public support, is that their sentences are guarded by conditions and equivocation. But more importantly, they are responding to Howard's agenda and look a bland shadow of the PM.

What the weary electorate want to hear Simon, or Kim, talk about is how workers are now working their guts out at a time when all of their safety nets are disappearing. Almost every worker in all facets of employment is NOT "comfortable". They work longer hours, have less job security, feel powerless and are made to shoulder higher taxes, more responsibility and less benefits.

As a scientist, I must scream out that we are rapidly going down the brain-drain and why the lack of vision in science, technology, information technology and innovation are leading us to a second or third rate nation with respect to manufacture and industry. We are now in a position where most of our industries use imported, second-rate technology and to be competitive on that basis we have to mass produce like developing world economies. Consequently our living standard, if it wasn't for our export of minerals and farm produce, would be the same as our struggling neighbours. Howards policies on the further destruction of higher education and training of our young people will get us there faster.

Just keep in mind that the only reason an advanced economy can pay its people higher wages is that its people are producing the cutting edge products (ie videos, telephones, IT, etc). These types of new products are purchased by consumers at premium prices. While second rate technology produces products that struggling economies produce and they pay their work force a struggling wage. This is the direction in which we have been travelling along for many years. I could go on, but it is a voice in the wilderness.

Best wishes and keep up the good work,

Paul Smith


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