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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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Mystery Men Behind Pan Bungle

Pan Pharmaceutical staff didn’t know the men responsible for half of them losing their jobs and the others facing uncertain futures.

AWU delegate, Paula Rich, a 14-year-veteran with the company, revealed that when directors appeared on television in the wake of Australia’s biggest pharmaceuticals recall, it was an eye-opener for most of her workmates.

"I didn't know them," she said. "I worked downstairs and there was an upstairs-downstairs culture out there.

"We've seen Ken Baxter, we've seen another fellow, a director, and that's the first time we've seen him, on the media. We know who he is because he's in the prospectus but there were a lot of things and people we didn't know."

Pan has been shut down for six months by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in the wake of serious allegations, including the falsification of both records and testing results.

Quick work by the AWU, which has suffered years of obstruction by management at the Moorebank plant, has secured accrued entitlements for permanent and casual staff. They have been paid into NEST, an entitlements trust fund established by the union movement.

Rich has been a central figure in winning the union a presence at the plant, signing up more than 100 members.

The company has agreed to keep its 120 fulltime on "for the time being" but has already stood down 135 casuals.

AWU secretary, Ross Collison, indicated that their futures would be the union's next concern as many should have been given permanent status years ago.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson supported an AWU call for Pan founder and chief executive, Jim Selim, to personally guarantee the wages of workers while the Therapeutic Goods Administration reviews its six-month stand-down.

Selim has parlayed his stake into a $250 million fortune since floating the company on the stock exchange.

Pan exports to 40 countries and last year turned over more than $100 million. Its enforced shutdown has been a sensation, rocking the alternative medicines industry and threatening the survival of dozens of retailers forced to abandon hundreds of its products and hundreds more, manufactured under other labels but including Pan constituents.


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