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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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Child Actor Dodges Broken Voice

A broken voice has not spelled the end of an emerging star’s participation in the hit musical ‘Oliver!’, thanks to a union code protecting the interests of child actors.

Fifteen-year-old Benjamin Nicholas was facing the poor house after nature intervened mid-way through the production meaning he could no longer play the pivotal role of Dodger.

But under a Code of Conduct developed by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the show's producers, IMG, found him a place in the adult cast.

MEAA NSW secretary Jonathan Mill says the agreement, was established to deal with the large number of child actors in the show - 40 at any one time and more than 100 during the live of the production.

"The agreement principally covered how adult and child performers interact - you're not a guardian, or a teacher, so we need a Code of Conduct to protect both the children and the adult cast members," Mill says.

Part of the Code addressed what would happen if a boy's voice broke - with an agreement that best efforts would be made to integrate the boy into the show so that termination of employment would be a last option.

"Lucky, Ben's voice broke during rehearsal's in Singapore, so we had more time to rehearse him into a new role within the adult ensemble created especially for him," Mill says.

"IMG were fantastic agreeing to the proposal in the fist place and then carrying it through both in letter and spirit with a serenity and understand and the whole episode really underlines the importance of the union negotiating a good agreement up front."

And the postscript? Ben has been nominated for a 'Green Room' award - one of only four performers nationwide to receive the honour - for his work as 'Dodger' in the days before his voice broke.

Media Mongrels Vie For Orwells

Meanwhile, what have Immigration Minister, Phillip Ruddock, Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and 'Bagdhad Bob' got in common? They are among the many contenders vying for this year's inaugural Orwell Awards.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has created the awards, named in honour of the creator of the original Big Brother, to highlight abuses of media freedom, both in Australia and overseas.

Other nominees include the Senate Privileges Committee, the former Federal Defence Minister Peter Reith, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams. Winners will be judged on demonstrated obstruction - deliberate or otherwise - of the media and the public's right to know.

They will be announced 6.30pm Wednesday 7 May at The Fringe Bar, 106 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW.


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