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Issue No. 177 09 May 2003  

Joining The Dots
ACTU secretary Greg Combet’s call for unions to develop a clear set of values to organise around on a broader social canvass is an important next step in the process of renewal.


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.


 Combet Calls On Unions to Muscle Up

 HR Honours Death List Author

 Hotel Workers Trump Living Wage

 Abbott Brushes Security Concerns

 Rebates Thorn in Medicare Side

 Bosses Infected With SARS Hysteria

 Entitlements: Bargaining Chip Ploy Fails

 Nelson Plan Faces Higher Hurdle

 Public To Pay For Patrick Closure

 Airline Ratbags Bigger Than Texas

 Credibility Crisis for World Bank

 Acid on Billion Dollar Banks

 CSIRO Budget Fears

 Activists 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.

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Abbott Brushes Security Concerns

Australia’s national security interests are taking a back seat to Tony Abbott’s one-man war against the CFMEU.

Caught in the crossfire is Australia Post’s $20 million Tullamarine mail centre, touted as a front line response to the threats of terror and drugs, which has been delayed again because Abbott won’t accept builders who have pattern agreements with Australia’s largest construction union.

Hansen Yuncken was understood to have won the tender for the mail centre at Melbourne's international airport until Abbott took exception to its signature on the Victorian Building Industry Agreement, enshrining minimum wages, conditions and hours of work.

Abbott insisted that a clause in the agreement, making head contractors responsible for the entitlements of sub-contractors' staff, was contrary to his national construction code.

On that basis, tenders for the mail centre have been reopened. The centre was to have been screening suspect packages this year but has been twice-stalled by Abbott's hardline stance.

Enraged Victorian IR Minister, Rob Hulls, accused his federal counterpart of interfering in Victorian affairs at the expense of national security.

The VBIA agreement has been in place for 15 years, under Labor and Coalition state governments.

Abbott's proscriptive building industry code has no legal status. It has never been voted on by any legislature in Australia - territorial, state or federal.

IR commentators suggest his position is also questionable under his Government's own controversial workplace relations laws which make it an offence for third parties to interfere in bargaining.

Abbott's on the record position is that if companies "find they are in agreements that do not conform (with his code) then we expect them to negotiate changes".

Hulls accused the Workplace Relations Minister of "industrial vandalism".

"Tony Abbott has allowed an ideological stance to put at risk a project designed to be part of Australia's anti-terrorism fight and efforts to protect the country from exotic diseases and illegal drugs," Hulls said.

Two tenders have now been rejected - one on the grounds that it wasn't compliant with the Building Industry Code of Practice and the other, although it is understood to have been compliant.

According to a Melbourne newspaper report, Abbott rejected that tender because he felt it involved 'union encouragement".


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