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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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Airline Ratbags Bigger Than Texas

American Airlines’ announcement of multi-million executive bonuses – on the very day mechanics and flight attendants endorsed massive give backs – has shoved Australian contenders down this month’s ladder of corporate irresponsibility.

American greeted the narrow vote of mechanics and flight attendants to give back $US1.61 billion in wages and benefits by proposing a $US1.6 million bonus for chief executive, Donald Carty, whose base salary is $US811,000 a year.

Carty was one of six executives of the company, staring down bankruptcy, for whom six or seven figure bonuses were proposed.

Not unnaturally, flight attendants, ground workers and mechanics threatened to withdraw their concessions, prompting a rethink in the company's Austin, Texas, boardroom.

American top brass withdrew the bonus packages but left in place millions of dollars in pension top-ups which will be spread across 45 executives.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, low-flying AMP is backing away from a multi-million dollar incentive package for its chief executive officer, Andrew Mohl. AMP has lost $5 billion of its market value in the past week. Share prices, which stood at around $20 two years ago, have plummeted to $5.16.

Under a remuneration scheme, which was to have been put to shareholders this week, directors planned to tip a whopping $7.5 million into the Mohl bank account, via cash and shares.

Mohl took over the company's hot seat last September but has thus far been unable to halt the share price free fall.

But AMP has a history of corporate excess. Public pressure led to former chairman Stan Wallis recently forgoing a $1.6 retirement payment and the current board is refusing to honour an $18 million golden handshake for former CEO Paul Batchelor.

Troubled Pan Pharmaceuticals has also been handsomely rewarding its bosses. General manager, John Brennan, picked up $539,000 from the company last year, although his basic salary was $184,000.

Brennan had earlier been the beneficiary of a $2 million interest free loan from the company, allowing him to purchase two million of its shares.


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