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Issue No. 177 09 May 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

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.

Postcard
Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

Bosswatch
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.

L E T T E R S
 The Workers Press
 Massive Attack
 Teamwork Tom
 Solidarity
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Acid on Billion Dollar Banks


Banks boasting billion dollar profits should cut workers and customers in on their windfalls, according to the Finance Sector Union.

The FSU has called on Westpac to employ more staff, in branches and call centres, in the wake of a $1,051 million half-year profit, reported last week.

"We need more staff to improve customer service and reduce waiting times," national secretary Tony Beck says. "Waiting in telephone queues is just as frustrating as waiting in a branch.

"After years of severe staff cutbacks Westpac can afford to employ more staff. Billion dollar profits should mean more jobs."

The Bank has thus far limited its carve-up to shareholders, increasing interim dividends to 38 cents per share.

Westpac and ANZ have both sliced more than 9000 jobs out of the industry in the past five years.

And, according to the annual reports of Australia's big five banks, between them they have shut 718 branches around the country since 1998. Westpac also leads that field with 255 branch closures.

For those efforts, executives have been richly rewarded. The five CEOs, last year, made off with more than $17.5 million in direct remuneration.

Westpac paid its CEO an extra $1,072,000, last year, for a total income of $3.58 million but that figure paled beside the Commonwealth Bank's package of $6,955,000 nearly triple what its top man received over the previous 12 months.


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