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Issue No. 178 16 May 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Shit Sandwich
It took a few well-chosen comments by the sole Howard Government minister with a grasp on reality - or at least a penchant for a bit of takeaway - to blow Peter Costello’s Federal Budget to pieces.

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

 Costello Whacks Women

 Abbott Picks Fight with Nurses

 Simon Slams Big End

 Hands-Off Howard Loses Seamen

 Safety Net Slips Disabled

 Clerks Put Boot In

 Bank Hold-Ups Expose Compo Failings

 Low Paid Dirty on Lawyer

 WIN Tactics a Big Turn Off

 ABC Jobs On Line

 Della’s Dallying Could Cost Miners

 Ministers of Misinformation Scoop Orwells

 Death Squads Strike

 Currawong Cottages Waiting for You

 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
 Ron The Tool
 In Defence of Tom
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Hands-Off Howard Loses Seamen


Seaman are pitching in to help starving workers, owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, as the Federal Government stands by and does nothing.

Maritime Union representatives this week swooped on two Flag of Convenience ships, sanctioned by the Howard Government, to provide assistance for hungry Ukranian, Sri Lankan, Maldive and Russian crew members.

Weekend investigations found the Ukranian crew of the MV Panamax, registered in Panama, had been deprived of hot water for five months and underpaid tens of thousands of dollars.

"They had been working 12-14 hours a day for the past five months and half starved," MUA branch secretary Keith Ridgeway said.

The union was responding to pleas for help from the crew who had contacted an Adelaide priest about their predicament.

As Workers Online went to press, the Panamex Sun was being detained in Adelaide by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority because of deficiencies in emergency equipment and issues of structural soundness.

Simultaneously, in Newcastle, IUF representative Dean Summers was opening negotiations with the Greek owners of the Cyprus-flagged Stone Gemini.

Summers reported that the crew from Sri Lanka, the Ukraine, Russia, Greece and the Maldives had been reduced to half a can of baked beans and some margarine.

The Sri Lankan contingent had been forced to pay $3000 a head to a manning agent as "insurance" they would not deal with the IUF, and their families had had to sign in advance for monthly allotments that was never received.

Last Saturday, after 35 hours of negotiations, crew took matters into their own hands and voted to strike.

"Only then did the agent in Colombo admit he had not paid $35,000 in family allotments and owed two months wages," Summers said.

Negotiations in Adelaide brought more than $US50,000 in backpay, while the Newcastle strike won workers $95,000 in unpaid wages and allotments.

Summers described the Flag of Convenience rip-offs as "endemic".

Flag of Convenience ships, operating on special permits signed by the Commonwealth Government, now dominate the Australian domestic trade. Their presence has cost hundreds of Australian jobs and cost the country control of its coastal fleet.


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