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Issue No. 178 16 May 2003  

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.


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.


 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


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.

 Ron The Tool
 In Defence of Tom
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Clerks Put Boot In

Rail clerks have declared war on fashion-challenged bosses, after they were sent home for wearing jeans and sandshoes to work.

The Rail Infrastructure Corporation clerks, who have no contact with the general public, believe management have gone over the top in imposing a corporate dress code.

But they've now fired back, with the Australian Services Union calling on members to report report senior managers who do not conform with their own corporate dress standard (ie: full business suits and matching co-ordinates).

"Having verified corporate breaches, the ASU can insist the offending executives be sent home - without pay - fully conforming with the strict dress code conditions as they intend to impose on our members," the ASU's Trevor Naylor says.

The workers are also organising a "mufti" day where we will be requesting members to come to work in their humblest jeans and daggiest joggers.

Naylor says RIC's draconian dress code recalls a bygone age when rail employees were treated as 'humble servants' subject to severe discipline for minor offences.

Great Expectations

To add some spice to their campaign, the clerks have issued their own Dickensian suggestions for RIC's next EBA claim.


1. Goodliness, cleanliness and punctuality are the necessities of good business.

2. This firm has reduced hours of work and clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7am and 6pm on week days.

3. Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The clerical staff will be present.

4. Clothing must be worn of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colours nor will they wear hose, unless in good repair.

5. Overshoes and topcoats may not be worn in the office, but scarves and head gear may be worn in inclement weather.

6. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff: coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff brings four pounds of coal each day during cold weather.

7. No member of staff may leave the room without permission from Mr. Rogers. The calls of nature are permitted without permission and clerical staff may use the garden below the second gate. This area must be kept in order.

8. No talking is allowed during business hours.

9. The craving for tobacco, wines or spirits is a human weakness and is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.

10. Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11.30am and noon, but work on no account ceases.

11. Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available on application to Mr. Rogers.

12. Mr. Rogers will nominate a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and private office. All boys and juniors will report to him 40 min. before prayers and will remain after closing hours for similar work. Brushes, brooms, scrubbing brushes and soap are provided by the owners.

13. The new increased weekly wages are: Juniors boys to 11 years, 1s 4d, boys to 14 years, 2s 1d; juniors 4s 8d; clerks 10s 9d; senior clerks after 15 years' service with owners 21s.

"..the owners recognise the generosity of the new labour laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near-Utopian conditions.."


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