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Issue No. 179 23 May 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

The Game’s Up
Research into executive pay commissioned by the NSW Labor Council makes explicit what most of us have suspected for some time: the multi-million packages are a rolled gold rort.

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

 War Declared on Mega Salaries

 Poms Prick Golden Parachute

 Picket Breaks Abbott

 Abbott: Unions are Winning

 Hotel Silences Poverty Witness

 We’ve Lost A Lion

 Nurses Refuse to be Shelved

 Boss Picks Porters’ Pockets

 Left, Right Meet at Sea

 ACTU Prescribes Pan Medicine

 Tycoon Tuned Out

 MUA Clout in Wollongong Punch-Up

 Pusey Roams Dark Side

 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
 Hard Copy
 Bad Language
 Modern Management Theory
 Tom's Revival
 Off the Rails
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Poms Prick Golden Parachute


British shareholders this week rolled the board of one of their largest companies, GlaxoSmithKline, to block a proposed 22 million pound payment termination guarantee to chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier.

But such activism is impossible in Australia because the Howard Government refuses to pass laws forcing companies to give shareholders a right to vote on executive remuneration.

Almost 51 per cent of shareholders in the drug manufacturer, Britain's third largest company, voted to reject the proposed 22 million pound golden parachute, which would be paid if Garnier lost his job.

Under the banner "You won't get 22 million pound for failure", The Guardian quotes unnamed institutional shareholders who suggest the Glaxo rebellion amounted to the most significant defeat of a big company's board at its annual meeting in memory.

The vote was the latest in a series of protests since the British government recently made it compulsory for companies to put their pay policies to a vote each year.

Crikey reports that investors are viewing it as a warning to other big companies that excessive boardroom pay deals would no longer be tolerated.

In Australia, such a vote is currently impossible. Labor's finance spokesman Steve Conroy introduced the Bill into Parliament in March last year requiring listed companies to have an annual non-binding resolution on executive remuneration at the AGM. The purpose is to give shareholders a voice on remuneration policy.

While the Howard Government voted this amendment down, Conroy has vowed to . will move the amendment again - when the next round of company law changes are debated.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the failure to get legislation through the Parliament shows how focussed unions need to be to hold CEOs to account.

"This is one of the more modest recommendations of our inquiry into Executive Pay," Robertson says. "It's a good first step for Labor but we are hoping for some even bolder movement in light of our report."


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