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Issue No. 179 23 May 2003  

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.


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.


 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


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.

 Hard Copy
 Bad Language
 Modern Management Theory
 Tom's Revival
 Off the Rails
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Picket Breaks Abbott

Tony Abbott has conceded the right of workers to a collective agreement after extraordinary scenes on an Arncliffe picketline today.

Further, the champion of individual contracts, pledged to intervene in the long-running Morris McMahon dispute after being embarrassed by rank and file process workers and their union officials.

The Workplace Relations Minister met picketers on a challenge from AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, delivered at the end of a heated university debate earlier in the week.

During the meeting, held in front of television cameras, the Minister revealed little understanding of what his legislation means for workers whose employer refuses to negotiate.

Morris McMahon employees have been picketing the company for 10 weeks. Their employer, city lawyer Judith Beswick, refuses to negotiate or even recongise the union. She has used Abbott's AWAs, backed by thousand dollar lures, to try and split individuals from workmates and their union.

Employers around the country have used above contract payments to try and buy people off collective agreements and onto AWAs.

Confronted with the reality Abbott appeared dumbfounded.

He tried to tell workers "under my legislation it is illegal for people on individual contracts to be treated any differently to people on collective agreements."

Cameron interjected: "That's not true Minister."

Abbott then took issue with a picketer. "No that's not right," he insisted. "You can take protected action when you have an individual contract."

Cameron: "Minister, that's not right, you can't take protected action on individual contracts. Believe me, officials of trhe AMWU know about bargaining laws."

"Thanks Doug. In future I will take my advice on industrial laws from the AMWU,"

Abbott responded to cheers and applause. "I am only a bush lawyer not an industrial lawyer," he added.

The Minister looked bemused when a single mother of two, earning $12.81 an hour, pleaded for help so her family could "live with dignity".

Cameron thanked the Minister for fronting up but urged him to go further and represent the interests of picketers. Abbott said he would intervene and conceded the workers should be entitled to a collective agreement and union representation if they wanted it.

Cameron said workers had given Abbott a lesson in real life.

"Government's mantra about choice is not supported by its laws," he said. "These workers have chosen to belong to the union, they have chosen to have a collective agreement, yet the laws mean the employer does not have to bargain in good faith.

"We hope the Minister now understands how his laws are encouraging and assisting employers to starve workers into submission."


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