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Issue No. 180 30 May 2003  

Headless Nation
So the Governor-General has voted himself out of the Big House, recognising that his capacity to discharge his duties as Head of State had been fatally compromised by the skeletons in his Yarralumla closet.


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.


 Sanitarium Casts Democracy into Hell’s Fire

 Mouse that Roared

 Abbott: Look After Number One

 Entitlements Revamp – Acid on States

 Strong Stuff – Commission Star in Court

 Think Before You Drink

 Maritime Hero Takes Final Journey

 All Ding but No Gong

 Aged Care in Terminal Condition

 Strathfield Joins War on Shonks

 AMWU Returns to the Fold

 Green Jobs In Offing

 Register for Action

 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.

 Language Most Foul
 Unions Deserve Reputation
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Tool Shed

Ziggy The Pinhead

Ziggy Switkowski, the part time CEO of Telstra and full time carpetbagger, has been placed on hold in the tool shed for being switched off, or out of mobile range.

This week Zygmunt Edward Switkowski showed that his true priorities are not to the real stakeholders of Telstra - its employees and customers - but to the big end of town and, of course, himself.

Fresh from putting the Estens' inquiry into regional telecommunications into a file marked 'never to be opened' Ziggy the Pinhead has shrugged off revelations that another 3000 jobs will disappear from the national telco over the next financial year.

One in five job cuts will come from country areas which hardly upholds Estens' recommendation 8.2 that Telstra should maintain an ongoing local presence in regional, rural and remote Australia.

The job cuts are rather disingeniously described by Telstra as part of an ongoing drive to lift productivity. How getting fewer people to do more with less in an organisation that has already been pared to the bone is supposed to work invokes a subtle genius.

Telstra, showing a cavalier attitude to what a reasonable person may deem to be something approximating the truth, had previously denied plans to throw fellow Australians out of work. Telstra has already disposed of 11,423 people in the last three years. About one in five of the positions lost this year were in country areas, demonstrating the extent of Telstra's ongoing commitment to rural and regional Australia.

While Telstra moves to divest itself of inconvenient payroll obligations Ziggy will, no doubt, be passing on the benefits of his own redundancy package - a year's salary - to each employee made redundant.

It was revealed at a Senate committee hearing that Mr. Switkowski would receive a year's salary if he too was to be down-sized.

Telstra has joined the ranks of corporate Australia in designing lavish parachutes, worth millions for failed bosses, while cutting thousands of jobs, reducing services to Australians and hiking line rentals.

The cost cutting does not, of course, extend to the corporate lifestyle enjoyed by the monkeys at the top of the tree. Telstra will maintain its lavish hospitality budget - seeking "value for money" with from entertainment activities. No doubt most average Australians would regard a lunch to the value of a four figure sum being picked up by someone else as being excellent value indeed.

If Ziggy the Pinhead was fair dinkum about the market he would address the needs of the majority shareholders of Telstra, the Australian people.

Switkowski was paid $2.4 million last year, including a $1.25 million base salary as well as a $1.15 million incentive payment. Despite this the Telstra share price has dropped and service standards continue to be indifferent.

Then again, considering we can get rid of John Howard for $10 000 a night, paying Ziggy the S to crawl back under whatever rock he came out from under could represent good value.

The attempt to totally privatise Telstra is an admission by the Howard government that they can't run it, without admitting that the private sector can't run it either.

Australians won't be fooled or blackmailed by this or any other government and know their only guarantee of service is continued public ownership.

Our tool of the week is just another greedy grub masquerading as a brains trust. It's high time he was accountable to the people who foot his lavish bills - you and I.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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