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Issue No. 184 27 June 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

To the Victors The Spoils
Revelations that private American lawyers, rather than the ILO, will rewrite the labour laws of countries levelled by the American military vindicate the warnings of those concerned by US unilateralism.

F E A T U R E S

History: Nest of Traitors
Rowan Cahill uncovers a ripping yarn that could redefine the way we look at Australian involvement in World War II.

Interview: A Nation of Hope
Former PM Bob Hawke bemoans the demise of industrial relations but takes heart from the prospect of peace in the Middle East

Unions: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on a soap star rebellion, Howard’s plans to renuclearise South Australia, more historical atrocities in the north, the redundancy test case plus more in the monthly national wrap.

Safety: The Shocking Truth
It’s every power worker’s worst nightmare – and it happened to Adrian Ware. In a flash of voltage, his life changed forever, as Jim Marr reports.

Tribute: A Comrade Departed
From Prime Ministers to wharfies, the labour movement paid tribute to Tas Bull this week. Jim Marr was among them.

History: Working Bees
Neale Towart looks at a group of workers who got sacked so their boss could keep making the Bomb.

Education: The Big Picture
The NTEU’s Dr Mike Donaldson and Tony Brown join all the dots in the current debate around higher eduction.

International: Static Labour
Ray Marcelo argues there’s another side to the recent furore over Telstra’s use of cheap Indian IT contractors.

Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Frank Stilwell argues that Peter Costello’s latest budget plumbs fiscal policy to new depths.

Technology: Google and Campaigning
Labourstart’s Eric Lee argues the latest weapon for campaigning could be the humble search engine.

Review: Secretary With A Difference
Looking for a new job can be hard enough, without having to worry about sadomasochistic bosses and the threat of being spanked for forgetting to cross your ‘t’s, says Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Minimale
The Labor Party leadership is in the news again, inspiring our resident bard David Peetz to song

Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
John Howard released a controversial policy statement today, arguing that the Senate be abolished in favour of a device measuring noise from the gallery of the House of Representatives.

N E W S

 Rail Chaos Looms

 Electrolux Blows Fuse at Fundraiser

 ACM Loosens Handcuff on Democracy

 Sick Call on Mum’s Job

 Now For Industrial Shock and Awe

 Brian Miller – Working Class Hero

 Dynamite: Howard Handout for Rorters

 Family Case to Nurture Mothers

 Militants Lock Out Another 600

 Tipping the Turtle – Fijian Style

 Carr Goes Private

 Wages Blemish Sound Budget

 Westie Takes On Westfield ‘Hypocrisy’

 Eleventh Hour Reprieve for Women's Centre

 Activist Notebook

C O L U M N S

Politics
It’s Our Party
Long time union watcher Nicholas Way looks at the changing dynamics between the industrial and political wings of the labour movement.

The Soapbox
Grass Roots
In his Maiden Speech, new MP Tony Burke argues that the ALP’s union links are nothing to be ashamed of.

Media
Opinion Forming Down Under
Evan Jones condemns the mainstream’s media coverage of the War on Iraq and the damage it is doing to our national psyche.

The Locker Room
Location, Re-Location!
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a club, writes Phil Doyle

L E T T E R S
 In Defence of Cuba
 The Story in General
 Thinking of America
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Now For Industrial Shock and Awe


A US law firm that prides itself on busting unions and breaking pickets has been handed a key role in drafting labour laws for post-Taliban Afghanistan.

General secretary of Union Network International Phillip Jennings this week called on the International Labour Organisation to explain how private lawyers had taken control of the legal process and to ensure a similar process does not occur in Iraq.

The firm, Dechert, supplies one of the lead lawyesr to the Afghanistan Transitional Commercial Law Project, which was initiated by the Center for International Management Education and the American Bar Association.

Dechert prides itself on its anti-union credentials, crowing on its website that:

We help employers maintain a union-free environment, conduct collective bargaining negotiations, secure injunctive relief from strikes, boycotts, and mass picketing, and develop compliance programs.

We regularly handle labor arbitrations and defend employers facing unfair labor practice charges.

It also proudly cites its work representing Big Tobacco, overturning a $145 punitive damages claim in a Florida case that puts at risk all damages actions against tobacco companies.

Speaking to the ILO Conference in Geneva, Jennings also raised concerns the World Bank was trying to promote investment in Afghanistan by slashing the minimum wage by 10 percent.

"In both nations we want to see the emergence of a free and independent trade union movement," he said.

Federal ALP IR spokesman Robert McClelland expressed concern that Afghanistan and potentially Iraq might end up with labour laws that fall short of international standards and contain no effective right to organise and bargain collectively.

"Such rights have always been essential to enable working people to raise and maintain their living standards at dignified levels," McClelland says.

McClelland says Australia, as a long-standing member of the ILO, should be seeking that the ILO plays a role in assisting these nations, which are emerging from the trauma of war, to develop labour laws that meet internationally agreed minimum standards.

He says it was a disgrace the Howard Government had all but ignored the ILO for seven years, and would be raising the matter of Afghanistan and Iraq with Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer through the Parliament.


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