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Issue No. 189 01 August 2003  

The Secret Life of Us
The fact that casual workers are too scared to come forward and testify about the need for job security seems to prove their basic point � no matter how long or how well you work, you can never feel safe in your job.


Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month�s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Tough Women Draw Line at Sacking

 Witness Protection Urged on IRC

 Max Swings Axe at Safety

 Sick Twist in Drug Testing

 Sacked Mum Goes to the Top

 Cuts Sour ADB Birthday Bash

 Howard Enlists Russians for Military

 Vic Workcover Invests in Worker Misery

 Public Hole in Power Shortage

 Whistleblower Sacking Sparks Zoo Walkout

 Truckie With Conscience Wins Back Job

 Indigenous Labour honours Tobler

 Asbestos Blocks Liverpool Road Works

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.

 Bullies in the Ranks
 It Is Still About The Members Isn't It
 Tom's Purpose
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Tool Shed

Chicken Little

Tom Ridge, the US Secretary for Homeland Security knows what's going on, well sort of. Apparently the terrorists are everywhere and its time to panic - luckily Tom can hide in the Tool Shed this week.


Just as Great Leader John Winston Howard was reassuring everyone that everything was fine and that we could all come out of our bomb shelters, the US Decided to tell everyone else that Australia was, in fact, a likely terrorist target.

The claim came from the rather alarmingly named US Department for Homeland Security. Ubergroppenfuhrer Tom Ridge, who allegedly runs the quaintly named department (it is reminiscent of a certain 20th century regime from central Europe) that has been whipping up the general sense of panic and paranoia in the US prior to the next American presidential election.

The warning was quite specific; it said that "Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, hijackings, bombings or kidnappings. These may also involve commercial aircraft. Other potential threats include conventional weapons, such as explosive devices, or non-conventional weapons, such as chemical or biological agents."

Well that has narrowed it down.

Following on from the advice of George Bush's very own Chicken Little, Tom Ridge, the Australian government issued a clarification - assuring someone that Ridge�s bureaucracy simply bungled. Considering that people like Ridge are what stands between us and the forces of darkness (or crude oil hitting $30 a barrel, which is the same thing) it is alarming that they are not more alert.

Either that or we must be led to believe that when the US Department of Homeland Security says that there is a grave and credible threat that it actually means that there is no threat at all.

Ridge tried to cover up his faux pas by saying that Australia would be the STARTING point for any terrorist attack, not the TARGET.

Well, that's reassuring isn't it!

So with the official level of warning shifting from Panic to General Confusion we can thank our lucky stars and stripes that our capable ally the US is just as incompetent as anyone in our own intelligence services or Prime Minister's Department. Many people in the tourism and hospitality sector will also enjoy this little joke courtesy of our Tool Of The Week, Tom Ridge and his band of merry pranksters.

Ridge was initially reluctant to amend the travel advisory but relented when it was pointed out that it could cause electoral damage to the Australian Federal Government.

Ridge, who does sound like he is a character on the TV soap the Bold And The Beautiful, has pioneered the first Homeland Security "centres of excellence". File that one under :Only In America".

Ridge, a former US Governor from Central Casting, was appointed by Bush so that it would appear like he was doing something useful after September 11. While he was a Governor Ridge cut taxes for the wealthy, which apparently helps the poor. No one is quite sure how, but apparently it does. In any case it certainly helps the rich, and that was a good thing in Dubya's eyes. Ridge also managed to run a pro environment program that boosted pollution.

So while the End Of Life As We Know It continues apace George Dubya's right hand man in The War On Error, Tom Ridge, can safely take cover in the Tool Shed. Or can he? Who knows? Certainly not the general public.


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.


Ship of Tools - All the tools in one shed!

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