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Issue No. 190 08 August 2003  

Border Protection
The High Court’s decision that Australian labour laws should apply to cargo ships plying our shores could be the first shot in the fight back against the excess of corporate globalisation.


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.


 Legal Missile Holes Ships of Shame

 Labour Rights Threaten Trade Deal

 Workers Sharpen Community Clause

 "Puppet" Sparks Appeals

 FiFo, FiFo – Out the Gate We Go

 SRA Chief Off The Rails

 Qantas: Long Lunches on Rocks

 Water Crisis a Mist for Sell-Off

 Aussies Enter Karoshi Zone

 Combet Flies Ansett Plan

 Westfield Workers Seek Clean Start

 Rubber Workers Stretch Bridgestone

 Workers Art in Broken Hill

 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.

 Workplace Bullying
 Casual TAFE
 Wage Rise
 The Fifth Column
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Labour Rights Threaten Trade Deal

The Howard Government’s refusal to guarantee collective bargaining rights could bring the US-Australia bilateral trade talks undone, the ACTU has warned.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow has revealed that the ACTU has been providing the US Labour Department with information about the situation for Australian workers via the peak US union body the AFL-CIO.

The issue of labour rights is critical because the US Congress has passed laws requiring that labour standards be incorporated in all trade agreements.

Burrow says Australia's problem is that with no legal guarantee for collective bargaining, Australia will have real difficult meeting this legal threshold.

"We have been working through the AFL_CIO to give the US Government an understanding of Australia's labour laws," Burrow says. "We have been doing this because it is our view that our government has not been giving the US the full story."

"There is no question that people are shocked when you tell them that Australian labour laws do not guarantee collective bargaining. In the context of the bilateral trade talks it means we are really in the weaker position when it comes to labour rights."

While the ACTU is opposing a raft of aspects of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, including limits to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and bans on local content in cultural industries, Burrow says there is support for trade and investment based on decent standards.

Burrow also warned that the US Congress would give the trade deal far greater scrutiny than the Australian Parliament.

"It's a sad day when Bush Administration will have a debate on the trade agreement with Australia debated in its Congress, but Australia will have one minister to sign off with no parliamentary scrutiny," she says.

Burrow will brief the media on the trade talks with senior AFL-CIO official Linda Chavez-Thompson in the lead-in to the upcoming ACTU Congress.

While the Free Trade-Fair Trade debate was contentious at the 2000 Congress and hotly debated at the following ALP National Conference, Burrow says the debate has moved on.

"There is general acceptance within the broad labour movement now that labour standards, along with human rights and environmental safeguards, need to be a part of all trade agreements.

"What has changed is that we are now dealing with an array of bilateral treaties, as well as the continuing multilateral trade agreement through the Doha Round of trade talks," Burrow says.

Significantly, NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson says he would be inclined to back a policy that placed worker rights at the centre of trade negotiations.

At the last Congress, Robertson's predecessor Michael Costa opposed the 'Fair Trade' agenda pushed by the AMWU's Doug Cameron and other left unions.

"Forcing labour standards into trade agreements is one way to give Australian workers a fighting chance in a global economy," Robertson says.

"It's important that unions unite on this issue and really put the acid on the Howard Government to stand up for Australian workers."

Click here to read the full trade policy:


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