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Issue No. 193 29 August 2003  

Smells Like Community Spirit
Over the past view weeks Labor Council has been undertaking some focus groups to gauge community perceptions to unions. The result is a massive wake up call for those of us who want a union culture to survive into the 21st century.


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 monthís 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.


 Iranians Expelled Over Teen Affair

 IR Promises Crash on Motorway

 Telstra Pigs Out on Indian

 Teachers Fight Casual Attitude

 Superstars in EBA Showdown

 Sink One with Billy

 Abbott Asked to Consider Honesty

 Printerís Win Drink Stink

 WorkCover To Take Robbery Seriously

 Power Blackouts Expose Jobs Shortage

 Qantas Woes Set To Soar

 Sports Workers Walk

 Bigger Money Player Equals Job Cuts

 Indonesian Human Rights Appeal

 Activists 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.

 A Nice Letter
 Tomís History Of The World
 Tony Is A Tool
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Power Blackouts Expose Jobs Shortage

Blackouts around the state last weekend may have been caused by high winds, but they were compounded by jobs cuts linked to the corporatisation of the power industry, the Electrical Trades Union said today.

ETU state secretary Bernie Riordan says a union analysis of the power industry since the break-up of Pacific Power in 1996 had found:

- a 40 per cent cut to field staff at Energy Australia and Integral Energy - responsible for maintaining and repairing lines

- outsourcing of tree clearing around power lines, leading to greater chances that high winds will bring down lines

- insufficient training of apprentices creating a long-term skills shortage in the industry

- and demands from the NSW Government for higher dividends creating a drain on resources within the power entities.

Riordan says all these factors had contributed to the high number of blackouts over the past week.

"A well-resourced power sector won't stop storms like last weekend's occurring, but it will ensure that the impact on the public is minimised," he says.

"In NSW we have an industry that is constantly under pressure to cut costs and deliver a greater dividend to government.

"In the long run it is the public that suffers through reduced services, with the impact felt at times when it matters most - like last weekend."

British Collapse Questions National Grid

The warning came as the electricity grid in Britain collapsed - in what the ETU has described as a timely reminder of how important the continuity of electricity supply is to the proper functioning of any society.

"Today's problems in Britain follow similar serious incidents recently in eastern parts of the United States and Canada," ETU national secretary Peter Tighe says.

"Unless major changes to investment and maintenance workforce levels are introduced in the Australian industry it is only a matter of time before Australian households and businesses suffer similar serious disruptions. We need to reverse the expenditure-reduction madness in this industry before it is too late.

Tighe says the introduction of a national industry regulator - currently under consideration by COAG - along the market-driven lines proposed, will only lead to further dangerous cuts in investment and labour force levels across Australia's electricity generation, transmission and distribution industry.

The power companies themselves have admitted last week, through the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESSA), that the industry needs as much as $30 billion in investment in the next few years just to keep up with demand.

That includes $15 to $18 billion on new distribution facilities, $5 billion on power generation, $3 billion on transmission facilities and $3 billion on renewable energy generation.


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