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Issue No. 194 05 September 2003  

Relatively Speaking
At its heart, political debate has always been a struggle between competing views about how a society should organise itself to maximise the benefits for the majority of its citizens.


Interview: Crowded Lives
Labor frontbencher Lindsay Tanner talks us through his new book on the importance of relationships and why politics is letting the people down.

Activists: Life With Brian
Work by men like Brian Fitzpatrick is exposing new Australians to old truths. Jim Marr reports

Industrial: National Focus
A showdown looms in Cancun, Qantas gets bolshie, casual and lazy in its response to aviation challenges, and long festering disputes fester on in Victoria and Tasmania reports Noel Hester in this national wrap.

Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Trades Hall is preparing for a major facelift but first, Jim Marr reports, it must bid farewell to the colourful bunch who have populated its dusty corridors in recent years.

Economics: Beating the Bastards
Frank Stilwell looks at some of the proposals for building a fairer finance sector.

Media: Three Corners
So its come to this. Four Corners, one of the world's longest running television programs is now under pressure from an ABC Executive that is less cultural visionary than feral abacus.

History: The Brisbane Line
Percy Spender was Menzies' foreign minister, but, Neale Towart asks, was he also prepared to serve as Prime Minister in a Japanese controlled Australia?

Trade: The Dumping Problem
Oxfam-CAA helps set the scene for this month's World Trade Organisation in Cancun.

Review: Frankie's Way
In The Night We Called It A Day Frank Sinatra learns 'sorry' Down Under is a loaded word and refusal to say it when due will lose fans in important places, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Truckies Tip Safety on AGM Floor

 Geelong Lockout Claims Family Homes

 Aussie Labour Laws Fail US Test

 No Accident – Insurance Dough Rises

 Union Mum Wins

 Rheem Runs Cold On Entitlements

 Unions Take It Up for Footballers

 Drug Boss Fails Workers

 Ministers Urged to Take Responsibility

 Museum Jobs Face Extinction

 Less News And More Of It

 Legal Costs Threaten Access

 Learning for Life

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Staking Our Territory
ACTU secretary Greg Combet argued for a fairer Australia in his keynote address to last month's ACTU Congress.

The Locker Room
Seasonally Agisted
Spring is a season when a person’s thoughts turn to…horse racing. Phil Doyle reports on the fate of nags and folk heroes.

Beyond the Block
We are wild about the people who live in The Block but not too interested in those who are on the streets outside, writes Michael Rafferty.

The Westie Wing
Workers friend Ian West MLC, reports form the Bearpit about a project to raise awareness about trade unionism amongst young people.

The Awkward Squad
Paul Smith meets one of the new generation of British union leaders who is taking the ball up to the Blair spin team.

 Lyon Roars
 Spicey and Tart
 Tony and Pauline
 PNG Bags Plastic
 Fighting Words Craig Emerson
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Geelong Lockout Claims Family Homes

The Geelong Wool Combing lockout that has cost three local families their homes was this week branded "criminal".

Workers Online understands another three families have approached real estate agents about the prospects of selling their homes as 93 employees bid to hold out against company demands for massive clawbacks.

Employees confirmed the lockout had also been a "significant factor" in the failure of a workmate's 36-year marriage.

Geelong Wool Combing locked out its workers, under legislation introduced by the Howard Government, after they refused to agree to demands for 25 percent wage cuts, unlimited casualisation and the unilateral right of the company to change hours of work.

TCFUA Victorian secretary, Michelle O'Neill, confirmed that three of her members had had to sell their homes and that three more were actively considering the prospect.

"Three homes have gone," she said. "The support of other members, and other unions, down here has been great but these people have been forced to sell up. They were no longer able to meet their mortgage repayments.

"For a company to be able to starve workers into submission and to cost them their family homes is criminal, whether or not is sanctioned by the Workplace Relations Act," she said.

O'Neill said workers had been sustained by their own strength and the active support of other trade unionists.

A community rally in the heart of Geelong, last week, drew 3000 supporters and raised tens of thousands of dollars. Representatives of the CFMEU, MUA and AMWU handed over substantial cheques representing money raised by workplace collections.

O'Neill related the story of locked out workers addressing unionists at a nearby Shell plant and receiving a telephone call pledging $23,000 within an hour of leaving the site.

Geelong Wool Combing workers have maintained a 24-hour, seven day a week protest outside the company's gates since they were forced off site in May.

Federal Court decisions in two cases stemming from the protracted lockout are expected next week.

The TCFUA is contending the lockout is illegal, alleging it is a front for a stand-down arising from a combination of factors including the drought and the depressed wool market.

Geelong Wool Combing counter filed, accusing the union of attempt to "coerce" it into an agreement. O'Neill, assistant secretary, Jenny Kruschel and 10 Geelong members are named as co-defendants.


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