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Issue No. 196 19 September 2003  

A Secret Country
So Tony Abbott has tabled his legislation to crush the CFMEU, while refusing to release the secret volume of the Royal Commission on which the recommendations are based.


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.


 Cole Skeletons Shake Monk

 Abbott Flags Move On Nurses

 Workplace Bullies Leave Three Dead

 People’s Bank Scraps People

 Left-Right Combo Drops Motorway Boss

 Free Wally - Movie Offer

 Detention for Minister Who Praised Scabs

 Cancun Flop Spurs Local Stars

 Public Sector: Cuts and Thrusts

 Medicare Cuts Take Cake

 Beating Around The Bush

 Other Half Lives It Up

 Anderson Ducks Mudgee Bill

 Deaf, Blind and Looking For Friends

 Filipino Vote Call

 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.

 Freedom from Choice
 Free Art
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Left-Right Combo Drops Motorway Boss

A new-found spirit of co-operation between key left and right wing unions has wrung $300 a week increases out of one of the toughest employers in NSW.

Members of the CFMEU and AWU, traditionally at loggerheads, are celebrating big wage increases after joining forces in a 10-day strike against the AbiLeightons joint venture building Sydney’s western orbital motorway.

Representatives of both unions conceded the breakthrough which will deliver extra wages, allowances and conditions equating to an extra $300 a week for around 500 construction workers, wouldn't have been possible if they hadn't buried traditional rivalries.

CFMEU organiser, Steve Dixon, said Abi Group had proved itself "one of the shittiest, most anti-union "operations in NSW.

"They are into severe intimidation and not just over wages," Dixon said. "They point-blank refused, across a 40km road project to provide any female toilets. That's the sort of company we were dealing with.

"To bring the workforce together and not fight between the CFMEU and AWU really made the difference. This company is used to getting its way, but when that happened it didn't know what to do."

AWU organiser, Lawrie Doherty, agreed. He said the joint venture company had made it perfectly clear that unless the two unions could get their "houses in order" employees would suffer.

"It doesn't take a brain surgeon to work out that if we don't work this way in the future we won't get the results," Dougherty said.

He said that while $300 a week increases sounded "fantastic" the joint venture had tried to screw employees down that far on allowances, conditions and wages that the negotiated movement of about 15 percent only brought employees up to industry standard rates.

Both unions said the influence Roads Minister, Carl Scully, had brought to bear on the employer had helped shorten the dispute, and publicly thanked NSW Labor Council officials, John Robertson and Chris Christodoulou, for helping steer them around their historical differences.


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