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Issue No. 197 26 September 2003  

Coming to the Party
The coming NSW ALP State Conference marks an important moment in the changing relationship between the political and industrial wings of the Party.


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.


 Violence: Rail Workers' Hot Spray

 Corporate "Branch Stack" in Court

 Entitlements: Ball in Carr’s Court

 Asbestos Prospect for Home Buyers

 "Stand Over" Claims at Hilton

 US: Iraq on the Block

 Sheeps Of Shame

 Teachers Applaud TAFE Backdown

 Council Delays Sweat Shop Action

 Monk Aims Muscle at Unis

 Cobar Beats Off CBH Assault

 Sign Here For Reconciliation

 Workers Denied Home Loans

 Casual Approach No Holiday

 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.

 The Clown and the Magician.
 Shorter Hours
 A Sick War
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Asbestos Prospect for Home Buyers

Would-be home buyers at the old Prospect Quarry site are being warned to look out for green flourescent paint by shareholder activists battling to get health and safety onto the Boral agenda.

"The company has notified it will be painting a bright fluorescent green substance on top of all areas of asbestos contamination it has identified," Transport Workers Union secretary, Tony Sheldon, revealed this week.

Sheldon's union is the driving force behind six Boral Ethical Shareholders resolutions included in the official notice of meeting for the concrete company's October 21 AGM. One, calling for 30 percent of directors' income to be pegged to Boral's health and safety record, is the first OH&S resolution to go before an AGM of Australian shareholders.

All relate to health and safety, or corporate governance, and company directors have urged shareholders to reject every one of them.

Sheldon said Boral had won safety awards for its pamphlets and presentations but on the job actions didn't match its words.

He said a number of inspections of Boral sites, over 12 months, had turned up a string of OH&S concerns that directors should concern themselves with - in the interests of the workforce and shareholders.

"We have seen the death of a kiln worker and the blasting of three workers by hot cement," Sheldon said.

"Imagine standing there, the kilns open up and three of you are blasted by 700 degrees worth of hot cement. In some cases it welds onto your bones where the flesh has been burned away."

Boral Ethical Shareholders was established when 115 owner drivers, facing Supreme Court action over industrial measures in support of contract negotiations, bought shares in the company and formed their own ginger group.

With the TWU handling industrial strategy, Boral Ethical Shareholders took on corporate adviser, Michael Walsh, the publisher of Ethical Investor magazine, in a bid to force its issues onto the AGM agenda.

The drivers presented a comprehensive health and safety audit to back their call for the Boral board to establish a OH&S sub-committee to review procedures and report back to next year's AGM.

They are also calling for limits on executive remuneration and for directors' payments to be taken out of their hands and made the responsibility of shareholders, by vote at AGMs.

Instead, the Boral board will urge shareholders to give it the right to boost directors fees from a maximum of $650,000 to $1 million a year.

Undeterred by the director's recommendation, posted out with last week's meeting notice, the TWU has arranged meetings with institutional investors to lobby support for the Ethical Shareholders' resolutions.

NSW Labor Council will organise a meeting of all Boral unions to build industrial support for the campaign.


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