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Issue No. 200 24 October 2003  

The Hard Yards
Two hundred issues of Australia’s first and only online workers’ magazine is due reason to celebrate. It is also a good time to look at what we’ve achieved over the past five years and consider where we need to go.


Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Rugby League Professionals Association president Tony Butterfield on his battle to deliver a collective agreement for NRL players.

Unions: National Focus
In this month’s national wrap: Noel Hester meets a heavy hitter talking up open source unionism, truckies front the suits at Boral’s AGM, tales of corporate bastardry and Medicare birthday revelry.

Industrial: Fools Gold
Unions have thrashed out a string of protocols with the NSW Labor Government. Some, now, are questioning whether they are worth the cheap, imported paper they are written on, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
Byron Bay chicken boners have nominated thier boss for a Tony after seeing their entitlements plucked.

History: The Gong Show
In late September the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) celebrated 75 unbroken years championing the rights of workers in the coastal Illawarra region 80 kilometres south of Sydney, writes Rowan Cahill.

Politics: The Hawke Legacy
The election of the Hawke Labor government twenty years ago holds some salient lessons for today’s Labor Party, writes Troy Bramston.

International: Sick Nation
As Australia celebrates 20 years of Medicare’s universal health coverage the crisis facing American workers in need of medical care is a useful reminder of what we’ve got – and what we stand, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Closed Minds
Philip Mendes looks at the political influence of right-wing think tanks, their financial backing and asks why the left hasn’t been able to get its ideas out there.

Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
He's had relations, with girls from many nations... but Billy Bragg seems to like us Aussies as much or even more than any of the others, writes Pádraig Collins.

Poetry: One Size Fits All
There once was a man from the Lodge - Who tried hard, our poems, to dodge... Resident bard David Peetz is back!


 Workers Rally For ‘Joel’s Law’

 It’s Official: Courts Weak on Safety

 Cole Insider Highlights "Agenda"

 "Racism" as Pacific Islanders Rorted

 Academics Appeal to International Umpire

 Conroy Crashes Boral Bash

 Poll Points to Hospital Overload

 Aussie Icon Set To Head Overseas

 China Gaols Union Activists

 Victory in Dili

 AWU Rejects Bid to Fleece Shearers

 People’s Bank to Hear From People

 Unions Put Students in Picture

 Memo ALP Members: Think About Unions

 New Face in the Hunter

 Activists Notebook


North By Northwest
Phil Doyle returns from up north, where he survived on nothing but goodwill, good people and a great big orange bus.

The Soapbox
The $140 Million Patriot
It would be hard to imagine a steeper slide from hero to zero than the experience of Richard Grasso, the now-deposed head of the New York Stock Exchange. writes Jim Stanford.

Bush's Bad News Blues
The Bush Administration is cooking up a new campaign 'to shine light on progress made in Iraq', writes Bill Berkowitz.

The Locker Room
A Tale Of One City
Phil Doyle gazes into the crystal ball for signs of life, and finds that somewhere the horses are running in the wrong direction.

With Banners Furled
There is no better account of the glory that was the annual Labour Day marches than that given by Kylie Tennant in Foveaux, her fictional account of life in inner Sydney in 1912, the year she was born.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite Macquarie Street MP, Ian West MLC, reports on the world of NSW politics.

The Cancun Wash-Up
The dramatic collapse of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, last month has been followed by a deafening quiet from Geneva, Brussels and Washington, writes Peter Murphy.

 Child Labour
 Advance Australia Where?
 God Save Us All
 US Seeking Aussie Info
 Call The Doctor
 Bring Back Gough
 Bring Back Social Democracy
 Look East, Look West
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"Racism" as Pacific Islanders Rorted

A North Sydney company has been accused of "racist exploitation" after seafarers from Fiji and Vanuatu were stranded for months in Bangladesh without food or water, and dudded of tens of thousands in wages.

ITF co-ordinator, Dean Summers, is pointing the finger directly at Faymon Shipping Pty Ltd, of Chatswood, after more than a year of trying to get someone to accept responsibility for 33 officers and crew who worked the ill-fated Pacific Emerald.

"Faymon Shipping has bought a Post Box in Vanuata and used it to evade its basic responsibilities," Summers said. "It's a racist thing. If our guys were Australians they would at least pay them but because these workers are Fijians and Vanuatuans they think they can get away with it."

Faymon managing director, Patrick Wong, failed to return calls from Workers Online today.

But his company isn't the only Australian business in ITF sites. Summers is also ropeable that Sydney-administrators, Hall Chadwick, still haven't paid seamen wages outstanding for more than a year.

He said the ITF had a written agreement with Hall Chadwick that outstanding monies would be remitted in three installments, finishing in August. First installments were paid but the workers are still waiting for the rest of their money.

"We can only assume they have the money because they have promised to pay it in writing," Summers said. "This case shows that some of the worst FoC abusers are right here in Sydney.

"In the leafy suburbs of North Sydney and the glass towers of the CBD we have wealthy men using the FoC system to abuse workers from developing countries."

The ITF was alerted to the plight of 33 seafarers aboard the Pacific Emerald after they had been left in Chittagong without food or water in August of last year.

After months of negotiations they agreed to unload their cargo of copra and the ship owners promised they would be paid in full and repatriated to their homelands.

The crew took the Pacific Emerald for wrecking but the second part of the settlement was never honoured. They survived months in Chittagong, without owed wages or regular food, on the generosity of local trade unionists.

Eventually, 13 of their number were repatriated, leaving 20 to be returned home at the expense of the Fiji and Vanuatu Governments. Most of the men returned to their homelands by last Christmas.

Since then the ITF has been trying to extract owed monies, first from Pacific Jewel, then the company's Sydney administrators.

"The Pacific Emerald is razor blades now," Summers said, "all it was good was scrap which goes to show the standard of ship these guys were on in the first place."

Alex Dampier of Hall Chadwick refused to answer any of the issues raised by the ITF promising to refer enquiries to administrator Jeffrey McDonald. McDonald, like Wong, did not return our calls.


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