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Issue No. 201 31 October 2003  

Criminal Logic
It has taken the tragic death of 16-year-old Joel Exner to focus public opinion on laws that allow an employer guilty of killing a worker to get off paying a measly $1800.


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!


 It's Official - Life Worth $1800

 Bank Fesses-Up on Robbery

 Corrigan Straddles Robot

 Striking Guards Beat Chubb

 Killer Company Cuts And Runs

 Call Centre Loses Its Sensis

 Greens Set to Bowl Workers’ Homes

 The RSL With No Beer

 Law Rewritten To Get Workers’ Cash

 Pressures Lead To Truckie Deaths

 Soup Kitchen Signals Bleak Future For TAFE

 Art For Workers Sake

 Carr Sweeps Cleaners Off Their Feet

 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 Labor
 Industrial Manslaughter
 The Miracle Of Tom
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Corrigan Straddles Robot

Patrick boss, Chris Corrigan, is ideologically wedded to badly-behaved robots, according to Brisbane wharfies.

Revolutionary robot straddle cranes, championed internationally by Corrigan, have been implicated in at least two embarrassing behind-the-sheds incidents at Fisherman Islands Berth 7.

Photos of the indiscretions are known to be circulating but Corrigan, or his agents, have been successful, thus far, in preventing their publication.

Patrick has been trialling the un-manned straddles for 14 months at Berth 7, whilst using human beings to do the work in a more traditional manner at Berths 1, 2 and 3.

According to waterside workers, privy to some of the straddles' shennanigans, they have been getting up to no good.

On Monday, October 13, one of the GPS (Global Positioning System)-controlled contraptions, Automated Straddle 9, threw a wobbly, hurtling more than three metres past the electronic barrier supposed to mark off its territory. The giant robot crashed through a metal panel fence into the adjoining reefer area.

One week later, according to MUA Brisbane officials, two of the monsters had an altercation on the dock, at least one of the combatants limping away with with its cab stoved in.

But the union's South Queensland deputy branch secretary, Trevor Munday, says their biggest shortcoming is productivity.

"Productivity levels at Berth 7 are well below those of 1998 which Patrick used as an excuse to illegally sack our members with Federal Government support," Munday said.

Munday says the automatic straddles are only loading or unloading a third of the containers being turned around by workers at the company's other three berths. Robots are averaging about 70 movements a shift while their human counterparts do between 200 and 240.

"The attraction appears to be ideological," Munday said. "They say it cuts their labour costs but if the system actually worked it would be in use at terminals around the world that have greater movements than Brisbane."

An overseas stevedoring firm briefly operated an automated berth in Holland but the experiment was shut down several years ago.


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