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Issue No. 202 10 November 2003  

Governing the Corporates
Suburban branch manager Joy Buckland’s bid for a position on the ANZ Board raises important questions about the way our major companies are governed.


Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. It’s all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.


 Taskforce Sleeps As Cranes Crash

 Scabies, Filth in Upmarket Annandale

 ANZ Jumps For Joy

 Race That Couldn’t Stop Nangwarry

 Mandarins in $120m Disappearing Act

 BAT Stubs Out Junta

 Millions on Entitlements Line

 Workcover in Hold-Ups Gun

 Phoenix Rises … Again

 TAFE Takes To Thong Slapping

 Casual Work Is Health Hazard

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the ‘creative partnership’ between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

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Mandarins in $120m Disappearing Act

Body hire giant, Manpower, has pulled a cone of secrecy over million dollar contracts with the state of NSW to avoid revealing which departments it contracts with.

USU secretary, Brian Harris, says senior public servants are in "cahoots" with labour hire companies, including Manpower, to deny unions access to workers employed on state government contracts worth $120 million.

Harris says the evasions are a "clear breach" of a Memorandum of Understanding thrashed out between NSW Labor Council and the state government.

Labor Council, last week, resolved to go over the heads of Commerce Department officials to urge the Commerce Minister to enforce the MOU.

The USU is one of a number of unions supporting Labor Council's historic Secure Employment Test Case but its efforts to gather information on labour hire penetration, wages and employment standards have been stone-walled by companies like, Manpower, and senior departmental officials.

Manpower refuses to divulge what departments it contracts with.

"The (Commerce) Department's own records show that up to $120 million worth of labour hire services are procured by various departments under contract 1078," Harris says.

"Accordingly, we wrote to all the labour hire companies who are providers under this contract and requested that they provide the names of departments they supplied services to, so we could organise appropriate times to meet with their employees.

"This action is consistent with the MOU on goods and services the Labor Council has with NSW Government.

"Manpower, and a number of other companies have declined to provide this information. Even more disturbing is the attitude of senior members of the Department of Commerce who claim such fundamental information, that would allow unions to organise workers, is not allowable under the MOU."

In a letter to the USU, Manpower cites three grounds for hiding the whereabout of its employees:

- the Privacy Act

- client confidentiality

- appropriate industrial coverage

Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, said the "excuses" didn't hold water.

He called the Privacty Act claim "ridiculous" given that the union had sought no names or addresses of individuals, and said union coverage had never been a matter for employers.

"Obviously, departmental officials aren't telling these companies about their obligations under the MOU," Robertson said.

"They can run and hide but we will be going to the Minister and insisting that he tell these clowns to face up their responsibilities."


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