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Issue No. 203 14 November 2003  

Beyond the Workplace
The NSW union movement’s intervention this week into the debate over the future of public transport is an important step in redefining what unions are all about.


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.


 Hamberger Bad for Kids

 BHP Faces UN Sanction

 Hardie Shareholders Face Death

 Road Workers Swing Left-Right Blows

 Joy Battles Goode at ANZ

 Developers To Kick Transport Can

 ACTU Names Its Price

 Death By A Thousand Cuts

 Ban Holes Water Police Deal

 Cleaners Mop Up Contracts Mess

 Workers Entitlements Dumped

 Overtime Goes Bush

 Libs Push Lawyers Picnic

 Unions Set To Stand Up To Bullies

 Jack Thompson Headlines Launch

 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.

 Burma Up In Smoke
 Super Solidarity
 Perils Of Pauline
 Put A PM On The Barbie
 Tom Holds Water
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Developers To Kick Transport Can

Property developers should contribute more to the costs of establishing public transport, if NSW is to avoid following the lead of California and become a society reliant on private vehicles.

The proposal to extend the use of Developer Contributions is one of the recommendations of a report into the future of public transport in NSW prepared by the Labor Council of NSW.

Under the proposal, the government would hit developers for the increased value of land due to rezoning or the provision of improved public transport services.

The report also calls for the Carr Government to implement planning proposals to link all land releases with public transport plans, form the time development commences.

Launching the report, Labor Council secretary John Robertson said the proposals were part of a community vision for public transport that went way beyond the economics of the Parry Inquiry currently under discussion.

The report 'Our Public Transport' commissioned by the Labor Council of NSW and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, draws on more than 100 submissions from community organisations and individuals, warning that NSW is at a crossroads.

"Already, we have seen how a road-dominated transport system in California has led to a system dominated by private motor cars, with high pollution and gridlock being the community costs," Robertson says.

Road and car parking currently takes 40 per cent of Sydney's total land area - some of which could otherwise be dedicated to public space and affordable housing.

The report details proposals to improve public transport including:

- tax breaks for employers who offer public transport fares as part of salary packages

- changing the formula for budgeting road and transport funds, to take better account of overall costs and benefits to the community

- and an action plan for regional NSW that links transport with economic development, including maintaining rural rail services.

"Increased investment in public transport pays off, because it reduces public spending in other areas including road maintenance, care of accident victims, improved health and increased public space," Robertson says

"What this process shows is that by talking to the community, rather than a small group of vested interests, we can develop a sustainable vision for transport over the next 25 years. "

Safety Laws Strip Worker Rights

Meanwhile, rail workers are up in arms about new state legislation that would strip rail workers of their basic civil rights before the Carr Government's new Rail Safety regular.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union says that officers of the regulator will have greater powers than the police in investigating rail safety issues.

These power include the right to enter private property without a warrant and removing the right of people being investigated not to incriminate themselves - with fines of up to $55,000 for people who refuse to answer questions. There are also concerns about the protection of 'whistleblowers' under the new Act

AMWU state secretary says there was no consultation with unions in developing the laws, which were rushed through Parliament last week.


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