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Issue No. 206 05 December 2003  

A New Mark for Labor
Few of us who care about the future of the labour movement would not admit to a surge of hope and sense of excitement following the election of Mark Latham to the federal parliamentary leadership.


Interview: Muscling Up
Labor�s Craig Emerson discusses how the changes to his party�s leadership will impact on the industrial relations agenda.

Unions: Thinking Pink
What�s the difference between a Nursing Home and an Aged Care Facility? More than semantics, according to nurses worried Australia is woefully unprepared for the crash at the end of the baby-boom cycle, writes Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Global Bully
If nothing else, US-based call centre giant TeleTech is consistent. After being nosed out of last year�s Bad Boss gong it is back, bigger and badder than ever in its search for Tony honours.

Unions: National Focus
In this national round up by Noel Hester, Hugh McKay tells us how the young are sticking together in a bewildered society, the gongs get handed out at the ACTU awards and there is a chance to win as a worthy wordsmith.

Economics: Friend or Flunkey?
On New Years Day as you look at the wine stains and tread on a soggy puddle on the carpet, will you look for the phone and call a cleaner? Gabrielle Meagher gives a few ethical dilemmas to confront before you make that call.

History: Young Blood
Youth is no barrier to political leadership, as the 37-year-old John Watson proved 100 years ago, writes Neale Towart.

Industrial: Living For Work?
Mark Hearn reports from a recent conference addressing the dilemma of work, citizenship and community.

International: Fighting Together
The international trade union movement is launching a Global Unions HIV/AIDS campaign to combat the spread of the virus.

Poetry: Medicare Plus Blues
Is the Government's new health plan a plus for Medicare? Asks resident bard David Peetz

Review: Human Racing
Seabiscuit is a great horse movie but more than that it serves as a powerful metaphor for the importance of living for the future while maintaining passion and compassion in the present, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Peeking Dicks in Pickle

 Lights Out on Cheap Labour

 Blackout Hangs Over Sydney

 Contractors Hang Up on Telstra

 Uni Workers Too Smart For Minister

 Employer Bullies Vie For �Tony�

 South Coast Deal to Build Movement

 TeleTech Safety Rep Vows to Fight On

 Corporates Urged to Come Clean

 MP Too Busy For Teachers

 Bosses Block Good Shops Code

 Engineers Ground Safety System

 Workers Win At Safety Meet

 Merger Threats

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Dear John
In his 500th piece of activist journalism, long-term Workers Online contributor Rowan Cahill sends a personal message to our prime Minister.

The Locker Room
Retired Hurt
Every innings comes to an end, some too soon, and others not soon enough, writes Phil Doyle.

Wedge Watch
Labor's Craig Emerson puts the spotlight on the Howard Government's politics of division.

The Westie Wing
Workers Friend Ian West MLC is back with his monthly round-up from Macquarie Street.

 Feds Ignore Building Deaths
 Bob Gould On Kicking The Liberals Out
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Contractors Hang Up on Telstra

Individual contractors are picketing, striking and blockading Telstra�s corporate headquarters in a bid to stop Australia�s largest company slashing their incomes by nearly 50 percent.

Hundreds of Foxtel and broadband installation technicians have flocked to join the CEPU (Communications, Elecrical and Plumbing Union) since Telstra signed cut-rate installation deals with contractors, Siemens-Theiss and ABB.

They have refused to sign on with the new contractors, effectively striking for the past week in Sydney and Melbourne, where around 90 contractors today used their vehicles to blockade Telstra's headquarters.

"Five years ago, Foxtel installers got around $300 for each installation, under the new proposal that figure would be $177," CEPU official Shane Murphy said, "that's a cut of almost 50 percent over that period.

"At the end of the day, it is typical Telstra, that's the way they operate, slashing the earnings of ordinary Australians in all parts of their workforce to ensure ever-increasing profits.

"In this instance, it negotiated with five different contracting companies. It had them in four or five times and finally locked in the two that would deliver another 20 percent cut in these workers' incomes.

"It's a ridiculous way of running Australia's largest business and it has to stop. In the meantime, individual contractors are flocking to join the union. We are well on our way to becoming the industry union again, covering not only employees of the carriers but sub-contractors as well."

Telstra, which has just signed a new four-year agreement with its chief executive that includes possible bonuses of $7 million a year, has used every device placed at its disposal by Federal workplace relations laws to slash worker incomes.

It was Australia's largest company that dialled up TeleTech to run call centres that would slash operator incomes by more than $6000 a year. It contracted regional call centres in places like Wollongong to Stellar who paid workers around $10,000 a year less than they would have earned on existing negotiated agreements.

Both Stellar and the US giant TeleTech used non-negotiable AWAs to force employees onto the lower rates, and ran aggressive campaigns to try and keep unions out of their workplaces. Both refused to recognised trade unions even after staff had joined up and asked them to represent their interests.


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