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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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Bosses Block Good Shops Code

Moves to protect an estimated 50 000 outworkers in NSW, some working for as little as $2 an hour, have been blocked - despite five of the six members of the government's review committee supporting a binding code.

The code, part of the Behind The Label strategy, currently works as a voluntary option for retailers and sets out to ensure that retailers do not stock clothing made by exploited outworkers.

Five of the six stakeholders represented on the Ethical Clothing Trades Council (ECTC), including a peak retailer's body, supported the move to a mandatory code. The one objector was Australian Business Limited, who does not represent retailers, but had ideological objections to the introduction of any regulation.

The chair of the Ethical Clothing Trades Council, Mr Joe Riordan, believes that more time is needed to measure the effectiveness of the Voluntary Code.

Currently only 40 out of 1690 retailers are signatories to the voluntary code that makes available details of their suppliers, turnaround times and price structure to outworker's representatives.

"The Textile Clothing & footwear union of NSW (TCFUA) disagrees with the chair's reasons,' says Barry Tubner, Secretary of the TCFUA. "At this point in time there is not one outworker who is better off today than they were 12 months ago."

The ECTC had proposed that a mandatory code be introduced after a designated period, allowing signatories to the Voluntary code to remain on the less stringent voluntary code while non-signatories would be bound by the stricter mandatory code. If voluntary signatories broke the code they would be compelled to fall under the authority of the mandatory code.

Tubner, whose union is represented on the ECTC, believes the move to a mix of voluntary and mandatory regulation is a way of rewarding those retailers that do the right thing.

The move towards a mandatory code is a world first and other jurisdictions in Australia are watching developments in NSW closely.

"The minister should support the position of the retailers,' says Tubner. "Any government that doesn't move to protect outworkers isn't doing what people elect them to do."

"The vote took place four months ago and I haven't had one of those stakeholders call me up and say they've made a mistake. They have been watching closely what the minister will do."

With only a handful of retailers signatories to the voluntary code the lack of mandatory regulation remains a problem for outworkers.

"Retailers haven't formed a conga-line to sign up to be ethical," says Tubner.

The TCFUA also rejected the relevance of statistics that the 40 signatories to the voluntary code represented approximately 70% of retail clothing trade - as much of their clothing was imported and the code only applied to clothing made in Australia.

Clothing made by Australian outworkers was more represented in women's fashion retailers, many of whom were not signatories to the voluntary code.


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