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Issue No. 207 22 December 2003  

Backs to the Wall
How does one judge a year like 2003, when on the surface the powers of darkness – read Bush and Howard and union-busting bosses - can point to the scoreboard and claim ‘we won!’?


Interview: Robbo’s Rules
Labor Council secretary John Robertson rules the line through 2003 and looks forward to a bigger and better year to come.

Unions: Fightback 2003
Tony Abbott, no less, summed up the tone of 2003 when he complained workers were frustrating his agenda, as Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: Madame Lash Whips Tony
Jim Marr explains how a local can manufacturer knocked off a quality field, including a notorious American call centre operator, in the race for Bad Boss honours.

Politics: United Front
Facing a new leader and new rules, Jim Marr speaks to key union players about the hot issues at January’s ALP National Conference.

Economics: Looking Back - Looking Forward
The year ends with the thought that 2004 must be better, writes Frank Stilwell in his annual review of all things economic.

International: Net Benefits
International editor Andrew Casey looks back on a year where workers stood up globally for services we once took for granted.

History: The New Guard
Who were Australia’s fascists in the 1930s and was John Howard’s father in the New Guard? Labour historian, Andrew Moore, uncovers some surprising information about Australia’s fascist past.

Poetry: What is the PM singing this Christmas?
Our Kirribilli spies, led by resident bard David Peetz, have been listening in on the PM's preparations for Christmas, and have recorded the Howard family rehearsing this new Christmas carol.

Review: Culture That Was
2003 saw the Howard Government signal its readiness to swap culture for agriculture in a free trade deal with the US and film maker George Miller lament that Aussie's had run out of stories to tell anyway, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 No Joy for ANZ - This Time

 Nurses, Teachers Win Big

 Govt Coy on Sackings Threat

 NSW: State of Discomfort

 Fashion Police Collar Moe

 Telstra Picks Up Union Signal

 E-Missiles Strike White House

 STOP PRESS: Doubts Over Driver Test

 Juggler Catches Union Gong

 Chubb Beats Up On Own Guards

 Commuters Face Long, Hot Summer

 MUA Members Play Santa

 Bennelong Grinch Strikes Again

 G’day To Union Made Wines

 Activists Notebook


The Guessing Game
We have consulted our regular list of mystics and gnostics to offer these throughts for the future.

Folk You Mate
Jan Nary looks at the role of workers songs in the upcoming National Folk Festival.

Shane Maloney – Crime Writer
For a crime writer whose books are set against a backdrop of unions and Labor Party politics, Shane Maloney confesses to little direct experience of either.

The Locker Room
Workers Online Sports Awards
Noel Hester and Peter Moss give their annual rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of sport.

The Web We Weave
Social Change Online's Mark McGrath's annual review of how unions are using the web to grow.

 Tom On Mark
 Looking The Otherway At Christmas
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Nurses, Teachers Win Big

Teachers and nurses have ended the year with more cash in their stockings but with key claims for wage justice still before the umpire.

An eleventh hour ruling by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission delivered public and private sector teachers a 5.5 per cent interim rise, while nurses ended their workvalue case with a net 10 per cent increase.

The teachers ruling, while a stop-gap as the Commission considers the case for a 25 per cent increase, is well above the Carr Government's three per cent offer and sets the scene for a spirited round of publilc sector wage negotiations in 2003.

Teachers are the first group of workers to commence enterprise bargaining negotiations, followed by fire fighters, health workers, public servants and police, who will all go into wage battle in the next 18 months.

The full teachers ruling, expected early in 2004, comes against the back-drop of threatened industrial action at the beginning of the school year.

The NSW Teachers Federation has warned that the interim ruling cannot be the end of the wages story and increased pressure on the Carr Government to indicate where the increases would be funded.

"The interim increase will be funded by increases to the public education budget, but the NSW Government is yet to commit to fully-fund any final decision," Federation president Maree O'Hallorhan says.

She also fired a broadside at the government for opposing any increase beyond three per cent in the Commission hearings.

No such reservataions for the Independent Education Union who received the full backing of Catholic educators in their case.

IEU state secretary Dick Shearman said the 5.5 percent, payable from 1 January 2004, was a welcome down-payment for significant increases in productivity over recent years.

"The bottom line is the community deserves a teaching profession that has the respect and support of employers - this decision is clearly a step in that direction," Shearman says

Nurses In Pre-Chrissie Win

The decision was preceded by the final ruling in the Nurses Work Value Case, which delivered a 3.5 per cent rise, on top of the 6.5 per cent interim increase previously awarded by the IRC.

The win, after a sustained campaign by nurses, means the majority of general ward nurses will receive a $36.00 per week pay rise. A full-time new graduate nurse will receive a rise of $26.00 per week.

The decision also agreed to give nurses a new legal entitlement to fair and safe workloads.

Mean while, teachers are left wondering how a government so supportive of nurses claim for wage justice can be so dismissive of their profession


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