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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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Chubb Beats Up On Own Guards

World Bank security staff in East Timor are on strike after Chubb Protective Company sacked 32 workers who wouldn’t cop a 30% wage cut.

The Confederation of East Timor Trade Unions (KSTU) said workers were sacked after protesting against Chubb's decision to cut their wages from $US133 to $US94 a month.

KSTU President Jose da Costa said that the 32 workers were maintaining a picket line at the Dili offices of the World Bank, where Chubb provides security and cleaning services. Chubb sacked the workers on December 4, a day after a strike and picket in protest against the wage cuts.

Mr da Costa said that the sackings were unconstitutional because the workers were involved in a lawful strike at the time. Chubb had also breached East Timor's Labour Code by failing to give the required 30 days' notice of termination.

The Confederation said that Chubb threatened workers that if they did not sign individual contracts cutting their wages, their employment would be terminated without compensation. Chubb forced the workers to sign the contracts without providing the opportunity to read them in their own language.

Chubb's hardline workplace policies have been an ongoing source of concern for East Timor's fledging union movement since 2000 when the company began operations in the country, where it employs around 800 people.

"There are other instances where Chubb has failed to abide by the national labour regulations over unpaid overtime, discrimination on salaries and recruitment without contract," Mr da Costa said.

This is not the first instance where Chubb has engaged hardline tactics overseas.

Industry sources report that in early 2003 Chubb sacked a 40-year-old security guard who had worked for Chubb for eight years on the basis that he was smoking marijuana on Nauru. The security guard, who had been working on Nauru for two years, was detained by local police and released. He was sacked because local police had charged him, yet those charges were dismissed in court the following day. The guard, with three young children to support, was forced to pay his own airfare home to Sydney from Nauru.


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