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Issue No. 207 22 December 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

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!’?

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 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

C O L U M N S

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

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

Culture
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.

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

L E T T E R S
 Tom On Mark
 Looking The Otherway At Christmas
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

MUA Members Play Santa


MUA members delivered sightseers and commuters an early Christmas present by refusing to collect fares last Saturday.

The ferry workers voted Sydneysiders a free day out on the harbour when they met to consider the breakdown of enterprise agreement talks at a stopwork meeting on Friday, December 19.

Workers on Sydney Ferries have backed a decision at the stopwork meeting to take their claims through the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

"Management have launched an aggressive attack on rosters," said MUA Branch Secretary Robert Coombs. "Sydney Ferries told our members that all rosters are up for grabs and they intend drastic cut backs on crew, especially gate hand and revenue staff. This would compromise passenger safety, customer service issues and employee welfare."

The union has called for Sydney Ferries to engage an independent facilitator to examine all the issues, but management has rejected this.

"It's galling that the union supported the recent corporatisation of Sydney Ferries so that the operation could be run on better corporate governance guidelines only to be met with cutbacks to employee procedures and working conditions," says Coombs. "It's totally unacceptable. It will only add to, not overcome the already massive problems of transport infrastructure in NSW."


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