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Issue No. 208 13 February 2004  

All The Way With FTA?
Question marks over the bi-lateral Free Trade Agreement with the USA have only begun to scratch the surface.


Interview: Trading in Principle
AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, a key figure in the Labor movement, discusses the big issues - from Mark Latham to Pavlov�s Dogs.

Unions: While We Were Away
While Workers Online was washing sand from between its toes and enjoying an Indian summer at the cricket, there was a reality show chugging relentlessly away in the background, Jim Marr reports.

Politics: Follow the Leader
Worker�s Online tool man, Phil Doyle, dives into the ALP�s Darling Harbour love-in and nearly drowns in treacle.

Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
The CFMEU has come up with a killer nomination to kick off our 2004 hunt for Australia�s worst employer.

Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
British academic, Kevin Doogan, sets the record straight on casualisation and warns unionists about the dangers of scoring an own goal

History: Worker Control Harco Style
Drew Cottle and Angela Keys ask if it's worth rememberinng the 1971 Harco work-in.

Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
The 1998 maritime dispute threatened to tear many a family apart but Katherine Thomson's Harbour tells the tale of at least one that it brought back together - albeit reluctantly, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Rail Safety Back On Track

 Commuter Headaches Continue

 Ban "Ruthless" Operators - Judge

 Telstra Provokes Jobs Fight

 Taskforce Ignores Million Dollar Rorts

 Musos Tune-Up for Election Rock

 Chubby Fingers in Timorese Pockets

 Postal Workers Wrap Boss

 Aussie Sites Doing the Business

 Feds Abandon Aged

 TAFE Stands Over Poor Students

 Round the World on Aid

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Dog Whistlers, Spin Doctor and Us
John Menadue argues the "better angels" of the Australian character are having their wings ripped off by an ever-expanding group dedicating to keeping the public at arms length from our decision-makers.

Something Fishy In Laos
Phillip Hazelton fishes around in Vientiane, Laos, and looks at the impact of Bird Flu on those relying on feathered friends for survival.

Magic Realism
Phil Doyle discovers that literature and sport may have more in common than you would think

The Westie Wing
Trickle, flood or drought? Workers friend Ian West, MLC, is wet, wet, wet on the issue of bilateral Free Trade.

 Reality TV
 TAFE Support
 State Of Confusion
 History Lesson
 Generation Angst
 Give Them A Medal
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Rail Safety Back On Track

Three days of "hell" have won Sydney commuters a safer rail system.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has secured a Memorandum of Understanding with rail chiefs that for the first time sets correct staffing levels for drivers and guarantees jobs for those who fail to meet new health standards.

"We will be working constructively to deal with the real safety issues," says RTBU Secretary Nick Lewocki.

The Memorandum of Understanding sets a number of commitments to address Drivers concerns. These include:

- a commitment to create 124 new positions to address the problem of driver shortages

- A commitment by rail bosses to move towards the new staffing levels. In the interim, drivers will be offered overtime bonuses.

- Disciplinary processes will be clarified to give driversv a better understanding of the procedure.

- Depot rostering will be improved.

- Half a million dollars will be spent to bring driver amenities up to standard.

"Each of the items [in the Memorandum] is what the delegates involved found were important to drivers," says Lewocki. "[It] has worked like a pressure valve. Things aren't perfect, but we'll live with this," Lewocki said.

He slammed the government and RailCorp's handling of the crisis.

"There was a high level of frustration amongst drivers that should never have got to this. This should have been dealt with constructively by sitting down with drivers instead of attacking drivers publicly," he said.

Transport Summit Call

Meanwhile a new peak group consisting of transport unions, community groups and local Government launched the NSW Transport Alliance, calling on the Carr Government to convene an urgent summit to deal with the state's public transport needs.

The NSW Transport Alliance believes the successful model used by Government to address both community drug and alcohol issues is the only way to cut through the current logjam of issues and provide practical solutions.

The NSW Transport Alliance believes the summit should address issues facing public transport in NSW, including investment, planning, the environment, the quality of public and fair access.

A summit will provide the Government with an opportunity to hear from key stakeholders, experts and transport users that will provide the platform for the development of a shared vision that will deliver a sustainable public transport system for the people of NSW.


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