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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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Telstra Provokes Jobs Fight

Telstra plans to sell off another 1500 Aussie IT jobs to the lowest offshore bidder will be challenged at a rally outside its Melbourne headquarters, next week.

Exporting another raft of jobs is central to the telco�s plan to slash nearly $1 billion from its IT bill this year but the resistance of workers and community groups is certain to make the behaviour of Australia�s largest company a key issue in this year�s Federal election.

The ALP, Democrats and the ruling Coalition Government have already hinted as much, releasing contrasting positions on the 51 percent state owned operation, in the past seven days.

Labor Communications spokesman, Lindsay Tanner, has promised a more activist use of the Government shareholding. He claimed unjustified line rental hikes were fleecing consumers and committed the ALP to forcing Telstra to shed its 50 percent stake in Foxtel.

Tanner said it was "inappropriate" and "anti-competive" for the government owned giant to own a purely commercial activity like a pay tv network.

Democrats senator John Cherry also called for more social responsibility in Telstra management, arguing it was cutting infrastructure investment so it could return higher dividends to shareholders.

The Coalition has presided over a laissez faire approach to the company and made little secret of its desire for complete privatisation.

Under its watch, Telstra has cut more than 50,000 Australian jobs and begun to aggressively export well-paid IT jobs that were once touted as the saviour of the Australian workforce.

Last year Telstra subsidiary, IBM, was a key player in the sell-off of 630 tech jobs to lower paying Indian companies.

The company has announced that another $800 million worth of IT contracts are being reviewed with industry analysts saying most of that work is likely to be let offshore.

Some of these arrangements include human resource and payroll applications.

Opposition is being spearheaded by the CPSU, APESMA and the CEPU, and has brought in non-industrial groups such as the Australian Computer Society whose president, Edward Mandla, calls offshoring the "mother of all IT issues".

Those groups will kick off their public campaign with a rally on the corner of Lonsdale and Exhibition Streets, Melbourne, on Tuesday, February 24.

Heavy hitters, including ACTU president Sharan Burrow, CPSU secretary, Adrian O'Connell and Federal Labor front bencher Tannner have agreed to speak.

The rally was confirmed as Telstra reported a record half-yearly profit for the six months to Jan 31 of $2.29 billion.


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