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Issue No. 209 20 February 2004  

Regions To Be Cheerful
Rule changes endorsed by this week’s NSW Labor Council Annual General Meeting reorganising the South Coast Labor Council into as a regional branch council should not be under-estimated.


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.


 Trains Go Backwards

 Mum Can’t Bank on Westpac

 Andrews Up for Hanke Panky

 Riot Raises Safety Probe

 ABC of Solidarity

 "Shameful" Action Pays Dividends

 Bum Rap for Bump Caps

 Strikers Tie Down Gas Project

 Heat Rises at Uni

 TeleTech's Dead Heart

 Tired Drivers Fight Hypocrisy

 Seven Days on a Leaking Boat

 Families Back Safety Calls

 Howard Pushes Pay Cut

 Activist's 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.

 On the Road
 A Casual Affair
 Latham Is A Bad Man
 Congrats Johnny
 Tom’s Bit
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"Shameful" Action Pays Dividends

A week of "shameful" industrial action has returned pay rises, job security and shorter working hours to hundreds of rural Victorian workers.

More than 1000 food and maintenance workers employed by SPC Ardmona in the Goulburn Valley stood firm to beat off "disappointing" company EBA offers, backed by the Liberal Party’s propoganda machine.

The Libs blasted the actions of employees at the company's Shepparton and Mooropna plants as "shameful", predicting their incomes would rot away, along with those of farmers.

"Unions are demanding that SPC Ardmona workers receive a pay increase, increased job security and a 36-hour week. Basically, they want more money for less work," propagandists claimed in a statement endorsed by Victorian state director Julian Sheezel.

Two separate EBAs saw around 1500 process workers get 13.5 percent increases over three years and the maintenance workers, represented by the AWU, AMWU, FEDFA and CEPU, sign off on lesser wage increases in return for eight additional rostered days off each year.

AWU national secretary, Bill Shorten, pointed out SPC Ardmona maintenance workers had never struck during harvest time before. In fact, he said, they had helped keep the company afloat by volunteering for pay cuts in 1990.

AMWU representative, Ray Campbell, said job security had been the key issue for his members.

"They wanted the capacity to move employees anywhere around the Goulburn Valley which is a pretty big place. We were also aware that the company has been in acquisition mode," Campbell said.

Campbell said that objection had been overcome and his members had retained important voluntary redundancy provisions.

Both union officials blamed SPC Ardmona, headed by aggressively anti-union managing director, Nigel Garrett, for the stoppages.

Campbell said everyone thought they had agreement after months of negotiations until, prior to Christmas, SPC came back with an entirely new negotiating position. He called the approach "very disappointing".

Shorten said the stoppages could have been avoided if the company had realised it was the workforce that made its brand its brand so important.

"By taking legally protected industrial action for the last six days these workers have had a victory that will change the way they work at SPC forever," Shorten said.


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