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Issue No. 210 27 February 2004  

Rock Of Ages
The Howard Government’s response to Australia’s aging population - to make them work longer and harder – is a small minded response to a mind-blowing problem, a perversion of the discipline of demography.


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.


 Siren Sounds on Asbestos "Scam"

 Youngsters Taken For A Ride

 Costello Necks Young and Old

 CFMEU Backs Redfern Jobs

 Della to Save Christmas?

 Time for Global Zone Out

 Equant's Pyramid Jobs Scheme

 Unions at Unis

 A Bridge Too Far

 Men Score Mat Leave

 Strikes Rock TAFE, Unis

 Health Maters To The Barricades

 Prison Officers Strike Back

 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.

 We Make Mistakes
 Taking The Piss
 Dear Mark
 Tom Goes Off I
 Tom Goes Off II
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Costello Necks Young and Old

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello’s landmark speech on superannuation is being lashed as "camouflage" for a declaration of war on blue and pink collar Australians.

ALP front bencher Wayne Swan told NSW Labor Council Costello’s rhetoric about choice for older Australians was the flip side of a commitment to force hundreds of thousands of disability pensioners back into the workforce.

"The people he is hunting for on disability pensions are nurses with bad backs and men who have been out there physically labouring - people whose bodies have worn out," Swan said.

"What he has said to those people is that this country does not value your contribution, irrespective of how hard you worked to make this economy strong."

Swan was referring to Costello's identification of 2.7 million "passive non-contributors to our society of whom only one sixth were active".

He said the five sixths Costello had targeted for re-entry to the workforce or enforced reporting, on pain of losing their benefits included 400,000 widows, mature age and disabled people, and 300,000 parents receiving income support payments to raise their children.

"When he can go out and take the axe to people on benefits because of disabilities or acquired disabilities everyone in this room should be very, very afraid," Swan said.

He said the Costello statement came in two parts and the second outlined the Howard Government's vision for two Australia's.

"The first said people of retirement age could continue to work and withdraw their Super if they wanted to. Well, who could disagree with that?" Swan asked.

"But the second which he had the hide to camouflage under that reasonable proposition was abhorrent.

"The one thing you could say about the package was that it was pretty good for those at the top end of town, for those in white collar occupations. But I will tell you what, it will hurt anyone who has spent a lifetime working in a low paid job, or anyone who wears a pink or blue collar."

Swan pledged the ALP to rejecting Costello's blueprint and developing, instead, fair policies on work, family and ageing.

He urged trade unionists to mobilise their "grassroots networks" in key NSW federal seats to ensure a change of Government at this year's Federal election.


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