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Issue No. 211 05 March 2004  

Be Afraid
Elections are to be held both here and with our controlling shareholder this year and already we are getting the feel for how the incumbents will attempt to cling onto power: fear spiced with loathing.


Interview: Baby Bust
Labor's Wayne Swan argues that the plight of our aging workforce is only one side of our demographic dilemma.

Safety: Dust To Dust
Failure by authorities to police safety in the asbestos removal industry is threatening the lives of members of the public, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

International: Bulk Bullies
An extraordinary five month struggle over affordable health care, by nearly 70,000 Californian supermarket workers, has just come to an end, writes Andrew Casey.

History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Green Bans saved a piece of bush before they saved much of the Sydney’s built environment, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Tim Anderson reveals Australia’s second betrayal Of East Timor is playing out before our eyes.

Review: The Art Of Work
Workers and westies are being celebrated as the cultural icons they are thanks to two Sydney exhibitions reminding us there is a world of art in the everyday, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Wondering where the next porkie is going to come from? Resident bard David Peetz knows.


 Taskforce "Disgraced" in Court

 Students Take $10,000 Trim

 Truckers Lose Way With GPS

 Jockeys Down by Width of Strait

 Treasury Loses Sight of Trees

 Athens Built on Sweat

 Signing Away Safety

 Fallen Formworker Critical

 Stop or You’ll Stay Blind

 Bracks Spin Machine Towels Nurses

 Trade Deal Fuzzy on Content

 Good Will Still Hunting on Rail

 Developer "Monsters" Safety Cop

 Day Off for May Day

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Iraq and Your Mortgage
How high interest rates go will be a key issue in 2004 and if you are looking for a clue, there's no better place to look than the war in Iraq, writes Michael Rafferty.

Hang Onto the Day Job
Show someone else the money, says Phil Doyle.

Westie Wing
Ian West shows why Eveleigh Street’s not so far away from Macquarie Street

Don’t Give Up the Fight
Get Up, Stand Up is the logo of choice on a popular range of subversive condoms. Ken Davis from Union Aid Abroad reports from Zimbabwe’s second city

 Bring Back Bulk Billing
 Crucifying Refugees
 Saving The Planet
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Athens Built on Sweat

Labor rights are under the global spotlight in the lead-up to the Athens Olympics, with a report charging major sportswear companies with union-busting.

The ‘Play Fair’ campaign, spearheaded by Oxfam and Global Unions, calls on the International Olympic Committee to force sportswear companies such as Fila, Puma, Umbro, Asics and Mizuno to clean up their acts.

The report, released this week, finds that the giant sportswear brands are violating the rights of millions of workers around the world in order to fill shops with the latest and cheapest sports shoes, clothes and accessories in time for the Athens Olympic Games.

It exposes the ruthless tactics used by the sportswear industry to produce the latest fashions, cheaper and faster and to ever more punishing deadlines.

In order to deliver, suppliers are forcing employees to work longer and harder, denying them their fundamental workers' rights.

Play Fair researchers spoke to workers such as Phan from Thailand and Fatima who works in an Indonesian factory that supplies Fila, Puma, Nike, Adidas and Lotto:

"We do not feel we can demand higher wages, welfare and legal status," said Phan. "If I don't complete my daily target within regular work hours I have to work overtime without pay... I don't feel that I have job security..." said Fatima.

"The sportswear industry is spending heavily on marketing in the run up to this year's Olympic Games which is supposed to be a showcase for fairness and human achievement," ICFTU general secretary Guy Ryder says.

"But the exploitation and abuse of workers' rights endemic in the industry is violating that Olympic spirit."

Play Fair draws on the testimony of workers and factory managers in Bulgaria, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Turkey. These findings show that:

o Companies' promises to behave responsibly are often superficial and lacking in credibility, and are ignored by company buying teams who use cut-throat tactics to reach their targets;

o Factory managers are failing to meet the high-pressure demands from companies and comply with rules on respecting labor standards at the same time;

o The industry is therefore undermining the very labor standards it claims to uphold; some factories falsify records routinely in order to pass inspection and there is plentiful evidence of workers enduring abusive and exploitative working conditions or being sacked for joining a union.

The Play Fair campaign brings together workers and consumers all over the world to urge the sportswear industry to change the way it works.

Events are planned this year to push the IOC and the industry to work with NGOs and union organizations such as the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation to embrace "ethical sourcing" and make their promises a reality.

For the full report and campaign details go to:


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