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Issue No. 213 19 March 2004  

Pay For View
While the ABS latest figures show union density is stable, behind the headline rate of 23 per cent lie some interesting trends.


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.


 "Grubs" Derail Revolution

 Blackouts Hit Sydney

 Pig-Out at Restaurant

 Smith’s Charity Begins At Work

 Air Rage Set To Soar

 Boxers Union Lands First Blow

 Drug Tests On Hold

 "Anarchy" Warning from Builders

 Burmese Generals at it Again

 Sugar: Sweet Taste of Survival

 Workers Endorse "User Pays"

 State Water, Forests Face Sell-Off

 Pirates and Ports for Classroom

 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

 Grubby Poseur
 Tom On Drink
 Howard Screws Vets
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Burmese Generals at it Again

Australian unions are gearing up to fight for the lives of nine Burmese activists who have been sentenced to death for activities that include attempting to contact the International Labor Organisation (ILO).

One defendant received the death sentence after prosecutors alleged he had been found in possession of the ILO's report into forced labour in Burma and "other sheets of paper". All nine had been charged with high treason.

The world's largest trade union confederation, the ICFTU, has already written to Burma's military dictatorship calling the prosecutions fundamental violations of human rights. It accused the dictatorship, which had pledged to work with ILO to stamp out forced labour, of "blatant hypocrisy".

Burma has been the target of international sanctions since its military vetoed the results of a popular election, won by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, 12 years ago. It has kept Suu Kyi in prison or under house arrest for most of that time.

The ACTU's development arm, APHEDA, has helped co-ordinate Australian involvement in an international campaign to pressure businesses out of involvement with the rogue state. Most foreign investors had brought into joint ventures with the military dictatorship.

The campaign has scored at least two major successes with the enforced withdrawal of Triumph Bras and British American Tobacco.

Democracy activists have accused Burma of systematic abuse of international labour laws, including the use of forced labour to keep down costs.

The ILO, an arm of the United Nations, is investigating the latest death sentences.

"Burmese authorities must drop these charges and ensure the defendants are released from prison," the ICFTU said from its Brussels headquarters this week. "Anything short of that would show a flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights."


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