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Issue No. 215 02 April 2004  

Something Smells
There is something just a little too cute about the NSW government’s discovery of a budget crisis on the eve of public sector wage talks.


Interview: Terror Australis
The Howard Government has just discovered the nation's ports are a terrorist target. The International Transport Federation's Dean Summers has been warning them for years.

Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Hidden in the Australian Workers Union Sydney office is a mild-mannered industrial officer who once strutted the international cricket stage, writes Jim Marr.

Industrial: The Hell of Troy
On the basis of a couple of hours in the witness box, Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terence Cole described Troy Stratti as "credible". Six men who, together, have known the company director for the best part of 50 years beg to differ.

Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Traditional unions are rediscovering the power of grassroots organising. Paddy Gorman reports from the coal face.

Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
Evan Jones argues that economic policy making has been narrowed and rendered mechanistic and antiseptic.

History: Vicious Old Lady
Despite its Liberal leanings, the Sydney Morning Herald has never been shy of bashing unions, writes Neale Towart.

International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Thailand must end its crackdown on Burmese fleeing rights abuses in their military-ruled homeland, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Review: War Unfogged
Want to go to war but not sure where to start? Look no further than Errol Morris' latest doco-drama for the definitive 11-step lesson plan, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: TAFE
A TAFE student struggling under the weight of fees shares his wordly wisdom


 Gong Points Death Bone at Iemma

 Strip – Howard’s Order to Shoppies

 Workers Victory - We’re Legal!

 Compo Family Exiled to Peru

 Patrick Faces Million Dollar Fines

 Water Quality in Budget Back-Wash

 Feds Dodge Death

 Hard Men Melt Away

 Three Cheers for 36-Hour Week

 Dili Death "Down to Dollars"

 Builder Pleads Guilty

 Maternity Plan: Hard Labor?

 Life – Cambodia’s Grand Raffle

 Thumbs Up for Union Code

 Activists What’s On!


A Voice for Peace
Palestinian trade union leader calls on militants to lay down their arms while the ICFTU protests harassment of Palestinian union leader.

The Soapbox
The Double Standard Bearers
Nicholas Way argues that when it comes to collective action, the Howard Government has different views depending on whether you are a unionist or a small business.

The Locker Room
The Fine Print
While the result mightn’t be everything, it does make the back of the newspaper more interesting, as Phil Doyle reports.

The Westie Wing
Ian West crunches the numbers in Macquarie Street and finds virtue in deficit.

 War And Peace
 Getting Away With Murder
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Piers Watch


Part time Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, goes into the Tool Shed this week after falling on his face as a fashion critic.


We don't hear much from Kev the Rev these days, so when he strode to the dispatch box to issue a statement on T-shirts it was assumed that he would no doubt be discussing the miserable effort by Westco last week.

Instead of railing against the sleazy humiliation of the staff at the clothing retailer what did we get from the workers friend? A denunciation of union T-shirts on building sites.

This is a man that would be happy to see a thousand staff sexually harassed than for one to join the union.

Whatever world Kev is living on it sure isn't the real one. How would Kev feel if his daughter was forced into a T-shirt that had 'Stop Pretending You Don't Want Me' printed on it?

Andrews couldn't even bring himself to mention the Westco case. That would, of course, mean having to admit that things like individual contracts are leaving vulnerable workers exposed to this sort of abuse.

Instead he banged on about those naughty, bad building unions. Yawn! Do they seriously believe that anyone outside the League Of Rights believes that garbage?

His other great initiative this week was a move to change the law to allow the Federal Government to kill workers through it's own negligence, and then be able to walk away. What a goose!

How long will this intellectual pygmy spend his time hiding behind the Building Industry taskforce? No doubt the Federal Government is moving quickly to set up a Retail industry Taskforce. After all, this is about protecting working people from exploitation isn't it? Or is this government only interested in propping up sleazy employers?

The good Reverend and his coalition cohorts must be mystified as to why they can't seem to get any traction on the Union Bogeyman issue, especially as the union movement is obviously the spawn of Satan.

Well, but the events at Westco illustrate why.

Many working people are so under the pump that the idea that having someone to go into bat for you being a bad thing is laughable. Especially when the sort of thing that happens at Westco is pretty much a daily occurrence in one form or another at workplaces across Australia; with the Federal government giving employers carte blanche to do pretty much as they please to their fellow citizens.

Andrew's silence on this issue has been deafening, and speaks volumes for his and his government's grasp on reality. Instead of trying to fight the cold war by proxy, they might want to have a good look at what's really happening to people in the workforce.

Isn't there something in the good book about treating people as you'd like to be treated? If that's the case then our Tool Of The Week obviously feels that there is a need for people to dump on him from a great height, as he seems quite happy to do that to everyone else.

Maybe Kev should pull his head out of the bible a bit more often and have a look at what's happening to real people in the real world. But the chances of that happening are about that of a snowflake's chance in hell, which would be a good place for Kevin Andrews to go to after his finished with a stint in the Tool Shed.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


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