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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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Strip – Howard’s Order to Shoppies

Westco Jeans used Coalition Government’s award stripping to force female workers into skimpy t-shirts emblazoned with one message to customers – "Stop Pretending You Don’t Want Me".

Senior manager, Andrew Hart, told staff around Australia that resistance would be futile.

"NO T-shirt equals NO work," he insisted in a memo revealed this week by The Australian newspaper. "Any team member that does not dress correctly for work will be sent home.

"The company at great expense has provided these T-shirts and they should be worn with great pride."

But they weren't. One Melbourne shop assistant who wore a barrage of offensive comments refused to wear the garment and was told to go home.

Westco Jeans staff in a Bankstown outlet flatly refused to wear the offensive shirts.

Melbourne Trades Hall's Jobwatch blew the whistle on the company, accusing it of failing in its obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment. It's involvement led Westco Jeans to withdraw its directive, described by The Australian as "draconian".

The company's ability to put female staff in such an invidious position has been sheeted home to the Howard Government's policy of forcibly stripping awards back to 20 matters it deems "allowable" .

That policy removed a provision from the federal Shop Assistants Award that stated employers could not require employees to wear revealing or indecent clothing that would cause harrassment.

Shadow Workplace Relations Minister, Craig Emerson, called the Government's demands "ideology gone mad".

He demanded an explanation from Minister, Kevin Andrews.

"How can he defend the immoral exploitation of women made possible by his award stripping agenda?" Emerson asked. "The previous provision cost employers nothing, and its removal could hardly be said to have assisted productivity."

Andrews is currently sponsoring a Bill, the Workplace Relations Amendment Bill 2002, that would lead to another round of award stripping. It seeks to remove negotiated clauses on skills-based classifications, training, jury service payments and long service leave from federal awards.


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