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Issue No. 216 16 April 2004  

Joining the Dots
At first blush there appears little connection between the Howard Government’s handling of the War on the union movement and the War on Iraq – until you realise the key players come from the same team.


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


 Weekend Warrior Outed

 Dick’s Got Form

 Mum Burned By "Barbecue Stopper"

 RSL Bombs Vets

 Sweetener for Sugar Pills

 Death Highlights Risky Business

 Casual Affair On The Buses

 Athens Update: Dying Games

 Nuns Run Amok in Cessnock

 Roving Commission for Safety Reps

 Workers Order Ziggy on Toast

 Divers Down

 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.

 Sick Pay
 Tom’s A Furphy
 Rolling in Clover
 More War And Peace
 Invisible Workers
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Sweetener for Sugar Pills

The Federal Government has poured half a million taxpayer dollars into the pockets of a company trying to slash the wages of rural workers by 25 percent.

Mossman Mill Prop Ltd received the handout just as North Queensland employees voted down its plan to "fractionalise" them, earlier this month.

Fractionalise? It is, apparently, the magic bullet recommended by an out-of-state business consultant. The fraction, in this case, referring to what would be left of earnings after mill owners redesigned the calendar to include only 39 weeks.

The 65 fulltime employees left at the Mossman sugar mill, located about 20km north of Port Douglas, told owners to go away and think again, as boilermaker, Stan Wright, explained.

"This mill has been on a downhill trend for five years and workers have gone out of their way to help. We've taken voluntary redundancies, forgone pay rises and, two years ago, accepted a six-week stand down to pay the redundancies of 27 people who were willing to leave - that's the sort of thing people in small communities do," Wright said.

"But this is out of order. Basically, there is no more left to give. They are after entitlements we have fought for over the years and we aren't going to give them away."

Wright, who has worked at the Mossman Mill for more than 30 years, said the company would do better to offer redundancy to people ready to leave than expect them to sell out future generations.

AMWU organiser, Darren Trask, says Mossman typifies the difficulties facing the sugar industry - lack of investment, poor management and antiquated infrastructure.

"We reject selling off hard won wages and conditions as the answer," he said. "It is an industry problem and a community problem and that's why our union is pushing for broader solutions.

"If sugar is to have a future everyone must be heard and decisions should be taken in the interests of our communities. Workers and their families are stakeholders in the industry and insist on being treated accordingly."

AMWU members, including Wright, have already held discussions with Douglas Shire councillors and mayor, Mike Berwick.


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