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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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Casual Affair On The Buses

An Illawarra bus driver with four years of continuous service has been turned down for a $3000 car loan because he was casual.

Kevin Morris, 53, is forced to work split shifts where he can be paid for as little as five hours during an eleven hour stint. He has no sick pay and, he said, a recebt bout of flu had left him financially "buggered".

Turned down for a loan by both banks and credit unions, because of his casual status, Morris was forced into an expensive hire purchase arrangement.

Over 70% of the private bus industry workforce are casualised. Morris has colleagues who have been casual for up to ten years and he points out that more casuals are being employed all the time.

The situation has prompted the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to launch a case to secure the right for casual drivers to become permanent of they wish.

Employer groups and the Federal Government are resisting calls to reign in the growing use of casuals in the name of 'flexibility'.

"What flexibility!" says casual bus driver Kevin Morris of his job. "They bring us in when they want and we have got to sit around all day waiting to work. We have no rights at all."

Morris was told he had no rights by a manager who also said, "we can do what we want".

How casualisation is used as a management tool became apparent when Morris pressed to become permanent. A manager told him that if he "kept his nose clean" the manager "might be able to do something". For Morris that was a hint for him to not be vocal about his working conditions.

"Drivers are working 50 hour weeks and being treated as second class citizens,' says TWU organiser Mick Pieri. "They should be given the opportunity to go permanent."

The TWU has labelled the situation of casual drivers as a "new class of working poor".

The TWU case to give long term casual bus drivers the right to go permanent is continuing before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.


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