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Issue No. 217 23 April 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

Textor Messaging
Those responsible for communicating the union movement’s message to the public met in Melbourne this week and invited none other than John Howard’s master pollster to give his perspective. The spooky thing was his message to unions was an optimistic one.

F E A T U R E S

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

N E W S

 "Slave Labour" in WA Revolt

 Vaile Orange – 200 Punted

 Right Turn Ends in Court

 Premier on Track to Nowhere

 Bosses Unite Against Holidays

 Miners Stand Up to "Bullies"

 All Out in the Gong

 Zoo Poo Stink

 Feared Beard in Shipping Scare

 Mayday … Footy Player Celebrates

 Teachers Roll Up for Discipline

 De-Skilling Australia

 Activists What’s On!

C O L U M N S

Postcard
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.

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

L E T T E R S
 More Than Cricket
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News

Right Turn Ends in Court


Back to back legal defeats for NRMA executives have opened the way for two million NSW motorists to decide the future of their patrol officers.

The Supreme Court in Sydney last week ordered the motoring organisation to hold a special general meeting to consider resolutions forwarded by AMWU assistant state secretary, John Parkin, and more than 4000 others.

Hard Right NRMA CEO, Tony Stewart, had been resisting a vote on his plan to contract out jobs and move patrol officers' from state to federal employment jurisdiction, although only 100 member signatures were required to force a special meeting showdown.

Parkin said 4200 paid-up NRMA members had signed the patrol officers' meeting demand in less than a fortnight.

Stewart has been playing hard ball since the officers' enterprise bargaining agreement expired more than a year ago.

Workers were recently warned of his intention to bring the matter to a head with an eight week lockout. That plan, too, was foiled last week when Federal IRC Commissioner Munro ruled ruled the NRMA play for federal status was outside his jurisdiction.

Stewart, fresh from corporatising Sydney Airport, had earlier launched a grab for officers' superannuation entitlements. Workers knocked that on the head with a four-day stoppage.

His regime then went public with its plan to contract out at least 100 of the 412 existing patrol officer jobs. To achieve that, however, Stewart had to move officers out of the reach of a state agreement that contains a clause forbidding outsourcing. Hence last week's IRC manoeuvering.

The NRMA was accused, in the NSW Parliament, of planning service cutbacks shortly after announcing fee increases to members.

The Supreme Court ruling will see NRMA members vote on the following resolutions ...

- that the wages and conditions of staff not be undermined

- that there be an end to the "discriminatory" situation of applying different wages and working conditions to patrolmen doing the same jobs

Following last week's court and IRC rulings, the NRMA asked the AMWU to resume discussions about the enterprise bargaining agreement.

Parkin said it was about time.

"If they want to talk we will be there," he said. "All these officers want to do is get this matter fixed up and get on with helping NRMA members."

He said officers were relieved the court had upheld their right to appeal to members because they didn't want to have to disrupt services to motorists.


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