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Issue No. 220 14 May 2004  

Motherhood Statements
There is a term for political statements that are so bland they have lost their meaning � terms that no one could disagree with, designed to win the support of all people at all times.


Interview: Machine Man
It�s regarded as the most powerful job in the Party, but new NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib wants to build a bridge with the union movement.

Unions: Testing Times
Unions are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing, but they do want to see real safety issues addressed, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
FreeSpirit forked out a motza for a whiz bang internet presence then disappeared right off the radar � once it was nominated as our Bad Boss for May.

Unions: Badge of Honour
Surry Hills is home to one of the world�s finest displays of union badges thanks to Bill "The Bear" Pirie and a supporting cast headed by Joe Strummer, Mark Knopfler, George Benson, Annie Lennox and other seriously big noises.

National Focus: Noel's World
Shrill bosses bleat over minimum wage rise, union spinmeisters congregate in Melbourne and Tassie�s nurses take the baton from their mob in Victoria reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Economics: Safe Refuge
A humanitarian approach to refugees and an economically rational one?? I�d like to see that. Frank Stilwell did, when he went to Young in NSW to look into the impact of the Afghan refugees on temporary protection visas who came to work for the local abattoir

International: Global Abuse
Amnesty International have joined the chorus against the violation of trade union rights in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

History: The Honeypot
To the Honeypot come those individuals anxious to get their hands on instant wealth. So it was in the early days of Broken Hill, wrties Grace Hawes in this homage to the mining town.

Review: Death And The Barbarians
This new take on coming of age films focuses on the coming of death and the dignity and maturity it can inspire among those touched by it - though not always easily in the overcrowded Canadian public health system, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers some of the unfolding mysteries of talk back radio.


 Big Bribe Misses Battlers

 West in Great Leap Backwards

 Cheques in the Mail

 Bullets Foul Childcare

 Thanks Bob - Lawyers Tuck In

 Watchdog Barks for Workers

 Budget Brushes Elderly Blueprint

 John Sutton�s Fine Idea

 Teachers Unified in Out(r)age

 Qantas Hits Panic Button

 Lights Out At MCG

 Richs to Rags Warning

 Activists What�s On!


The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 1
Dr David McKnight, from the University of Technology, Sydney presents a new frame for looking at the competing ideas within Social Democracy.

The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 2
David McKnight concludes the paper he presented to the �Rethinking Social Democracy� conference, in London, April 15-17, 2004.

Out On A Limb
Phil Doyle becomes the first Australian journalist to state that the Olympics will be called off.

The Westie Wing
In the latest episode, Ian West explores what Disraeli called "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

Message from America
Searing snapshots from a landscape of uncertainty have plunged the Bush Administration into deeper crisis, writes WorkingForChange's Bill Berkowitz.

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Cheques in the Mail

Cheques worth $50,000 were left overnight on a dashboard in Leichhardt, last week, by a driver scabbing on the first national postal workers strike in 20 years.

The cheques had been used as payment for domestic bills at Leichhardt Post Office and were supposed to have been delivered to clearing house, Austrapay, as a matter of priority. Instead, they overnighted on a truck dashboard, according to CEPU assistant secretary, Greg Rayner.

"If it was one of our drivers and there was no strike action Australia Post would be looking to discipline the driver in question or possibly dismiss him" said Rayner.

At Strathfield, he claimed, a heavily pregnant woman was told by her supervisor she would not have maternity leave approved if she joined the strike.

"Wayne Barney (her supervisor) said he would only approve the leave if she came to work on Thursday and broke the strike," Rayner said.

Management told workers who defied the strike ballot to bring "anyone known to them" to work during the stoppage, Rayner said.

Staff were told, "as long as they're over fourteen and seven months we'll pay them, I know teenagers were working at the Hunter mail centre" another official said.

CEPU state secretary, Jim Metcher, said because of the use of "scab labour", the union would strike again this Friday.

"The dirty tricks and bullying of the workers taking industrial action has only inflamed the situation," Metcher said.

The union claims the Australia Post wants to franchise post shops, the commercial section of the business, allowing new operators to slash wages by 30 percent.

Metcher said 3000 full-time positions had been lost in NSW alone over recent years.

"What Australia Post wants to do is to contract all jobs out to franchise arrangements and reap the benefits, such as commissions from franchisees who put them under different employment in terms and conditions."

Workers are trying to protect jobs and incomes through enterprise bargaining negotiations. They want consultation before changes are forced through and the right to have disputes arbitrated by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Australia Post was the inaugural winner of the Tony Award - struck to "honour" the country's worst employer.


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