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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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Teachers Unified in Out(r)age

Teachers in both Government and Catholic schools will this week consider strike action in response to a concerted campaign by the Carr Government to �bully� the Industrial Relations Commission into minimising its wage ruling.

Teacher unions are citing comments by the Premier this week followed by an eleventh hour attempt to introduce new evidence on the wage claim's economic impact as inflammatory and inappropriate.

The IRC has completed hearing evidence in two concurrent special cases that would determine wage outcomes for teachers in State Schools and the Catholic sector.

After achieving an interim none per cent increase, teachers are seeking a further 16 per cent based on changed work value.

While the government has already introduced legal argument citing the economic impact of the claim, the Premier turned up the heat this week issuing a media release directed squarely at the independent umpire.

'The Industrial Relations Commission simply cannot continue to hand-out un-affordable wage increases' the Premier said

'The Commission must understand that Government does not have an endless supply of money."

The next day Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca's attempt to introduce new economic evidence - based on the Carr Government's mini-budget and this week's federal budget.

Both the NSW Teachers Federation and NSW Independent Education Union have condemned the move and are considering coordinated industrial action at the end of the month.

"What this really represents is an attempt to bully the IRC into minimising any wage claim for teachers in both the public and Catholic sectors," IEU state secretary Dick Shearman says.

"The Premier argues that NSW supports the independent umpire - he should call on his Commerce Minister to back off and let the umpire do its job free of ongoing political pressure."

Size Matters For Catholics

Meanwhile over 1000 Catholic school teachers in South Australia walked off the job last week over class sizes and better working conditions in their schools.

The Association of Non-Government Education Employees (ANGEE) says that the Catholic school teachers are demanding an 11 per cent pay rise over three years and smaller class sizes.

Teacher workloads are the main sticking point of current negotiations, according to ANGEE secretary Glen Seidel


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