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Issue No. 221 21 May 2004  

Wage Fixing
The Premier’s attempt to cajole the NSW Industrial Relations Commission - and his subsequent eleventh hour bid to reopen wage negotiations - is about a lot more than the teachers' pay claim.


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.


 Chalkies Draw Line In Sand

 Porkies Leave Shearers In Tents

 Dust Flies In Asbestos Blue

 Joel’s Law One Step Closer

 BHP In Hedland Horror

 Occupation Focuses Anglo Minds

 STOP PRESS - Mitsubishi Carves Up SA

 Ties That Bind

 Fair Play At The Olympics

 Rally Demands Boss’ Head

 Nurses Stake Aged Claim

 Labor To Roll Up Sleeves

 Feds Take Axe To Safety

 AWU Remembers 9-11 Victim

 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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Chalkies Draw Line In Sand

Teachers walked out of schools across the state as NSW Premier Bob Carr was accused of "contempt" and trying to "intimidate" the industrial umpire.

The allegations flew after the state government announced an unprecedented move to re-open a wage case that finished six months ago.

The move to re-list the teacher's Special Wage Case - six months after final submissions closed and on the eve of an expected decision - provoked the Teachers Federation to endorse 48-hour state-wide strike.

The state government confirmed its intention just days after Premier Bob Carr used Parliament to make a highly publicised demand for the IRC to restrict the size of public sector wage movements.

Unions have vowed to draw a "line in the sand" over the stand-off, warning Carr that continued interference in IRC deliberations will reap a backlash against his government.

The move to re-list the case came as the NSW Industrial Relations Commission was poised to hand down a decision, widely expected to be favourable to teachers who have waged a long-running campaign to improve pay and conditions in public schools.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson said workers would not stand back and watch the IRC compromised by veiled threats or outright pressure from politicians.

"The IRC is due to hear a number of important Work Value cases this year - involving nurses, teachers, fire fighters and general public servants," says Robertson. "In all these cases the government has a vested interest in the outcomes.

"I have no doubt the Premier has sought to intimidate the Commission. This from a Premier who says NSW has the best IR system in the country and he supports the role of the independent umpire.

"These threats are verging on contempt."

Robertson said the Cabinet office was eroding the standing of the NSW IRC "piece by piece"

One IRC judge asked the government's counsel during the re-list application how many times he thought a party might forestall proceedings by making such submissions.

On top of the planned 48-hour stoppage many schools launched locally-initiated industrial action in response to what teachers say is the Carr Government's "blatant political interference" in their salaries case.

"The Carr Government accepted and fully funded the 5.5% interim increase awarded in December 2002. It is now manoeuvring to avoid this responsibility with the Commission's final decision," says Maree O'Halloran, President of the NSW Teachers Federation.


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