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Issue No. 222 28 May 2004  

The New Radicals
Many of us lament the fact the Labor Party has little these days to do with labour; some even whimsically remember how the Liberals were once liberal; but evolving world events are now putting a lie to that most enduring of political labels ‘the conservative’.


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.


 Why Cole is a Merry Old Soul

 Fight Breaks Out of Schoolyard

 Child Care for a Song

 "Back Off" Call To Death Inquiry

 Carr No Mussolini

 Sweet Box-all for Ballot Bureaucrats

 Unions Fire Up

 Beattie Papers Over Stink

 Glue Bullies Come Unstuck

 Johnnie Tugs the Rug

 Bank Jobs Under Spotlight

 Federal Muzzle for Shareholders

 Unions Earn $19 For Low Paid

 Fashionistas Go Fair

 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.

 Howard The Chucker
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Child Care for a Song

Child care mogul Eddie Groves requires employees earning as little as $6 an hour to supply music for his centres from their home collections, federal parliament has heard.

MP Michael Danby made the claim in Canberra, after congratulating Groves on his move up the BRW Rich List courtesy of a personal fortune estimated at $175 million.

Groves' ABC Learning Centres are actively opposing Work Value cases being run by the LHMU in the ACT and Victoria in a bid to move entry rates for child carers from as low as $5.99 for teenagers, and $11.90 for adults.

The ABC Learning Centres stance is significant because it is the biggest for-profit operator in Australia with more than 300 childcare centres.

"While I would like to congratulate Mr Groves for moving up to 131 on the BRW Rich list, ABC Centres refuse to hire sufficient cleaners, refuse to pay staff a decent wage and require staff to bring their own music to play to the children," Danby said.

The MP for Melbourne Ports referred to a complaint he had received from an ABC Learning Centres employee who said she "couldn't afford to stay in the industry".

"At ABC we do all the cleaning in the centre and are expected to tidy the ouside areas as well," she wrote.

"I believe that if a job includes several roles ie cleaning and childcare, then maybe the award wage should reflect this. If ABC had to pay cleaners in each of its centres, it would cost hundreds of dollars, instead the childcare workers have to perform the role of cleaners to save Eddie more money.

"Staff are also required to play music at certain times of the day, which is not supplied by ABC and only gets played if staff bring in their own music."

Leading Liberal Party figures, including Jeff Kennett and Andrew Peacock, have been associated with the management of ABC Learning Centres.

Last year, Groves donated $10,000 to the Queensland Liberal Party.

Danby revealed Federal Treasurer Peter Costello had recently visited an ABC Learning Centre in Queensland.

He called on Parliament to scrutinise government subsidies to Groves' operation, especially in light of his highly-publicised handouts to the Brisbane Bullets and Brisbane Lions.

Workers Online understands Groves has begun legal action against the LHMU, alleging he had been portrayed as greedy and mean.


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