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Issue No. 223 04 June 2004  

Last Year�s Model
Economists keep telling us things have never been better, all the economic indicators say so. Which sparks the obvious question: why are so many of us feeling so low?


Interview: The New Democrat
Canadian activist Judy Rebick explains how she's using lessons from Brazil to rebuild the labour movement.

Bad Boss: The Ugly Australian
Prime Minister John Howard is in California spruiking the "merits" of this month�s Bad Boss nomination �

Unions: Free Spirits and Slaves
International capital demands guest labour � legal or illegal � as a way of beating down wages and conditions and, as Jim Marr discovers, the Australian Government seems happy to oblige.

Industrial: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on another workplace death (we-will-not-RIP NOHSC), heartburn for the Canberra consensus and all the action from around the states in our national wrap.

History: A Class Act
The problem of forgetting the primacy of class in favour of other ideas of community is highlighted in a new book, writes Neale Towart

International: Across the Ditch
NZ Nurses Union leader, Laila Harr�, is in Sydney this week, comparing notes with the Australian Nurses Federation and seeking transTasman support for New Zealand�s highest profile industrial campaign.

Economics: Home Truths
Sydney University's Frank Stilwell argues that tax policy is driving the housing boom.

Review: No Time Like Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is one part Grim Reaper of the environmental movement and two parts fictitious fable dramatically window dressed with extreme special effects, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Silent Note
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers the current public service motto � "Don't tell the Minister!".


 Trade Deal a $47 Billion Dud

 Ground Staff Spread Fashion Wings

 Ghan Raises Trans-Continental Stink

 Union Busters Bank on Labor

 Witnesses Face Casual Duress

 Rail Workers Cop �Beer Nannies�

 Sun Shines on Green Bans

 Big Business Plan to Cripple Compo

 Money Can�t Buy Me Love

 Federal Election in Doubt

 Safety Defects Plague Adelaide

 Police Investigate Assault Claim

 Activists What�s On!


The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part I
The Australia Institute's Clive Hamilton questions the assumptions underlying a society that defines happiness in dollar terms.

The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part II
Clive Hamilton concludes his analysis, looking at how more and more Australians are pulling back from a marketplace that is no longer providing the goods.

The Locker Room
Sack �Em All!
Phil Doyle puts his job on the line, but doesn�t everyone these days?

The Westie Wing
The NSW Government has an agenda on the table but the test is finding innovative ways to finance it, writes Ian West

 Liberal Laugh
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Union Busters Bank on Labor

A company that runs an in-house �yellow� union is in line to pick up a $50 million contract from the NSW Labor government.

Unions are asking how Suncorp-Metway, accused of running a "US-style" union busting operation in NSW, can meet terms of a ground-breaking procurement policy struck last year.

Under the deal thrashed out between Labor Council and the Carr Government, state contracts should only be awarded to companies that meet basic labour standards, including the right to organise collectively.

"The Memorandum of Understanding between the Labor Council and the government is quite clear on what the Treasurer should be looking at," says Geoff Derrick from the Financial Sector Union (FSU). "That includes their attitude to unions, whether they have a cooperative attitude to their workers through their union and whether they negotiate in good faith."

The state government has called for tenders to manage the state's finances and actuarial services, contracts that have been labelled amongst "the largest in Australia". Suncorp-Metway currently holds the existing tender.

"Suncorp-Metway has a pathetic industrial record," says Derrick. "It's in-house 'pretend' union was so clearly in the pocket of the boss that they were refused recognition even under Reith's industrial relations laws."

"They have a pathetic record on OHS consultation, which is ironic given the number of workers compensation contracts they hold."

The company has also been accused of holding compulsory staff meetings were management pushes an anti-union agenda and also one on one meetings that send a "clear message that union membership is discouraged", according to the FSU.

The union also points to the last round of redundancies at the financial institution where a disproportionate number of union delegates were dismissed.

"We're not saying that Suncorp-Metway shouldn't get the contract," says Derrick. "We're just saying they should improve their behaviour."


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