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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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Witnesses Face Casual Duress

A worker who has had four weeks holidays in ten years says she faces "duress" for testifying in the Secure Employment Test Case.

Shirley Chabet, who works for a mushroom farm, said casual workers were "not on their own" and should "stay strong" after giving evidence in a landmark case that seeks to deliver security to thousands of employees.

Chabet and co-worker Lisa Bowman were inspired to speak out after being employed as casuals, despite years of working 30 hours a week for Hastings Valley Mushrooms.

Bowman was keen to gain secure employment after taking out a home loan, and wanted access to sick pay, holidays, maternity leave and redundancy pay.

The workers said that the owner of the company where they work was not happy they were giving evidence at the Test Case. The owner allegedly told the women that the case had "nothing to do with the mushroom industry".

A former workmate tipped off Chabet and Bowman to their rights. When they joined the union they weren't aware of any award entitlements.

Unions say employer threats have forced other workers to withdraw from giving evidence to the landmark case. Unions are running the Secure Employment test case to give casuals protection from ongoing uncertainty of employment.

"Employers insinuated that if [the workers] gave evidence they'd be dismissed," says NSW AWU organiser Craig Tate, who pointed to "draconian employment conditions" as being the norm for casual workers in regional NSW.

The women were congratulated for speaking out by John Keen, secretary of the Newcastle and Northern NSW branch of the AWU and also received a warm welcome when they attended the NSW Labor Council last week.

After her outspoken stance Bowman's encouraged other casual workers to join their union:

"Don't believe you're on your own. Make sure you're getting your entitlements."

The Secure Employment Test Case continues this week.


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