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Issue No. 225 18 June 2004  

No Place Like Home
Little by little, the truth is seeping out; a judicial inquiry into James Hardies Industries corporate restructure is exposing a scandal of dramatic proportions.


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 Harré, 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!".


 Multi Bets on China Card

 Community Flags Reconciliation Push

 Nigel’s Ad Values Questioned

 Medal for "Jobs Vandal"

 Schoolies Earn Thousands

 Westbus Drives Over Entitlements

 Circus Owners Cut Up Rough

 Fireys Slam Adelaide "Death Traps"

 Job Slasher Faces Spam

 Sixty Stations Face Axe

 "Sickies" to Join Dinosaurs

 Mr One Percent on Notice

 Stink Over DJ’s Bogs

 Aussie Kids Die on the Job

 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

 Flexed To Death
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Multi Bets on China Card

One of Australia’s richest men is playing the China card in a bid to beat off claims from long-serving process workers earning $13 an hour.

AMWU members at electronics giant, HPM, are calling on community supporters to help them extract living wages from Peter Simon, estimated by BRW to be worth $170 million.

They have asked Australians to write to HPM backing their "social justice" agenda after the company rejected every claim advanced on behalf of 400 process workers and tradesman in enterprise bargaining negotiations, last week.

The AMWU says Simon's company has put China on the bargaining table in a bid to frighten the predominantly female workforce off fighting for a better deal.

Secretary, Paul Bastian, says the federal government laid the groundwork for HPM's resistance by ignoring basic labour standards in its push for free trade agreements.

"This company says it will source product from China. It has held meetings and sent out circulars canvassing that option if these people improve their wages and conditions," Bastian said.

"It's an insult to low paid workers who are proud of HPM's success and committed to retaining manufacturing jobs in Australia. But it is the natural result of government policies that pay no attention to core labour standards."

Thus far, HPM has ducked union requests for commitments to continue production in Australia.

The hourly rate for most process workers at HPM's Waterloo, Alexandria and Roseberry plants is $13.18 an hour and organiser Martin Cartwright says that is well below the industry standard.

"I can name two other companies in the same area and the same industry where the base rate is at least $2 higher," Cartwright says. "Eighty three percent of the HPM workforce is female yet there isn't a single provision in the current agreement that provides for the special needs of women workers.

"This isn't just a wage issue, it is a social justice issue."

Cartwright said the majority of the workforce had English as a second language but its commitment to the company was evidenced by its nine-strong bargaining committee, the shortest serving of whom has been with HPM for 15 years.

The AMWU is preparing information packs, as well as postcards and letters that supporters will be urged to send to workers and/or the company.


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