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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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Westbus Drives Over Entitlements

Hundreds of millions of dollars in entitlements are riding on a blue between Westbus and its drivers.

Workers at one of the country’s biggest private bus operators stopped work last week over its refusal to guarantee their money.

Individual drivers, with 20-30 years service, have up to $300 000 dollars worth of entitlements each on the line, and have flagged the likelihood of further action.

"The industry has a history of our members getting screwed over their entitlements," says Scott Connolly of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), who pointed to the collapse of North Coast-based King Brothers, earlier this year.

The TWU has given Westbus a number of options, including taking out a bank guarantee, insurance, or setting the money aside in trust.

Connolly said TWU members at Westbus were considering all options to protect their entitlements.

Westbus, which operates in Sydney's west, is moving to a new corporate structure in the wake of the NSW Government's decision to shake up the industry by rationalising 82 contracts down to 13, 10 of which will be in metropolitan Sydney.

Westbus is in line to pick up one of the lead contracts, providing subsidies for private bus companies servicing western Sydney.

Drivers are calling on the government to incorporate entitlement protection in the new contracts.

Safety Scare On Retreads

Westbus has also come under fire for using retread tyres, something drivers say is placing them and passengers at risk. The issue was highlighted as late as last week when a bus from the Penrith Depot suffered a blowout.

"Every Westbus uses retreads,' says Connolly. "Western Sydney commuters shouldn't have to put up with second rate equipment."

"Westbus says that [the retreads] meet requirements as a minimum, but when you have 40-50 schoolkids on a bus, and our members, they don't deserve the bare minimum."

"When it comes to safety, second best is not an option."


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