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Issue No. 227 02 July 2004  

A Place To Call Home
These days the Great Australian Dream is closer to a fantasy, where the chances of owning to your own home depend on either inheriting property or winning lottery.


Interview: Power and the Passion
ALP's star recruit Peter Garrett shares his views on unions, forests and being the Member for Wedding Cake Island

Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Tony Butterfield became a State of Origin gladiator at the unlikely age of 33. Even that, Jim Marr reports, couldn�t prepare him for the knock-down, drag-em-out world of modern IR.

Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Proposals to flog off NSW�s forests have raised eyebrows and temperatures amongst some of the key players reports Phil Doyle.

Housing: Home Truths
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton argues for a radical solution to the housing affordability crisis.

International: Boycott Busters
International unions have issued a new list of corporations breaching ILO sanctions to do business in Burma.

Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
The absurdities of neoclassical economic assumptions has never stood in the way of their being trotted out to justify profiteering and attacks on the rights of citizens. The AUSFTA is the latest rort we are supposed to swallow, writes Neale Towart.

History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Interest in JC Watson's short time as Labor's first Prime Minister should not detract from his more substantial role as Party leader, writes Mark Hearn

Review: Chewing the Fat
As debate rages in Australia about Fast Food advertising, Julianne Taverner takes a look at a side of the industry that Ronald McDonald won�t tell you about in Supersize Me.

Poetry: Dear John
Workers Online reader Rob Mullen shares some personal correspondence with our glorious leader.


 NRMA Reverses Over Turnbull

 Privatisation Kills

 Crikey: Irwin Feeds Staff AWAs

 Nurses Telegraph Fight Back

 "Sexiest Man" Plays it Safe

 Eureka: Bug Swats Hadgkiss

 Macdonald Ponders Asbestos Blue

 Latham Gets Late Mail

 Murdoch Faces Discrimination Rap

 Boss Goes Postal

 Oberon Survives Bomb Threat

 Howard Out On CD

 Telstra Hangs Up On Staff

 Activists What�s On!


The Westie Wing
As the NSW Labor Government sells its first budget deficit in nine years, the real concern for the union movement is the devil in the detail, especially when it comes to procurement agreements, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Rubber Bullets
Labor's IR spokesman Craig Emerson launches a few characteristic salvos across the Parliamentary chamber

The Locker Room
Tears After Bedtime
Phil Doyle says that it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Postcard from Vietnam
APHEDA's Hoang Thi Le Hang reports from the north of Vietnam on a project being fund by Australian unionists.,

 Letter From America
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NRMA Reverses Over Turnbull

Corporate head kicker, Tony Stuart, has taken to rolling his own after failing to knock off the jobs of 420 AMWU members.

This week�s victim is Ross Turnbull, stood down as head of the NSW motoring organisation, NRMA, after brokering a settlement to a long-running industrial dispute, that thwarted Stuart�s contracting out agenda.

The NRMA was this week denying rumours of boardroom division but sources insisted Turnbull had been "rolled" by Stuart supporters.

AMWU assistant state secretary, John Parkin, wouldn't buy into the wrangle, other than to thank Turnbull for bringing "common sense to a situation that was out of control".

The chairman stepped up after Stuart delivered NRMA members a million dollar legal bill, with the promise of another $4.8 million to come.

Stuart had been out-manouevred by 420 patrol officers who used corporate governance to defend their jobs and conditions.

The wrangle started when Stuart moved to NRMA headquarters, fresh from helping corporatise Sydney Airport.

The new CEO wanted to contract out patrol officers' jobs and clawback long-standing conditions.

Months of stopwork meetings, bans, lockouts and IRC appearances failed to break the stand-off. The NRMA turned to lawyers and spin doctors who helped oversee the federal government's 1998 attacks on waterfront workers.

Then, the patrol officers changed tack, seeking a special NRMA meeting to vote their conditions into the company's constitution. Effectively, they wanted a referendum on whether rank and file NRMA members endorsed contracting out and condition stripping.

To get the special meeting, patrol officers and AMWU activists had to gather written requests from 100 members. They had 4280 within a fortnight but Stuart questioned their validity.

The NSW Supreme Court rejected the NRMA challenge and ordered the organisation to meet 75 percent of the AMWU's legal costs.

Aware that a special meeting would cost NRMA members $4.8 million to stage, Stuart appealed.

Unanimously, the three-judge bench dismissed that action, this time ordering the NRMA to meet all the union's costs.

"Two weeks ago, negotiations had completely broken down and the NRMA was looking at spending millions on a special meeting," Parkin reported.

Enter former Wallaby coach Turnbull.

In little more than a week, NRMA insistence on contracting out; forcing senior patrol officers onto weekend rosters; cutting mid-shift breaks; and using GPS to carry out surveillance on workers had been taken off the table.

Patrol officers voted up an agreement that delivered annual increases of five, four and four percent on top of $2000 sign-on bonuses.

When the Supreme Court accepted Parkin's assurance that the demands of signatories had been met, the NRMA's obligation to convene a special meeting disappeared.

Within 48 hours, Turnbull had been replaced as chairman by Jon Brett.

Sources at the troubled motoring organisation insisted it was Stuart's revenge.


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