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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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Activists What’s On!

Save Nursing at Sydney Uni: Online Petition

The National Tertiary Education Union has launched an online petition as part of a campaign to keep the Faculty of Nursing open at Sydney University and to keep Sydney University's orange campus open.

Click here to add your support.


National sportswear workers speaking tour

A national speaking tour by Noi Pongkhwa and Yong Jaikla will give

Australians the opportunity to hear first hand about work practices in the sportswear industry. It will also provide us with an insight into the changes that can and are taking place. Fairwear and the union movement will also have input into these public meetings.

Noi is a former employee of the Bed and Bath factory in Bangkok that produced sportswear for Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Levi's, Fila, Umbro and nearly 40 other brands. The owner of the factory suddenly disappeared, taking with him all the wages and entitlements money of the factory's 850 workers. After months of protest the workers won some compensation.

Some of the workers then used their compensation to establish the

Solidarity Group co-operative clothing factory. They have now started their own clothing label called 'Dignity Returns'. Yong works for the Thai Labour Campaign and has a broad knowledge of working conditions in the sportswear industry in Thailand.

These quotes from former Bed and Bath factory workers highlight the situation sportswear workers too often face.

"I had worked here for three years with constant tension, with no time to relax or rest. Sometimes I had to work until 2am or much later. The employer demanded a constant speed of production."

"After I drank water added with amphetamine (by the owner), I lost my senses. When I worked at night, I did not feel pain when a needle pricked my fingers. But in the morning, I felt so much pain in my fingers."

"There was a small food shop near the factory building where I always ate.

The employer came to the shop, furious, and ordered us to go back to work while we were eating. I felt so tired. This was too much to endure."


WHEN: 6pm Thursday 8 July - public meeting with Noi and Yong,

Louise Southalan (AFTINET) and

Dez Karlsson (Fairwear).

WHERE: Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney .

Fundraiser for the Cuban Children's Fund

Merdith Burgmann, President of the NSW Legislative Council will host a fundraising reception for the fund as follows:

Friday July 9th, 5.30 pm - 7 pm

At the President's Dining Room, Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney.

$30 donation, plus surprise raffles.

RSVP by 2nd July To Claudine Lyons

Ph 9230 2548

The special guest will be: Anthony Albanese, MHR (Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training). Anthony was a member of the recent parliamentary delegation to Cuba. During the visit he was able to visit the Wm Soler Hospital, the focus of the Cuban Children's fund's efforts. Anthony will talk about the progress of the hospital and his observations of Cuba generally.

In recent months the Fund Committee has been able to assist the further development of the Wm Soler Hospital with donations that have enabled the purchase of intensive care beds for small children and paediatric anaesthetic equipment.

If you would like to join the fund please return this email and I will send you the necessary information.

The fund is assisted and administrated through APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad, the ACTU's aid and solidarity organisation.

Business Ethics Forum

- timely opportunity to discuss corporate values and responsibilities

The second Oxfam Community Aid Abroad Business Ethics Forum on Tuesday 13 July 2004 comes at a time when global events have again thrown a spotlight on the social responsibilities of the corporate sector. The forum will bring together representatives from many top Australian companies, government departments, educational institutions and the general public to discuss values and ethics in the workplace.

The forum will take place in Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne's CBD and will feature distinguished keynote speakers:

Justice Neville Owen (Royal Commissioner, HIH Inquiry)

Christine Charles (Corporate Executive, Newmont Australia)

Sharan Burrow (ACTU President)

Corporate governance matters such as boardroom responsibility and shareholder interest, the environmental impact of business and best corporate practice are some of the issues that will be the subject of conversations at the forum.

Andrew Hewett, Executive Director of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, says a constructive business ethics debate in Australia is vital in this era of corporate globalisation. "Corporations today wield an unprecedented level of influence and power over human development. Current patterns of globalisation are creating opportunities for those with skills, education and assets. People who have these opportunities can make a positive contribution so that the three billion people surviving on less than $2 per day and the one in seven children who have no school to go to are not left behind."

DATE: Tuesday 13 July 2004, 6.30pm to 8.00pm

VENUE: BMW Edge Theatre, Federation Square,

Corner Flinders & Swanston Streets, Melbourne

COST: $75 per head

Drinks and canapés on arrival

For more information visit:

The Day Before Tomorrow

The Real Threat of Climate Change and What Australia should do about it

Place: @Newtown

62 Enmore Road, Newtown (old Newtown RSL)

Date: Wednesday, 28 July 2004

Time: 7pm to 9pm

Guest Speakers:

world-renowned climate scientist Dr Graeme Pearman

Chief, CSIRO Atmospheric Research (1992-2002)

Anna Reynolds , Climate Change Campaign Director

Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF)

Kelvin Thomson MP

Federal Shadow Minister for Sustainability, the Environment

and Heritage

All Welcome

For more information: Shane McArdle (02) 9564 3588 or Paula O'Sullivan

(02) 9357 6366

Strategic Thinking And Planning

An East coast opportunity to work on your campaign or organisation's strategic thinking and planning.

Would you like to be an activist who knows where their campaign is going? Do your current strategies and tactics match the broader social and political context? Would you like to be the kind of community worker who is clear about the aims of their project so that you can clearly evaluate what you are trying to achieve? Many environmental and social justice advocates are flying by the seat of their pants and looking for effective strategies to address the challenges we face. Sometimes we can get stuck in reactive modes, or feel overwhelmed by the challenges of the moment.

The good news is that there are skills and tools for helping us become more pro-active, and creative as an organisation. We can become smarter at strategy!

So would you like to build the skills base in your organisation? How to develop a plan? Strategic analysis? Are you merely being more reactive about your work? This workshop provides you with an opportunity to not only reflect, but to learn new skills in strategic thinking and planning to add to your activist tool kit.

Four seasoned trainers will be facilitating two days of active and experiential learning on strategic campaign analysis and planning.

Workshop goals:

Develop skills in understanding how organisations create smart strategies for change;

Learn new tools for campaign planning;

Increase your skills for accessing creativity and understanding your gifts for strategic thinking;

And apply these skills and tools to your organisation!

When &where:

Brisbane :: Thursday 29th & Friday 30th July :: Brisbane Powerhouse

Sydney :: Monday 2nd & Tuesday 3rd August :: Quakers Meeting House

Melbourne :: Thursday 5th & Friday 6th August :: The Green Building

How much: $220-550 > sliding scale [includes GST unfortunately]

Contact Amy for more details: [email protected]

Work Interrupted

The ACTU will be co-sponsoring a conference on casual and insecure employment in Melbourne on August 2, 2004.

This timely national conference will examine the impact of casual and insecure work on Australian workers, business and the economy.

Casual employment as a proportion of the total workforce has grown from 13% in 1982 to 28% in 2003. It is widespread in many new industries and occupations and is increasingly long-term. Most jobs created in the 1990s were part-time and casual.

This conference will look at:

* the personal experience of casual workers

* international comparisons with Australian casual employment

* the economic impact of casual employment

* policy challenges for legislators, business and unions

This conference brings together some of Australia's leading thinkers and commentators and policy makers from business, unions, academia, politics, and the media to further this important debate.

Union places at the conference will cost $150 per head. To reserve your place download and complete the registration form below and fax it to RMIT University/CASR on 02 9365 6067. Or email your details to [email protected]. Or post the registration form with payment to: Work Interrupted, PO Box 7267, Bondi Beach NSW 2026.

hoWARd the arseLIcKEr

-Written by D.B.Valentine - Directed by Mark Cleary

-The Edge Theatre - Cnr King & Bray Sts Newtown

-Advance previews Wed 4th & Thurs 5th August.

-Opening Friday 6th Aug to Sunday 29th Aug.

-Time: 7.30pm (tbc)

-Bookings 9645 1611 or

-More info go to: click on "The Edge"


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