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  Issue No 23 Official Organ of LaborNet 23 July 1999  




*  Interview: An Economic Wet
Dr Christopher Sheil on economic rationalism and the 1997-98 water failures in Adelaide and Sydney.
*  Unions: The Stench from the South
In 1997 the entire Adelaide metropolitan area was drenched in foul, sulphorous, sewerage odours, emanating from the Bolivar waste water treatment plant.
*  Environment: Trading into Trouble
Seattle, USA, is shaping up as demonstrator mecca in the lead up to World Trade Organisation talks.
*  History: Eveliegh Rail Reunion
Former workers and their families from the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops in inner-Sydney are holding a picnic reunion and folk music festival on the site on Sunday, August 29.
*  International: Bosses Use Armed Gangs to Break Russian Picket
On 9 July 1999, eighty masked, uniformed gunmen accompanied by the local prosecutor and other officials tried to storm the Vyborg Pulp and Paper Mill, under occupation by workers for the past eighteen months.
*  Satire: New Refugee Crisis: Journalists Flee Peace Zone
The camps are once again full in the Albanian border town of Gruntiez.
*  Review: 10 Reasonably Interesting Moments in Film
Cultural theorist Snag Cleaver flies off the handle again..

Water Torture - ASU delegate Rick Ware at North Head

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Brassed Off Workers Join Fight for Oakdale

Water Staff Pull Plug on Pay Talks
Sydney Water are looking to fund budgetary problems - in part related to last year�s contamination crisis - with a minimal pay rise for staff, a roll back of award entitlements and in all likelihood job cuts.
[ Full Story » ]

Hotel Survey Warns of New Years Labour Crisis
Sydney faces a New Years Eve labour crisis with a survey of city hotel workers showing just three per cent would be prepared to work at an ordinary rate of pay.
[ Full Story » ]

Pfizer Jerks Workers Off
Viagra producer Pfizer have recruited high profile union-buster Paul Houlihan to move its workforce out of the state industrial system and into Peter Reith�s federal domain.
[ Full Story » ]

Shafted: Howard Squibs on Entitlements
Workers have forced the Howard Government to make some token gestures toward protecting workers entitlements, but will continue to shame Canberra until meaningful reform occurs.
[ Full Story » ]

Olympics Jobs Shortage Looms
Olympic organisers have backed off a mooted plan to import up to 1500 hospitality workers to work at the Games, instead asking the union movement to help them find labour locally.
[ Full Story » ]

Nurses Change Tack on Public Health Campaign
Nurses from around the country will personally target any politician who supports the imposition of user-pay principles in the public health system.
[ Full Story » ]

Actors Save Conditions from Reith Attack
Performers have scotched an attempt to remove standard conditions from their award as part of Peter Reith�s award-stripping push.
[ Full Story » ]

Global Mariner Shines Spotlight on Howard Shipping Policy
While the Global Mariner is in Sydney to highlight the plight of Third World seafarers on Ships of Shame, it also has a message for the Howard Government as it considers furthering opening the nation�s seas.
[ Full Story » ]

New Currawong Deal Ends 25 Years of Trying
Unions have approved a deal to improve the facilities at the Labor Council�s Pittwater property, ending 25 years of gridlock on the movement�s prize asset.
[ Full Story » ]

Hands off Workers Comp
Building and metal unions will rally on Wednesday 28 July at the Sydney Town Hall Square to protest against the worsening crisis in workers compensation.
[ Full Story » ]

Scully Off the Rails Over Contract Security
Rail workers have been ordered to accept an edict by State Transport Minister Carl Scully to employ private security guards to do work that existing employees believe should be their�s.
[ Full Story » ]

PiersWatch and The Chaser in Mega Merger Deal
Workers Online has entered a ground-breaking publishing deal with The Chaser newspaper in a move that could send tremors through the media world.
[ Full Story » ]

Apology to Dr Bridget Griffen-Foley
Workers Online apologises unreservedly for the headline attached to her history article on the Packer empire in last week�s issue.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Upcoming Chippo Politics Events

  • Bright Oakdale Idea

  • Calling All Linesmen

  • Dissent Within the Ranks!!

  • Reply to Don Macchiato

  • Editorial

    Our Tender Public Service

    When something goes wrong in a public utility the lives of the people who rely on it descend into chaos and they wonder what has happened to the world.

    Power failures, gas explosions, hospital bed crises, water contamination, they all have the common theme of systemic failure.

    Twelve months after the Sydney water crisis little seems to have changed. Governments of all political persuasions pressure public spending down, squeezing workers' pay and demanding commercial returns from their services.

    High school economics students will remember being taught that the public sector existed to fulfil functions that private businesses either couldn't be tempted or couldn't be trusted to run.

    That logic has been trashed in the past decade with keywords like 'competitive tendering' and 'contracting out' and attempts to construct lucrative markets driven by annual profits and cost savings.

    Slashing public spending has become a fetish, delivering budget deficits the hit and the quality of public service a sad casualty of a mixed up system.

    As we approach the next state public sector pay round, one can only wince when thinking what sorts of 'productivities' will be attempted to be extracted to justify a measly pay rise.

    Already there's talk of increasing the number of casual nurses to improve the bottom line; Sydney Water are being asked to slash conditions just to keep wages stable and other public servants are being told there's zero money for pay rises.

    Nowhere is the talk of what the real game has to be - rebuilding the public sector after the attacks of the past decade. Because without a commitment to quality services the standard will drop and crises will become the norm.

    The reality is that basic public services like water, power, health and community care are not contests to be fought out on a balance sheet. They are what they are - basic public services.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Daryl Snow on the Sydney Storms Phill's Sports Unlimited Superman on the Forces of Light Return of the Hutt



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