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Issue No. 231 30 July 2004  

Bright Sparks
Australia is facing a major crisis that could affect all of us in the decades to come, a shortage of skilled apprentices, tomorrow’s tradespeople who are the backbone of the economy.


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.


 Goons, Scabs in Desert Showdown

 High Jump for Hardies

 Task Force in Hiding

 Court Cans Radio Bully

 Trade Deal Muddies Water

 Union Saves Kevin’s Bacon

 CFMEU Bowls Howard Model

 Mildura Bans Toxic Avenger

 Breakthrough Saves 87 Positions

 Two Million Jobs Traded

 Death Halts Sydney Tunnel

 Trainees Score $200,000

 Apprentice Crisis Worsens

 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.,

 Left Holding The Baby
 Tom On Alienation
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Tool Shed

The Worker’s Friend

NSW’s Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Chris Hartcher takes up a seat in the Tool Shed this week after a tantrum about the evils of trade unionism.


The Central Coast used to be a lovely place - until the Liberal Party and their developer mates got a hold of it.

We are reminded of this by Erina's finest, Chris Hartcher, taking us all for a wonderful trip down memory lane with a bizarre outburst about the perils of Trade Unionism that revealed more about our Tool Of the Week than it did about anything to do with the real world.

The amazing lack of talent in the Liberal Party was on display as the property developers mate had a tantrum about not being able to pay backpackers $10 an hour cash in hand.

In a press release written on the back of a serviette after a long lunch Chris wailed about a proposal that would ensure that vulnerable workers aren't taken for a ride by unscrupulous bosses.

"It's an ill-though-out plan designed to make it harder for small businesses to hire anyone who doesn't have a union membership card," said Hartcher, who forgot to add that it would also make it harder for his mates to hire people who don't have a visa, workers compensation or a tax file number.

Who has gone into bat for illegal workers who have been killed in NSW? Not the worker's friend, Chris Hartcher, that's for sure.

It's been a union, the CFMEU - which he accuses of sponsoring a racist policy - who have stood up for workers who've been killed.

What is racist is saying tripe like "it was well known foreign workers were reluctant to join trade unions".

It's also racist to take advantage of vulnerable people and pay them by piecework, or as little as $6 an hour, knowing full well that they can't complain. If Hartcher has a problem with illegal workers he might well want to have a look at the practices of some of his business mates.

Hartcher needs to be reminded that it isn't the union movement that is pitting worker against worker. Unions aren't pushing a "Free Trade" agreement that doesn't allow the vast bulk of humanity to take the only 'product' they have, their labour, across borders.

It isn't the union movement that locks up people who have committed no crime, who simply wish to flee tyranny.

If he's got a problem with racism he might want to take it up with his colleagues Amanda Vanstone and John Howard, who have turned it into a trade secret.

Hartcher's dream of paying workers in sawdust was matched by his no-brainer that unions should work with the Department of Immigration

Well, after you've woken up and smelt the coffee Chris, you might want to know that, shock horror, they are!

Einstein Hartcher's coup-de-gras last week was his revelation that Tony Abbott has nothing to do with the collapse of the Public Health system.

Still, coming from a party that believes that the Foreign Minister isn't responsible for Foreign Policy and the Defence Minister isn't responsible for Defence and the Prime Minister isn't responsible for anything this shouldn't come as a surprise.

Truth be known, what Chris Hartcher knows about Public Health could fit on the back of a postage stamp, with plenty of room left over for his complete knowledge of the realities of working life.

The time has come for our Tool Of The Week to leave the Pelicans of Brisbane Water alone and get a real job. He isn't much of a politician so working on a cash-in-hand death trap might just open his eyes to the realty of the fate that befalls those Australians his party forces to work without union protection.


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


Ship of Tools - All the tools in one shed!

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