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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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Two Million Jobs Traded

Canadians have lost two million manufacturing jobs since signing a free trade agreement with the United States.

Canadian Auto Workers Union president, Buzz Hargrove, said no argument could be made for the Free Trade Agreement to Australian workers because it exists to increase the power of corporations.

"Canada lost its status as number one auto assembler in the world on a per capita basis and since 1989 when we signed the FTA we have moved right down to eighth position," Mr Hargrove said.

"People have to understand what the FTA means. It means that corporations have the right to invest where they want and that governments lose their power to govern in the interest of their own people.

"We lost those two million jobs to the US and Mexico and the agreement killed any ability for our government to make a better deal for Canadian workers."

Mr Hargrove said Australians need to be aware of the impact any FTA would have. He said he was "surprised" that there was not more outrage from the community particularly over health and culture.

"The Canadian Government was ready to include those two areas into the FTA but there was a huge outcry from the Canadian population about it," he revealed.

He urged the Australian Labor Party to take a strong stand against the agreement.

Mr Hargrove suggest that ALP leader Mark Latham could take comfort from the fact that over 60% of Canadians voted against the Free Trade Agreement in the last election.

"I'm sure that if Australians really knew what John Howard was giving away, the vast majority would also be completely opposed," he said.

Latham Highlights Social Costs

Speaking at the AMWU national conference, last week, Latham, lifted the bar on ALP acceptance of the agreement.

He presented a critical assessment of AUSFTA, arguing any economic gains would be offset by social policy deficiencies.

Latham stressed the federal party would be guided by a senate committee report that already had unearthed "social costs", including pressure on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme; and threats to intellectual property rights, Australian culture and manufacturing jobs.

He described the decision to leave sugar out of the deal as "un-Australian".

Latham said the federal government's own support for the FTA was based on presumed benefits to Australia of $53 million a year but that "overwhelmingly" this came from increased US investment, rather than improved Australia's export receipts.

He called that benefit "mild" and suggested it could be outweighed by "social policy concerns".

AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, left the Opposition Leader in no doubt about what his members expected on the FTA.

"If it becomes a reality, never will an Australian Government have given up so much, on behalf of so many, for so little," Cameron responded.

"Mate, the AMWU has fought many battles alongside the ALP, and we will continue to stand up and fight those battles arm in arm with you. But there are battles we will fight on our own for our members and for their families.

"We urge you to consider the long term interest of Australian industry and Australian workers and do what the community expects which is to stand up for their interests."


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