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Issue No. 240 01 October 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

The Premiership Quarter
After spending the past month with a decidedly sinking feeling, there’s a whiff of hope and expectation that the Howard era could actually be coming to an end.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Last Bastian
AMWU state secretary Paul Bastian has been at the centre of the three year battle to bring James Hardie to account.

Unions: High and Dry
Jim Marr unpacks the recent High Court Electrolux decision to test whether the ruling matches the media hype.

Security: Liquid Borders
The Howard Government loves to trumpet its national security credentials but a close look at its record in shipping sinks the myth argues MUA’s Zoe Reynolds.

Industrial: No Bully For You
Phil Doyle reports on how bringing dignity and respect to the workplace is undermining bullies.

History: Radical Brisbane
Radical Brisbane extends the 'Radical City' series into the Red North. Two experienced activists, academics and writers turn South East Queensland history on its head.

International: No Vacancies
More than 1400 hotel union workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, are on strike at four major hotels in San Francisco, California, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Life After Capitalism
A situation that all anarchists dream of? Michael Albert has been more than dreaming., writes Neale Towart

Technology: Cyber Winners
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks at a good news story of global online campaigning that has delivered a victory.

Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Teaser: Wondering why the polls are all over the place? Ask our resident bard and psephologist.

Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Voice of Southern Labor highlights the role music played in the 1930's US textile strikes, but more than that it provides a lucid insight into the roots of modern capitalism and some truly organic organising, writes Tara de Boehmler.

N E W S

 Kev Cooks the Books

 Black Hole In Libs Kids Plan

 Xerox Copies Waterfront Tactics

 Hardies Asbestos Woes "Snowballs"

 Air Fleet Grounded By Job Cuts

 Musos Lung For Better

 Customs Officers Declare

 Dumbing Down The Trades

 Pacific National Sidetracks Hunter Jobs

 Witch Hunt For Whistleblower

 Black Diamond Deaths Spark Mining Inquiry

 Pensioners Strip Over Pension Strip

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

Politics
True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues It’s Time – for an IR reality check.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Much work has been done in the past to ease the plight of clothing outworkers in New South Wales. It's time to step up the pressure, as sweatshops and clothing contract work are thriving stronger than ever, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Who Started the Class War?
Evan Jones looks across the Australian political landscape and asks who are the real class warriors?

The Locker Room
First Past The Post
Phil Doyle is coming up in class and is all the better for recent racing

Parliament
Westie Wing
Our favourite state MP returns for his monthly Macquarie Street wrap.

Postcard
Positive Action
Australian unionists are helping give hope to Filipino workers living with HIV/AIDS.

L E T T E R S
 Donkey Vote
 Problem Solved
 How To Run Society
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Air Fleet Grounded By Job Cuts


Australia’s defence capability is being undermined by bean counters, with the number of worker s maintaining our F-111s being halved in the past three years.

The engineers, members of the Electrical Trades Union, are so concerned about the run down in maintenance standards that they staged a protest outside the Amberley RAAF Base in Queensland last week.

The workers do maintenance work on instrumentation for F-111s, missile guidance systems, and electronic components on other RAAF aircraft. The systems are vital to maintaining Australia's regional aviation supremacy.

ETU Queensland secretary, Dick Williams, says since 2001 the avionics maintenance workforce at Amberley has been more than halved from 110 to 50.

Maintenance work on the crucial Fighter-Bombers has been contracted out to private firm QANTAS Defence Systems (QDS).

Williams' believes Australia's defence capability is being eroded by bean counters at the firm, which is especially concerning in light of the war against terrorism

"The Queensland electricity supply industry is a classic case of what can go wrong when you slash maintenance workforce levels.

"I think many Australians would be concerned to learn that similar corporate behaviour could now be undermining our defence capability," says Williams.

"We took the matter to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission earlier this week...and the Commission recommended we take further action over the issue. Today's protest meeting is part of that further action."

As Victims Wait for Compo ...

Meanwhile, a Howard Government decision to delay compensation to dying F-111 flight engineers until after the election has been condemned by victim's groups, the ALAEA and the ALP.

A general health and medical study on the workers was handed to the RAAF two months ago.

A previous report found over 900 former and serving Air Force engineers are 50 percent more likely to develop cancer after working on fuel tanks of the Fighter-Bomber.

Author of the cancer study, Dr John Attia, says the combination of organic solvents, cramped working space, lack of protective equipment and hot temperatures many have led to the high rate of cancer.

For 30 years engineers at Queensland's Amberley Air Force base were required to enter the cupboard sized tanks and break down chemical seals with highly toxic solvents like SR51.

Many of the workers, some of whom are in their early 30's and late 20's, have developed cancers, cardio-vascular problems, skin conditions, lung complaints, and neurological disorders - some have been confined to wheel chairs.

The workers are calling for full compensation from the government.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary, David Kemp, has urged the government to fully compensate affected personnel, many of who went into civilian life as members of the ALAEA.

"These are men who worked to protect our country by keeping a technical advantage over potential aggressors and now it looks like the government is prepared to abandon them," Kemp says.

Paul King, ALP candidate for Groom where many of the engineers live, said they should not have to wait for compensation.

"These people don't have a lot of time left," says King

"some of them are very, very sick."

For a victim's story click here


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