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Issue No. 241 08 October 2004  

That’s All Folks!
Perhaps the most depressing part of this federal election campaign has been the Howard Government’s success, with the willing assistance of the media, of typecasting the union movement as some sort of cartoon bogeyman.


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.


 Telstra Dogs on Injured Woman

 Strike Three and We’re Out

 Boxall Beats Hasty Retreat

 Ashfield Moves on Home Truths

 Pratt in Warwick Farm Plunge

 Robert Reich's 2020 Vision

 Numbers Racket at Yandi

 Executive Pay Blue Looms

 Crazy Mike’s Fire Sale

 Kids Remember Kids

 DIY Security For Child Care

 Canada’s Asbestos Outrage

 Aussie Kids Thrown Overboard


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

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

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

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

 Invest In Dignity - Part II
 No Credit
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Pratt in Warwick Farm Plunge

Billionaire Richard Pratt is betting a thousand dollars a head on Warwick Farm employees turning their backs on colleagues striving for a national agreement.

Pratt is trying to undermine packaging industry wages and conditions by forcing through 14 separate, non-union, site agreements that would shatter workers’ bargaining power, according to the AMWU.

Visy Corrugated Packaging is offering lures of up to $1000 a head if employees turn their backs on a demand for a single national agreement, voted up at every site around Australia. But the size of its dividend depends where individuals are employed.

The $1000 bounty appears to be a Warwick Farm special. If falls to $500 for Dandenong employees and disappears, altogether, if Visy Recycling employees at provincial Laverton bet on the non-union option.

It's the sort of divide and rule strategy that AMWU industrial officer, Juliana Dickinson, says would be knocked on the head by a national agreement.

The company offer undercuts wage movements already made by Visy's principal competitors, Amcor and Carter Holt Harvey. Between them, the big three, control 95 percent of the country's corrugated packaging market.

Amcor has just signed off on a three-year agreement with the AMWU that delivers workers annual increases of 4.75 percent. Carter Holt Harvey has offered 4.5 percent but Visy won't go beyond four.

The Visy proposal would also see income protection rates reduced.

Dickinson pointed to the Amcor settlement as evidence of the value of a national agreement.

"It was signed off before the old agreement had even expired," she said. "It delivered agreed wage rises to everyone, introduced paid maternity leave and other improvements, including increased redundancy.

"We want uniform improvements for people doing the same work whether they're at a small site in Queensland or a big one in Perth.

"If we stick together we can win. Amcor has shown us that."

Visy Corrugated Packing currently operates under two enterprise agreements - one covering eight NSW workplaces and the other applying to workers in Queensland, Victoria and WA.

The company starts its campaign for stand alone, non-union agreements with a ballot at Warwick Farm today. It has scheduled votes for Dandenong and The Packaging Company, at Smithfield, next week.

The AMWU says Visy has refused to meet and negotiate over a log of claims developed and endorsed by meetings on all its 14 sites.


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