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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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Executive Pay Blue Looms

BlueScope workers will use their share power to peg executive pay levels to worker salaries and limit golden parachutes.

The workers, members of the Australian Workers Union, have been seeking proxies to support their bid to prevent executives earning more than 20 times what they pay their employees.

The AWU has proposed five changes to the BlueScope constitution to be voted on at the company's Annual General Meeting in Sydney on October 19.

AWU National Secretary Bill Shorten said BlueScope workers were falling behind the rest of the industry and their pay rises are not keeping up with the cost of living.

"In the last three years since September 2001, BlueScope workers average pay rise has been 8% compared to 17% for workers at OneSteel and Smorgons," Shorten said.

"At a time when the company is making record profits and senior executives are rewarding themselves with multi-million dollar salary packages, BlueScope workers wages have not kept up with inflation."

The AWU proposals (Resolutions 4 to 8 on the AGM notice papers) are as follows:

Resolution 4 - limits non-executive directors' terms to 10 years;

Resolution 5 - caps "golden parachute" payouts to departing executives at twice their final year's salary;

Resolution 6 - prevents directors holding more than four public company directorships or two chairmanships; and

Resolutions 7 & 8 - require further justification, including shareholder approval, of CEO or executive salaries in excess of 20 times average employee earnings.

"Limiting directors' duties to four public company directorships or two chairmanships is needed to make sure they have the time and energy to properly protect the companies' and shareholders' interests. Capping directors' terms at 10 years is a modest requirement for encouraging real independence among non-executive directors," Shorten said.

A study commissioned by the Lab or Council of NSW , The Buck Stops Here (by academics John Shields and John O'Brien) last year found that higher salaries for Chief Executive Officers actually coincided with lower company performance. The study identified a performance-optimal range for CEO pay of between 17 and 24 times average wages - exactly encompassing the level proposed in the AWU resolution

The report also confirmed that Australian CEO remuneration jumped from 22 times average weekly earnings in 1992 to 74 times average weekly earnings in 2002.


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