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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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Aussie Kids Thrown Overboard

A dramatic cut in apprenticeships and a doubling of foreign trades people working in Australia amounts to "throwing Aussie kids overboard", according to the ETU.

National secretary, Peter Tighe, fears young Australian's are missing out on training opportunities and has called for a Senate Inquiry into the skills crisis - regardless of the federal election outcome.

Tighe points to figures showing that between 1992 and 2001 the number of electrical apprentices in training plummeted almost a quarter, from 21,473 to 16,540.

At the same time the number of foreign workers granted permission to work in Australia has increased by over a third from 26,000 in 1996 to nearly 38,000 in 2002. Over the three years to 2002 the component of skilled trades people in that group doubled to eight percent.

Recent ACTU research has shown in the next decade there will be a national shortage of 250,000 traditional trades apprentices which will cost the economy $9 billion in lost opportunities.

Though 170,000 trades people will leave work in the next five years only 40,000 will enter.

But Tighe claims the Howard Government has failed to ensure enough educational opportunities for young Australians to cover the shortfall - instead the importation of thousands of foreign workers as a short term measure has been fast-tracked.

"The Howard Government has stood by and watched while apprenticeship levels in key areas such as the electrical trades have plummeted," says Tighe.

"It is again trying to create the impression it is doing something about it. The truth is, unlike the falsely accused refugees during the 2001 election, it really is throwing kids - the aspirations and careers of Australian kids - over board, while it secretly loosens or simply ignores many of its own requirements for the entry of foreign workers into Australia."

"Theoretically, before (businesses) can import foreign workers to address a skills need, these companies must provide a training plan to the Immigration Department and commit to a local training strategy."

"However, under the Howard Government this is not being policed in a meaningful way."

University research by Dr Phillip Toner shows the skills crisis has its genesis in privatisation of public utilities in the 1980's.

In the 1970's thousands of electrical tradesmen came out of local and state government workshops every year. State Rail and Sydney City Council would each offer opportunities to 400 youngsters annually.

The private sector keenly snapped up the finished product.

But with the rush to privatise government enterprises in the 1980's came accountants who transformed apprentices from investments into costs.

Many comentators believe the failure of private enterprise to invest in expensive training for younger staff is driving the skills crisis.


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