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Issue No. 246 12 November 2004  

How It Comes To This
There are times when a worker has no real option than to take a stand, no matter the cost. This is the situation confronting NSW’s 15,000 rail workers right now.


Interview: The Reich Stuff
Robert Reich has led the debate on the future of work – both as an academic and politician. Now he’s on his way to Australia to help NSW unions push the envelope.

Economics: Crime and Punishment
Mark Findlay argues that the present psychological approach to prison programs is increasing the likelihood of re-offending and the threat to community safety.

Environment: Beyond The Wedge
Whether the great forestry divide can ever be overcome or whether it is best sidestepped for the sake of unity and sustainability in other areas is up for debate, writes Tara de Boehmler.

International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews show us How To Kill A Country

Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Nick Lewocki from the RTBU lifts the lid on the shonky science behind RailCorp testing

Politics: Labo(u)r Day
John Robertson lets fly at this years Labor Day dinner

Human Rights: Arabian Lights
Tim Brunero reports on how a Sydney sparky took on the Taliban and lived to tell the tale.

History: Labour's Titan
Percy Brookfield was a big man who was at the heart of the trade union struggles that made Broken Hill a quintessential union town writes Neale Towart.

Review: Foxy Fiasco
To find out who is outfoxing who, read Tara de Boehmler's biased review of a subjective documentary about corrupt journalism.

Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
Brothers and sisters! Praise the Lord! Brother George has saved the White House from an invasion by infidels, writes resident bard David Peetz.


 Workers Seize Cat

 Castle Hill Uprising

 Carr Flips on Rail

 Producers Call "Cut"

 Fly Me To … Anywhere

 Saint Buzz: Hymn the Man

 Patricks Attacks Westies

 Cold Comfort for Scientists

 Mothball Bowls Port Hedland

 Boss Rejects AWA

 Asbestos Audit Refused

 Bear Mauls Children

 "Leave or Leave," Telstra

 Activists What's On!


The Locker Room
In Naming Rights Only
Phil Doyle has Gone to Gowings

The Soapbox
Homeland Insecurity
Rowan Cahill tells us how the Howard Government’s appointment of Major-General Duncan Lewis to head up the national security division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has received little critical comment, until now.

The Westie Wing
New proposed legislation in NSW provides a vital window of opportunity for unions to ensure they achieve convictions for workplace deaths, writes Ian West.

 What about the real crooks?
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Patricks Attacks Westies

Executive bovver boy Chris Corrigan has turned his sights on Western Sydney vehicle workers, seeking to slash the conditions of employees who are already under the financial pump.

Unions liken his strategy to the infamous '98 waterfront dispute, "minus the dogs and balaclavas".

Patrick's Autocare has locked out workers because they refused to accept savage cuts to conditions, including what unions have labelled as "casualisation by stealth".

"This isn't about money," says Dave Smith, assistant national secretary of the vehicle division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU). "It is about principles and maintaining current conditions.

"We're talking about people that can be worked in 50 to 60 degree heat. For that they're on about $450 a week and less, processing cars imported from overseas.

"A lot of these people need every cent they can get."

Patricks are seeking to remove conditions ranging from current redundancy provisions to access to union run OH&S training for safety reps.

As well they are seeking the right to stand down workers at the company's whim.

Workers at the site have indicated that they are willing to take a principled stand over Patrick's push and are calling for support from the community and fellow trade unionists.

"Patricks won't even agree to the continued use of existing consultation clauses, instead rewriting their obligations to consult stating 'the union will not interfere with the running of their business and they are moving forward in the new deregulated industrial environment'," says Smith. "Patricks has stated: 'This was what the '98 dispute was all about, management prerogative'.

"They want the sole right to mandate whether or not a person even has access to the disputes procedure.

"This is about people having some dignity and respect in the workplace and conditions that meet industry and community standards.

"This is the reality of the Howard industrial relations 'reforms'," said Smith. "Workers being stripped of their conditions."

The AMWU has asked for workers to support their Ingleburn based members.


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