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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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Mothball Bowls Port Hedland

The company that rips $2million profit a day out of the Pilbara is being asked to come clean on the future of 450 jobs.

BHP Billiton marked the fifth anniversary of its introduction of individual non-union agreements, this week, by announcing the mothballing of its Boodarie iron plant, putting hundreds of local families on the line.

ACTU organiser, Will Tracey, is urging the multinational to level with the workforce and a dependent community.

"BHP management knows what is going to do but it is keeping Port Hedland and the workers in limbo," Tracey said. "There are jobs available inside the BHP operation and those positions should be embargoed for Boodarie employees.

"Financial advisers and employment consultants should be here to help families whose futures have been thrown into jeopardy. It's the absolute least a company of BHP's size and capacity should provide.

"This company extracts $2 million in profit out of the Pilbara every day."

Boodarie has been idle since 32-year-old fitter, James Wadley, was killed in a horrific explosion in May. He was one of three men killed that month at BHP Pilbara operations, sparking a government inquiry into health and safety standards.

Unions say BHP's OH&S record has fallen victim to AWAs based on unrealistic productivity requirements.

After an AMWU delegate was killed at another Port Hedland site, in May, posters exhorting workers to greater tonnage figures were quickly removed from the workplace.

Tracey says the Port Hedland community is now paying for BHP's profit drive. It commissioned the massive $2.5 billion Boodarie operation without a pilot plan, standard for such developments around the world.

The project has been plagued by production and safety issues, ever since.

Last week, with the state government safety audit continuing, BHP announced Boodarie would go into "care and maintenance" mode.

That requires barely 50 maintenance workers and is being viewed by WA media outlets and townspeople as a step on the road to closure.

"BHP rushed Boodarie on line and it has been a disaster from day one," Tracey said. "It needn't be because these types of operation run properly in other parts of the world.

"Right now people don't know where they stand. Port Hedland is an isolated community without many of the facilities and support mechanisms people can fall back on in the cities.

"BHP owes this community a lot more than it provides. The truth about these jobs would be a start."


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