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Issue No. 250 21 December 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

Beyond The Law
Despite the all-engulfing gloom emenating from our political wing right now, 2004 comes to an end on a strangely upbeat note for the trade union movement.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The King of Comedy
John Robertson looks back on a year when his comic genius was finally realised.

Unions: Ten Simple Rules
Accepted wisdom has unions all but retired as serious players in the Australian game. A glance through the major industrial stories of 2004, however, suggests improved footwork, and a commitment to boxing clever, might herald a comeback, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Rampant Indivdualism
CFMEU National Secretary John Sutton gives his take on a year when the political debate took a turn to the Right.

International: Global Struggle
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks back on a year when the struggles for labour increasingly crossed international lines.

Economics: Cashing in the Year
Look back in sorrow or look back in anger? By any standards 2004 has been a hell of a year, writes Frank Stilwell.

History: Grass Roots
Worker solidarity in Australia in the first century of invasion can give us inspiration and clues for our upcoming battles, writes Neale Towart.

Review: Cultural Realities
In 2004 popular culture shifted from reality television to reality movies, and swapped last year's light-weight subject matter for the slightly more substantial, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Y-U-C-K
Workers Online resident bard David Peetz takes inspiration from The Village People for his latest prose.

N E W S

 Unions Make Hardie Pay

 Hadgkiss Gives Mourners Grief

 Mum Gets "Hopson’s" Choice

 AWAs Crash on Broken Hill

 No Fun in the Sack

 Tax Office Draws Blood

 Origin Prop a Union Hit

 Good Guy Wears Black

 Security Crisis at Sydney Airport

 Biscuit Bosses Crumble

 Ardmona Urged to Can Racism

 Bomber Predicts Big Bang

 Stolen Wages Cut

 Tomorrow the World…

 Bosses Sack WorkCover

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

Predictions
The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2005.

The Soapbox
Scrooge Was Right
Christmas has been cancelled this year, writes our US correspondent Brooklyn Phil.

The Locker Room
The Workers Online Sports Awards
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the Twentieth Century, Phil Doyle dishes out the gongs for all things great and small in the world of sport during 2004.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favoutrite MP looks for a positive spin on the year at NSW Parliament

L E T T E R S
 Costa’s Hike Unfare
 Temporary Arrangements
 The Price Of Tea In China
 Goodthink
 Cry For Me, Argentina
 Ho Bloody Ho
 Amen
 Right Is Wrong
 Business As Usual
 All In The Family
 Swing Left Wishful Thinking
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Tax Office Draws Blood


Cost cutting is the leading suspect for an outbreak of blisters, rashes, eye irritations and nausea rocking tax processing centres in two states.

Workers handling foul-smelling tax returns in Penrith raised the alarm and at least one Perth has been reported as coughing up blood.

Work on handling the hard copy returns has been abandoned while ATO and CPSU officials organise for scientists to carry out testing of the giant Penrith and Perth processing centres and, significantly, a new, cheaper paper which tax payers filled in for the first time this year.

Inside sources claim the ATO saved $700,000 on its paper bill by moving to a new, el cheapo, supplier.

The ATO has drawn down the cone of silence over its dealings on the paper market and, Workers Online understands, is refusing to divulge the source of its materials.

CPSU spokesman, Michael Tull, confirmed work on the manual returns had ceased while the outbreaks were investigated but said there was ample computer-based work to keep staff occupied.

"Our priority is to get experts in there to do the testing so we can identify the problem and ensure a safe environment," he said.

"It appears, at this stage, the paper is the problem but that is one of the things that has to be thoroughly tested. It is too early to be definitive.

"The ATO has agreed to stop working with the suspect paper until we get to the bottom of what is causing these health problems."

Tull confirmed that a Perth worker had coughed up blood and that eye, skin and other irritations, including rashes and blisters, had been reported from both centres.


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