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Issue No. 252 18 February 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Wood for the Trees
In the book that may never become a film, ‘Eucalyptus’, a father will not give his daughter away unless her suitor can name every tree on the property.

F E A T U R E S

Economics: Super Seduction
Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers.

Interview: Bono and Me
ACTU Sharan Burrow lifts the lid on the rock star lifestyle of an international union leader.

Unions: The Eight Hour Day and the Holy Spirit
Rowan Cahill bucks conventional wisdom to argue the eight-hour day began in Sydney.

Economics: OEC-Who?
The OECD calls for more reform. But, Asks Neale Towart, who is really doing the calling?

Technology: From Widgets to Digits
How can unions grow and continue to successfully represent workers when their traditional structures are rooted in an industry, craft or fixed location?

Education: Dumb and Dumber
Unions are leading the fight against a political agenda that does away with smart jobs.

Health: No Place for the Young
The support of union members is required to help get young people out of nursing homes, writes Mark Robinson

History: The Work-In That Changed a Nation
February 17 marks 30-years to the day that sacked coal miners at the NSW Northern District Nymboida Colliery began their historic work-in at the mine.

Review: Dare to Win
The history of the militant and often controversial BLF is as surprising as it is fascinating writes Tim Brunero.

Poetry: Labor's Dreaming
With another change at the helm of the Labor Party, our resident bard, David Peetz, can't help but dreamily drawing on some political history.

N E W S

 Families On the Rack

 Detention Centre for Darling Harbour

 Transit Officers' Close Shave

 Truckies Drive Mac Attack

 We Have Way of Making You Walk

 Howzat – Murali Spun Out

 Show Me The Money

 Walter’s Mates Pay

 Retailer Sells Out Workers

 Financiers Squash Capital Idea

 Taskforce Stands Over Families

 Big Australian Changes the Rules

 Bodyguards Stabbed In Back

 Big Brother Stirs Up Porridge

 Carr Sees Trees for Wood

 Activist’s What’s On

C O L U M N S

Politics
Titanic Forces
There are book reviewers who have not read the book they have just reviewed and there are critics who have criticised films they have not yet seen. I want to review a novel that has not yet been written.

The Soapbox
Labour and Labor
Grant Bellchamber looks at the relationship between both sides organised labour

Postcard
Aussie Unions Help Tsunami Victims
The union movement’s aid agency reports back on its relief effort in Asia.

The Locker Room
Game, Set and Yawn
Phil Doyle asks if tennis is evil or just boring

Parliament
The Westie Wing
As a reshuffle of the State Ministry settles in and the Federal Government throws down the gauntlet, 2005 promises to be a new and vital chapter in the struggle for workers and their families, writes Ian West in Macquarie Street.

L E T T E R S
 Toxic Talk
 Millstone Revealed
 But Then Again
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Tool Shed

Lack Of Interest


Our Tool Of The Week has found a remarkable new reason for interest rates to rise.

*****

Just when we all thought that the bottom of the barrel had been well and truly scraped it turns out that there are lies, damned lies and reasons for interest rates to rise.

The latest bit of fuzzy logic comes from the caring sharing boss of the bosses' union, Heather Ridout, with her wacky claim that providing menstrual leave will lead to interest rate rises.

Just why this is so is not immediately clear, but it has something to do with smoke and mirrors and the idea that if you say something often enough everyone will believe you.

It may well be true that if we pay workers in salt and give them a hessian rug to sleep on then interest rates will remain low, in which case Ridout is a visionary and her subtle logic is to be applauded.

One thing we do know is that interest rates rise because the Reserve Bank Board decides they should rise, and that the Reserve Bank Board meets once a month - which brings a whole new meaning to that term 'that time of the month'.

The situation where people are having to dig into their sick leave because of something that is a natural part of life is bad enough, but now we have this contribution from the intellectual giant of the employing classes that, if it doesn't trivialise the issue, certainly sends it off in a unique trajectory.

Whatever planet Heather is on is an interesting one. No doubt it's a place where units of production, sometimes erroneously referred to as human beings, march stridently on from puberty straight into menopause, pausing only to sing the company song.

We dare not let our humanity get in the way of profit, that would put a bit of a crimp into the lives of those godlike beings that adorn the boards of our publicly listed companies.

A wry joke used to do the rounds that if men had periods then there'd be four paid sick days a month for the purpose.

Now, when someone actually starts to address the issue, it becomes fodder for this bizarre campaign to link treating people like human beings as being responsible for interest rate rises.

Our Tool Of The Week will be gibbering about interest rates going to rise like a cross between a Dalek and Chicken Little at the first sign of any compassion being shown to the Australian worker.

She understands the pressures facing Australian families in much the same way as a goldfish understands Euclidian geometry.

It'd be easy to say that Heather Ridout is contributing to a low standard of debate about workplace 'reform', but there is no debate.

Instead we are treated to these ideological carpetbaggers giving fulsome explanations about how they are going to take to working Australia in much the same way as Attilla the Hun took to central Europe.

Heather Ridout will be one of those rolling the bodies over and pocketing anything shiny.

They'd be more honest if they just turned up on your doorstep with a balaclava and a sawn-off shotgun.



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