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Issue No. 253 25 February 2005  

And The Battle Begins
After months of skirmishing and waiting for the first shots to be fired, we finally have a picture of the Howard Government’s agenda to tear down 100 years of industrial relations.


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.


 Signs of the Times

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Andrews Apes Big End

 Telstra Charge Reversed

 Good GEERS Hard to Find

 More Pulp Fiction

 For Sale - Goulburn

 Bosses Admit Pay Too Low

 Yachtie Sinks in Bog

 Albrechtsen Merits Questions

 New Eateries On Menu

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Markets Cheer Pattern Bargains

 Mine Managers in Denial

 No Interest In Costello

 Activist’s What’s On


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

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

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.

 Boycott Bunnings
 Just One Thing
 No Dosh For Rupert
 Executions Not Fines
 Howard Needs To Know
 Disability Disgrace
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For Sale - Goulburn

Evidence of a secret plan to flog the Goulburn Railway workshop has been unearthed by a rail worker.

The secret was uncovered when a manager at the workshop let the cat out of the bag to an AMWU member, according to state secretary, Paul Bastian.

The decision to sell Goulburn comes as the State Government finalises plans to privatise maintenance across the rail network.

Bastian said privatisation and contracting had been behind many of the problems besieging the NSW rail network in recent months.

He said public safety could not be guaranteed when everything from brakes and other components, right up to entire rail cars are imported from overseas.

"When you're hurtling down the tracks on a crowded peak hour train, its not much comfort to know that you're riding on the cheapest possible tender price" Bastian said.

"This plan will also cost jobs - particularly in regional NSW.

"We already have a major skills crisis. We can't start to compete on exports if we've exported all ours skills!"

Mr Bastian said that the problems in rail were compounded by the state Government's lack of action to keep ship building contracts in NSW.

The AMWU and AWU have both accused the Carr government of "welshing" on longstanding rail infrastructure assurances.

The state's Rail Infrastructure Corporation (RIC) was today considering two private expressions of interest, one from a US consortium, to buy the 30-year-old Goulburn Rail workshop.

Sixty highly-skilled staff, responsible for building wagons, general engineering, and building and maintaining the network's bridges, have been delivered an ultimatum - move to whoever buys the concern or quit.

Meanwhile, state pollies are tight-lipped about plans to knock-off the design, construction and maintenance of 500 electrical passenger carriages, under the guise of Public Private Partnership (PPP).

Only 20 percent of the $1.8 billion contract has been earmarked for NSW with the rest open to international tender.

AMWU attempts to get an explanation for the repudiation of Ministerial assurances work would remain in the state have drawn a blank.

The union estimates 2400 skilled jobs could be lost if the tender goes offshore - 800 existing rail employees, 800 more at private engineering firms in Sydney and the Hunter Valley, and as many again in downstream services.

NSW's content commitment is being compared unfavourably with the 80 percent demanded by federal government on a multi-billion dollar contract for new naval vessels.

"The significance of these tenders to the future of the rolling stock industry cannot by overestimated," Bastian says. "The loss of more skilled workers has long-term implications, for job security, regional economies and the future of our skills base.

Organiser Mark Hoban fingered RIC CEO, Bob Pentecost, as the architect of the Goulburn sell-off plan.

"Pentecost has got form but we are onto him," Hoban said. "He was responsible for selling large chunks of Telstra and has brought the same mentality to rail."

Unions NSW will co-ordinate a campaign amongst sector workers to oppose the sell-off of rail infrastructure.


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