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Issue No. 255 11 March 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

A Skillful Ruse
If you ever wanted a case study into the adage that big business is all about ‘privatising the profits and socialising the losses’ then look no further than the current skills crisis.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Dot.Com
Evan Thornley was a labour activist. Then he rode the tech wave. Now he's home with new ideas on how Labor can win the economic debate.

Workplace: Dirt Cheap
In her new book, Elizabeth Wynhausen learns how hard it is to live on the minimum wage.

Industrial: Daddy Doesn’t Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegas’ tells the story of the loss her young family has felt since her husband was killed at work, and the need for justice for families who fall victim to industrial manslaughter.

Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
Big Business's agenda for Australia has gone from loopy to mainstream at the speed of light, writes Neale Towart

International: From the Wreckage
Working people across Iraq are struggling to build their own independent unions – and are successfully organising industrial action on the vital oil fields as well as in hotels, transport outlets and factories, Writes Andrew Casey

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Meat and Three Veg
A new book recounts the impact of the Depression on women workers, writes Neale Towart,

Savings: 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, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Federal shadow treasurer Wayne Swan unveils Labor's new economic doctrine.

Poetry: To Know Somebody
This week saw an appointment to the ABC Board that was even more breathtaking than that of Liberal Party figure Michael Kroger. Resident Bard David Peetz celebrates the occasion with a reworking of an old Bee Gees hit.

Review: Off the Rails
A new play on the impact of rail privatisation in Britain has a poignant message for Sydney commuters, writes Alex Mitchell

N E W S

 Killer Company Sent Down

 Once Upon a Time in Bexley

 Defence Contractor at War

 Steeple Takes a Tumble

 Tribunal Goes the Bash

 Nurses On Top

 Uni Rolled on Casuals

 Howard Strips GEERS

 Septics Dump On Aussie Jobs

 Banks Safety Interest

 Feds Should Help Kids

 Safety Stars at Opera House

 Three Dollars Free For Readers

 Toast the Days Of Old

 Clinton Boycotts Hotel

 Activist’s What’s On

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
The Big Picture
Think about this: It takes 150 tonnes of iron ore to buy a plasma TV, writes Doug Cameron.

The Locker Room
Reducto Ad Absurdo
Phil Doyle offers advice for the lovelorn, and finds that things are getting smaller

New Matilda
Work is In
The rise and fall of the working hours debate in france is relevent to Australian workers, writes Daniel Donahoo and Tim Martyn

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP surveys the upcoming conservative centralist collective attack.

Postcard
Postcard from Harvard
Australian union officials making the annual pilgrimage to the Harvard Trade Union Program learnt that, at least, they are not alone, says Natalie Bradbury.

L E T T E R S
 The Auld Mug
 Banks Are Great
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Killer Company Sent Down


Swiss mining giant Xstrata has been fined $1.47 million over the 1996 deaths of four Hunter Valley coalminers.

In the wake of the record fine, handed down in Sydney today, bereaved families have again urged the minerals company to drop its attempt to have health and safety laws declared unconstitutional.

Victims family spokesman Ian Murray - whose 18-year old son Damon Murray was killed at Gretley - said the families "have been through hell" in their eight-year campaign for justice.

"Today's decision should have provided us with closure but with Xstrata going to Court on Monday to overturn the laws that secured the Gretley convictions, the issue is far from over," Murray said.

If the Xstrata challenge succeeded, he said, mining companies would be immune from prosecutions for breaches of safety laws.

"I don't understand why they can't just cop the fine. All miners and their families are entitled to the full protection of the law and mining companies like Xstrata have no right to seek to put themselves above the law.

Companies are prosecuted for a wide range of violations of the law in areas like tax evasion and pollution yet Xstrata is demanding that mining companies be exempt from prosecutions for negligent actions that lead to mineworkers being injured or killed", Murray said.

Miners Union general president Tony Maher said that Xstrata's challenge had provoked enormous resentment among rank and file mineworkers.

Mineworker representatives from every pit in NSW will rally outside Sydney's Court of Appeal, next Monday, to demonstrate their opposition to the company's stance.


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