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Issue No. 256 18 March 2005  

Planet Common Cents
The current debate around the federal government’s move to ban compulsory university service fees exposes more than a pathological hatred of all things ‘union’.


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


 MaxiRort in Ballarat

 Beer Boss’ Want Froth

 Facts Ruin Costello’s Story

 Uni Burns Book Man

 Strong Pulls Pianist

 Terminator Runs Away

 No Choice for Small Business

 Scully On Run from Cops

 Picketer Wins $190,000

 Wheat Board on Sea of Shame

 School Raids Condemned

 Tangled Web Weaved

 CASA Cans Safety

 Radioactive Relay Race

 Activist’s What’s On!


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

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

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.

 Poor Prose Praised
 Fabulous Fan Mail
 Skilled Tools
 Nelson ‘Solves’ Skills Crisis
 Loyalty Nonsense
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Wheat Board on Sea of Shame

Days after facilitating a $65,000 back pay settlement to exploited Filipino seafarers another ship of shame has sailed onto the Australian Wheat Board’s radar.

This one, the Panamanian registered, Mastrogorgis B, has been arrested in Newcastle, allegedly owing millions of dollars to creditors around the world.

That's right, under maritime law, sherrifs can arrest a vessel. They achieve this by attaching a sticker to the mast and that's exactly what happened, this week, to the latest foreign vessel contracted to carry Australian wheat.

ITF reps rushed to Newcastle to gauge the wellbeing of crew and ensure minimum rates and conditions were in place.

The news came only days after another Greek-owned, flag of convenience vessel abused terrorism procedures to try and keep union officials away.

The captain declared a "heightened risk of a security incident" when ITF reps arrived in Wallaroo, South Australia, to represent 16 striking Filipinos.

Crew claimed they had been denied fresh food and water, and had been underpaid for more than a year.

They locked themselves in cabins to prevent retaliatory action as ITF officials called on the Wheat Board to honour long-standing agreements on minimum rates and conditions.

Investigations revealed the seamen had been on board for 13 months, without leave, earning $US150 a week.

Their employer, Cardiffe Maritime, agreed to pay $6500 in back pay, fly the men home, and to hire replacements under the terms of an ITF agreement.

"We have an agreement with the Australian Wheat Board that this ship will be covered by an ITF agreement for the next 12 months," International Transport Federation spokesman, Dean Summers, reported.

"The company told the Wheat Board it was paying rates in accordance with ITF minimums but it wasn't and has agreed to back pay the crew.

"The issue for the Wheat Board is that it needs to do more than make a phone call and take the word of dodgy companies flying flags of convenience."


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