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Issue No. 257 01 April 2005  

Icarus Rising
Right now John Howard is flying. Watch him soar in his Vodafone track-suit, further than the Hawke into unchartered skies.


Interview: Australia@Work
Labor's Penny Wong has the job of getting more people into the workplace and keeping companies honest. In her spare time ....

Unions: State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson unveils the annual survey of attitudes of workers to their jobs, thier lives and the union.

Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Jim Marr unpacks the unlikely claim of a suburban house to be considered the New Mecca of the New Right �

Legal: Leg Before Picket
Chris White looks at how the federal industrial changes will impact on the basic right to strike.

Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Neale Towart asks why the only form of legitmate welfare seems to be going to the top end of town.

Health: Cannabis Controversy
Zoe Reynolds looks at how drug and alcohol testing is leading to some addled outcomes.

Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
As the indicators head south, Frank Stilwell wonders whether it is the way we do economics that is to blame.

History: Politics In The Pubs
Phil Doyle reports on the increasingly-popular Struggles, Scabs and Schooners day out.

Review: Three Bob's Worth
Doing their best Margaret and David, Tara de Boehmler and Tim Brunero have different takes on the new Australian flick Three Dollars.

Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
Workers Online bard David Peetz teaches how workers to dance to Howard's industrial laws.


 Health System to Subsidise Shonks

 Who Likes Bing Lee?

 Death Threats Shut Campsie

 Thumbs Down for Union Busters

 Advocate Pours Salt on Wound

 United Front Beats Drug Boss

 Kev Backs Double Standard

 Victorian Morality Shafts Teacher

 Doctors Prescribe More

 Multinational Banks Jobs

 Working Class Idol

 Greens Protect Entitlements

 Activist�s What�s On


The Soapbox
Notes From a Laneway
Mental Health Workers Alliance member Toby Raeburn shares a week on the frontline.

The Locker Room
War, Plus The Shooting
The Socceroos aren�t their own worst enemy after all, or so says Phil Doyle

Life Imitates Art
The jokes have been around for some time about the economic rationalist's approach to the orchestra, writes Evan Jones.

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes the secret passage out of Macquarie Street to deliver his take on NSW Parliamentary Committees and other goings on.

 Students Bear Brunt
 Security Lacking
 Bus Lanes On Vic Rd
 Dirt Cheap Right On Money
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Thumbs Down for Union Busters

The federal government�s upcoming assault on trade unions will meet resistance from some unlikely quarters, with non-members and Liberal Party voters agreeing it won�t serve the nation�s interest.

The �sweeping industrial reforms� will hit in a climate where voters of all political persuasions feel the economy is not delivering for working families.

The findings are contained in the annual State of the union report, a major poll of 1,000 NSW workers earning under $60,000 conducted by Auspoll for Unions NSW over the summer.

Among key findings are that an overwhelming 88 per cent of NSW workers support the ongoing existence of unions, including 76 per cent of all non-union members and 70 per cent of Liberal voters.

"It is clear that there is no ground swell of support for an agenda of attacking trade unions," Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says.

"This is important to understand and provides a counter balance to the federal government's claims that unions are an historical anachronism whose passing should be a matter of universal joy."

While unions have broad support there is growing disillusionment with the political process and major parties, including

- 80 per cent (including 77 per cent of Liberal voters) agreeing that while the economy is going well, it is a struggle for working people to make ends meet

- 88 per cent of people agreeing the government has a moral obligation to ensure that every worker earns enough to have a decent quality of life.

- and 71 per cent believing both Labor and Liberal are too close to big business

- and 59 per cent believing that neither major party stands up for working people any more.

Robertson says a vast majority of workers are crying out for some sort of leadership, which allow them to gain a modicum of control over their destiny.

"I'm not saying the return to the central arbitration system - where everybody's conditions were pegged to the Metalworker Award is the answer.

"But I do question, whether their really is the thirst for more wholesale deregulation and an outright attack on trade unions."

The survey, designed to create a snapshot of working people in NSW, has been conducted over the past ten years.

Key trend findings in 2005 include:

- half of all workers agree they 'would rather be in a union'

- 41 per cent of non-members who say they would like to be in a union have never been asked

- there is an increasing satisfaction with the performance of trade unions

- and the growing perception that management has power r than unions.

Click here to read a copy of John Robertson's 'State of the union' speech


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