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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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Multinational Banks Jobs

The National Australia Bank is to shed 300 jobs as part of plans to merge part of its operations with other banks, says the FSU.

Later this month the bank's cheque processing unit will be out-sourced to American company, Fiserv, which is slated to take over the cheque clearance operations of the Commonwealth and Westpac banks later in the year.

Australia's big four banks are forbidden to merge under the 'four pillars' policy unless they can prove any merger is in the public interest to the ACCC.

FSU official Cath Noye says the banks are seeking the advantages of a merger by stealth through joint outsourcing arrangements.

Though many of the cheque clearing staff are likely to find jobs at Fiserv, workers have been pursuing guarantees their accrued entitlements will be safe at the new company. Some staff have been working in the unit for over 20 years and are due thousands of dollars in leave and redundancy accruals.

Noye says banks making huge profits should not be outsourcing work for short term gain.

"We are in the middle of a skills shortage, NAB should be employing, training and skilling Australians," says Noye.

"This is a major corporation which makes enormous profits, it's simply not good enough to sell people off like charf."

The FSU is predicting job cuts in other areas of the bank such as settlements, mail distribution and account services. Some market analysts have predicted as many as 3000 jobs might be lost.

Earlier this week the bank announced it would cut 1700 workers in its two UK subsiduaries.

The jobs slashing has been triggered by last year's $360 million foreign currency trading scandal, leading to extended board infighting, revelations of a flawed offshore expansion bid and entrenched cultural problems.

Noye says job cuts will only punish loyal staff and do nothing to improve staff morale or customer service.


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