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Issue No. 258 08 April 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Be My Guest
Is anyone else confused about the current behaviour of our Prime Minister? In just a few short years he’s transformed himself from National Door Bitch to Regional Street Spruiker.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: [email protected]
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.

N E W S

 Cash Grab Targets Families

 Wattyl Lacks Colour

 Censors Ban Workers Online

 Stink Over Water

 Cole Slurs Slide

 Table Hands Stuffed

 Sweat Shop Taxes MLC’s Patience

 Cops Strengthen Thin Blue Line

 Buses Drive Commuters Crazy

 Guards Win Rail War

 Building Families Pocket $15 Million

 Students Mark Lecturers

 Activist’s What’s On

C O L U M N S

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

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

Parliament
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.

L E T T E R S
 Out-of-sight, out-of-your-mind
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Tool Shed

The Workers’ Friend


Our Tool Of The Week is busy putting the Unit back in Unity

*****

The Honourable Doctor Peter Wong, a member of the 'Bunyip Aristocracy' - sometimes referred to as the New South Wales' Legislative Council - is a caring man.

He rose to power on the Unity Party ticket.

The Unity Party was formed to combat the rise of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party. But, with John Howard pretty much stealing their more marketable policies, One Nation has since become a haven for ratbags, shonks and the truly bizarre.

Which brings us to the Unity Party.

The good Dr Wong was left in something of a bind, his raison detrehad evaporated, yet he had this cushy parliamentary position and all that shiny, glistening superannuation winking at him over there. What could he do? If he didn't move quickly it would all be lost!

Dr Wong decided to re-invent himself.

Most people would probably be satisfied with having one position on any subject, but not Dr Wong.

This intellectually generous servant of the people re-invented himself as a man who doesn't stop at holding just one position on any issue, but can hold down several at once, depending upon who his audience is.

Wong is all things to all people.

The enigmatic Dr Wong has now taken it upon himself to be the champion of the oppressed in the sweatshop industry.

Now, to the casual observer that may be the people earning a few cents an hour, but not to Dr Wong.

He has exposed a secret and sinister plot to undermine the profit margins of those caring and sharing small business people in the clothing trades who employ people in their own homes out of the kindness of their hearts; providing them with hours and hours of work - sometimes as many as 18 a day!

Dr Wong forwarded a petition to the NSW Upper House, signed by scores of people (well, one score actually). This petition quite nobly sought to end the exploitation of clothing industry employees.

So, who is exploiting these workers?

Not the boss paying them a buck an hour cash in hand, according to Dr Wong. Not the boss forcing them to 'bid' against each other in some bizarre Dutch Auction. Not the boss refusing to provide adequate OHS measures or obey NSW laws.

No, according to Dr Wong, these conditions are necessary for the clothing industry "to ensure its survival and success".

According to Dr Wong, these poor sweatshop employees need to be protected from "bullying by officials of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia, including trespassing, intimidation, harassment, and wrongful imprisonment".

Oh really Dr Wong?

Parliamentary sources reveal that when confronted about the accuracy or, rather, the absence of accuracy in his petition, Dr Wong didn't deny the paucity of facts but, hey, who cares, it makes great copy for certain sections of the media around Sydney.

Is Dr Wong stupid or evil? Who knows?

Our Tool Of The Week kept a straight face while asking for a police investigation into the union, so maybe he's just a brilliant stand up comedian with a keen sense for satire. Alternately, he could be as thick as three bricks.

But our Tool didn't stop with merely a petition. His fight for sweatshop justice extends to a motion he has placed on the notice paper for the hard working denizens of the Legislative Council to ponder.

In order to protect sweatshop workers from exploitation Dr Wong thinks their bosses should be given two days notice so that they can dodgy up their books properly. This would replace the hurried and haphazard fashion that they are currently forced to use because of the "bullying" use of the element of surprise by unscrupulous workers representatives.

Some bosses, it has been reported, haven't even had time to get out the liquid paper or unlock the fire exits.

Yes, our hearts go out to the real victims of sweatshops, the owners - being gouged by employees for as much as $1 an hour.

What a mighty champion they have in Dr Wong, the workers friend



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