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Issue No. 258 08 April 2005  

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


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 Ö

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.


 Cash Grab Targets Families

 Wattyl Lacks Colour

 Censors Ban Workers Online

 Stink Over Water

 Cole Slurs Slide

 Table Hands Stuffed

 Sweat Shop Taxes MLCís Patience

 Cops Strengthen Thin Blue Line

 Buses Drive Commuters Crazy

 Guards Win Rail War

 Building Families Pocket $15 Million

 Students Mark Lecturers

 Activistís Whatís 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 arenít 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.

 Out-of-sight, out-of-your-mind
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Wattyl Lacks Colour

Wattyl bosses have painted themselves into a corner by labelling striking workers "blobs" in an insult that barely registers on the industrial scale.

Since staff sprung a senior manager describing 350 strikers as "blobs" in an internal email, the company has been in whitewash mode.

"They have been back-pedalling furiously," LHMU assistant secretary, Jo-anne Schofield, reported.

"They claim it was a typo which our members don't believe. We're running a contest for the best explanation of what it was they actually meant."

The manager, based in the company's Ryde head office, gave instructions on "how to prevent a blob from entering the site".

However, a Workers Online search of industrial insults painted the manager's effort as both unoriginal and lame.

The best NSW authority on the subject was an IRC decision, handed down in 1999, on an unjustified dismissal case, arising from a punch-up at BHP Steel.

Commissioner, James Redman, ruled the term that provoked the fisticuffs - "two-faced c..." would rate nine on a scale of 10.

He reasoned "scab", when applied to a strike breaker, would attract a perfect score.

On this scale, Commissioner Redman said, "poofter" would fall at the lower end.

LHMU members returned to work on Wednesday after a three-day strike at five sites around the country in support of EBA claims.

They are seeking annual five percent wage movements and improved redundancy provisions after Wattyl tried to gloss over plans to shut its Blacktown operation which employs 120 workers.

"We met in December and they assured us no decisions had been taken but, two days later, workers discovered a costed proposal to close Blacktown," Schofield said.

"That proposal included reasons on why the company should play its cards close to its chest in negotiations with workers."


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