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Issue No. 259 15 April 2005  

Roosting Chooks
It wasnít that long ago that John Howard was the great Conservative leader who wanted to remake Australia in his own image, defending the monarchy, beating up gay mums and attacking the ABC.


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.


 Freedom From Choice

 Hostile Takeover - Can Howard Do It?

 Premier Sues Miners

 Vanstone Shows Brickieís Cleavage

 Sparkies Refine Safety Tactics

 Ten Cent Deal Cuts Beards

 Kiwis Vote for Flight

 Death Penalty No Deterrent

 Costa Railroads Jobs

 Greystanes Soiled

 Aussies in Ivy league Battle

 Drivers Shake the Cage

 Employers Come Clean

 Big Call in Newcastle

 Bosses Back Gaol for Cowboys

 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.

 Adler Should Be Hung
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Vanstone Shows Brickieís Cleavage

Thousands of foreign bricklayers and carpenters will hit the Australian building industry as the boom tapers off, under changes to the skilled immigration program.

And foreign childcare workers, included in the Migration Occupations in Demand for the first time, will be shipped into Australia without having any formal assessment of their qualifications.

CFMEU national secretary John Sutton says the extension of the skilled migration program comes at precisely the time in the building cycle and will leave Aussie tradesmen on the scrap heap.

Under the changes announced by immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone this week, the Migration Occupations in Demand list will now include: bricklayers, carpenters, joiners, fibrous and solid plasterers, as well as cabinet makers, plumbers and electricians

Sutton says the net result of the intake would be a new pool of cheap labour in the industry, just at the time when activity is slowing.

"You do not need to be an Einstein to work out that if there is a downturn in the industry, it will be the cheap imports that will keep their jobs," Sutton says.

"In our experience, employer sponsorship of migrant workers has resulted in scandalous exploitation of those workers as cheap labour.

"Migrant workers who are unaware of Australia's health and safety regulations have been exposed to serious injury and in one case death."

Sutton says the Federal Government would be better off employing 20,000 young Australians as trades apprentices, rather relying on migrant intakes and sending 10 department officers to boost employer expertise in engaging migrants.

"The Minister's proposal for recruiting overseas students into full fee paying trade apprenticeships in regional centres is a kick in the pants for young Australians.

Low Pay Drives Child Care Shortage

Meanwhile, the LHMU has warned including child care workers will be shipped into the country without proper assessment processes.

NSW LHMU Child Care Union President Jim Lloyd says the Immigration Department's own paper work issued implicitly points to a problem.

" All other occupation categories have an 'Assessing Authority' listed in the paper work but there is no " Assessing Authority' listed for Child Care Co-ordinators.

" The Department wants to bring these people in from overseas but doesn't seem to know how to assess their qualifications"

Lloyd days good skilled people have left an industry they love because of the poor pay and poor career structure.

" The Howard Government's solution is not to attract them back to this vital industry by supporting improved career structures and wages - but to find cheap alternatives overseas."

A Child Care Co-ordinator in NSW can get paid as little as $28,000 a year. The current NSW LHMU Child Care Union pay equity campaign is arguing for a minimum of $50,000 a year.


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