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Issue No. 259 15 April 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

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.

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 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.

N E W S

 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

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 arenít 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
 Adler Should Be Hung
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Costa Railroads Jobs


Former Transport Minister, Michael Costa, is being fingered for the likely loss of 600 skilled Hunter Valley jobs.

Stunned worker representatives are gob-smacked by the Minister for the Hunterís failure to warn them his government would slash local content requirements for 500 new carriages, from 100 percent to 20 percent.

AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, said 600 Hunter Valley workers were directly employed by carriage building companies.

"Michael Costa has failed to advocate for his constituents," Bastian said. "Now we have the absurd situation where his failure could lead to skilled jobs, and an entire industry, being exported in the middle of a skills crisis."

In a brief tenure as Transport Services Minister, Costa fought running battles with rail workers and their representatives before being shunted to the Roads portfolio.

Local content rules for rail helped Newcastle, and surrounding areas, grow into an engineering hub.

Currently, most NSW carriages are built at Goninans and EDI plants in the city.

New content rules became public when Railcorp revealed German giant, Siemens, and a Canadian company had been short listed to supply 500 new carriages for Sydney's suburban network.

Workers Online understand that Railcorp wanted local content reduced to 40 percent but that Labor politicians slashed it further.

Combined Rail unions will go the community in a bid to have them change their minds. They have targeted the Labor's 11 Hunter MPs for special attention.

Bastian applauded this week's announcement that Gonninans had won a contract for 81 carriages but said it would not sustain jobs, long term.

"It was a welcome reprieve but not enough to save the industry in the Hunter Valley," he said.

Cabinet Minister Costa has recently drawn fire from Hunter backbenchers who claimed he failed to consult of matters affecting their constituents.


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