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Issue No. 262 06 May 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Rights and Wrongs
Something unseasonal and hitherto untoward has been occurring up at Macquarie Street in recent weeks, a flurry of legislative activity around workers rights.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Fortress NSW
NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca on how to win the battle for workers rights - and save the state system.

Unions: Fashions Afield
With new anti-sweatshop creations being paraded at this year's Australian Fashion Week, is equity the new black and are sweatshops the new fur? asks Tara de Boehmler.

Industrial: Pay Dirt
John Burgess argues that the flow-on effect from changing the minimum wage could be more than we bargained for.

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Big Day Out
Neale Towart looks back on the events that created the May Day heritage.

International: Making History
Hundreds of aid organisations, charities, trade unions and religious groups have formed a global alliance called “ Make Poverty History”.

Economics: The Fear Factor
The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning, argues John Spoehr

Review: The Robots Revolt
New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The idea of a corporations power that could cure any ill has inspired our resident bard, David Peetz, to verse.

N E W S

 Harmer FACS Families

 Brats Drive Bus Row

 Harsh Reality – Bella Turns Pink

 Rev Kev Blesses Bosses

 Workers Online Legit

 Howard Rides Kiwi Model

 Della Opts for Gaol

 Feds in the Dock

 Carr Race to Bottom

 Bosses Walk on Water

 Govt Gets Claws into Nurses

 Ion Faces Legal Probe

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
May Spray
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson delivered the annual May Day Toast - and warned it is no time to be comfortable and relaxed.

The Locker Room
A Rucking Good Time
Phil Doyle reveals many things, some of them useful

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, is back to regale us with inside goss and intrigue from the Bearpit.

L E T T E R S
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News

Howard Rides Kiwi Model


It took New Zealand five years to turn around the economic and social devastation wrought by an IR regime being aped by Australia, a leading Kiwi politician has warned.

Government MP, Nanaia Mahuta, said nine years of life under the Employment Contracts Act, the blueprint for Howard’s agenda, left her country demoralised.

"We faced low morale amongst our working people," Mahuta told Workers Online. "And we lost thousands and thousands of skilled workers, mainly to Australia.

"New Zealand is not a big country and the talent drain still costs us."

Mahuta was sent to Australia by the her government to investigate how Kiwis could be lured home to help rebuild their economy.

Meeting expats, she said, their prime motivations for crossing the Tasman could be summed up in two words - "wages" and "opportunities".

"Even people without high-level skills bought a ticket and got a chance," she said.

"They left a situation, based on individual contracts, that meant employees rights had gone down while employers rights had gone up.

"Five years ago, morale amongst our workforce was not very good at all."

Mahuta said Helen Clark's government had tried to turn that around by putting collective contracts back at the centre of industrial life, boosting apprenticeships, and emphasising workplace safety - things that suffer "when all the emphasis is on the bottom line".

Half a decade after the Employment Contracts Act was ripped up and its authors thrown out of power, Mahuta will have her work cut out convincing large numbers to head home.

The effects of the legislation still hold down living standards and opportunities.

On a recent visit to New Zealand, we found senior security guards driving large quantities of cash around the North Island, earning $12.50 an hour, and experienced heavy equipment operators, with all their tickets, getting $13.

To get overtime, the guards had to work more than 11 hours a day and the machinery operators had to be on the job for more than 50 hours a week.

Mahuta's second trans-Tasman mission was to convince Kiwis to enrol and vote in this year's general election.

New Zealand citizens are entitled to vote if they have set foot in the country at any time over the past three years.

Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, backed Mahuta's call.

"We need to do all we can to make sure Labor is re-elected in New Zealand," Roberston said.

Kiwis can check their enrolment status, and enrol, at: http://www.elections.org.nz/


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