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Issue No. 264 20 May 2005  

Conviction Politics
In modern politics even ideology has become a matter of convenience; look no further than the principle that ‘third parties’ need to be removed from the workplace.


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.


 BHP Gets Decision to Die For

 Howard Turns to Water

 PM Noses into Pinocchio Territory

 Protest is Child’s Play

 A Baloney Deal Under Fire

 Decapitation Witness Dudded

 Newsroom Bullies Make Headlines

 Nelson Takes Axe To Brains

 Council Unhealthy for Families

 Top End Leader Backs Unions

 A Storm In Every Port

 Greens Go Rights

 Activist’s What’s On!


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

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

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Protest is Child’s Play

Kids’ icons the Hooley Dooleys will be the unlikely strike weapon in the fight for working rights, headlining a major protest the Sunday before the Howard Government takes control of the Senate.

The funsters will perform alongside big name entertainers and comedians at Sydney Olympic Park as working people and their families enjoy their "Last Weekend’.

Event organiser and Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says the August 7 event should be a great family day with clowns, rides and stalls to entertain the kids.

But he says it would also have a serious purpose, sending the message that time with the family would be one of the big casualties under the proposed changes to work laws.

Under plans expected to be unveiled this week, the Howard Government is targeting workers rights in four key ways:

- reducing the minimum wage by taking control away from the independent AIRC

- drastically cutting awards and removing key conditions from all workers

- removing dismissal and redundancy rights from all workers employed in businesses with less than 20 employees

- removing bargaining rights, making it harder for workers to join unions and actively promoting secret individual contracts.

"The bottom line is that work rights and the pillars that support secure families and that if you attack these rights you end up attacking families," Robertson says.

"It's only apt that our energy is put into a major event that puts quality family time front and centre in this debate."

The Last Weekend will be the culmination of a three month campaign to raise awareness about the attack on workers which formally kicks off this Friday with a state wide hook-up of delegates over Sky Channel.

A series of campaign events are planned over the coming months including:

- 'The Things Fall Apart' on conference on June 3 where leading academics will chart the impact of labour market deregulation on families and the community.

- The national week of action -

- The state wide stop work meeting, broadcast via SKY channel - July 1

- Lobbying government Mps in marginal seats

- Community action days targeting junior sports events.

Robertson says the aim of the campaign in NSW is to mainstream the message that reducing work rights weakens families, the community and the economy.

"This is a low road agenda that will leave more and more families struggling to have a decent quality of life."

For more on the national campaign go to


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