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Issue No. 265 27 May 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Hit and Myth
John Howard came to power on the back of a myth about the sort of Australia we had once been; now he is creating a new myth about the sort of Australia we want to become.

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

 Sign or You're Gone

 Unions Back a Winner

 Howard Chases Nurses

 Victims Champ Joins Resistance

 Red and Green Blue

 Usual Suspects Lead Cheer Squad

 Ugly Australian On Charges

 Aussies Longer and Harder

 Guard Attached, Then Sacked

 Doh – Homero Loses Voice

 Bunbury Families Win Payouts

 Double Standards For Dads

 Libs Back 'Illegal' Rally

 TAFE Teaches A Lesson On Winning

 Activist’s What’s On!

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
 LETTERS LIVE AGAIN!
 One Hell Of A Job
 US Fan Mail
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Victims Champ Joins Resistance


Asbestos victims champion, Bernie Banton, is urging Australians to get out and back trade unions in their battle for survival.

Banton, who has fielded Hollywood offers to put his life story on film, became the human face of a successful campaign against James Hardie’s effort to dud asbestos victims of compensation entitlements.

Today, in Sydney, he said victims, and their families, would never have won their $4.9 billion settlement without strong, active union support.

The asbestosis sufferer pledged his backing to delegates from across the movement at a Sydney meeting, organised by Unions NSW.

"As long as I can breathe I will be fighting to defend the Australian union movement," Banton said. "I take this opportunity to pledge my uncompromising support for your campaign to defend trade union rights.

"I condemn the Howard government's industrial relations attack on Australian workers and their families. The proposed laws are unjust and unfair.

"However, I am confident the community at large will recognise the unfairness of these new laws and join your campaign. I assure you of the support of asbestos victims and people who value the principles of social justice and a fair go."

Banton said asbestos victims owed a debt to trade unionists who spearheaded the battle against James Hardie's plan to move off shore and leave thousands of families without compensation.

The corporation was exposed and hunted down by a campaign spearheaded by the AMWU, CFMEU, MUA and Unions NSW.

In the end, Banton joined ACTU secretary, Greg Combet, in negotiating a deal that committed James Hardie to funding compensation claims for the next 50 years.

Meanwhile, the Uniting Church has branded elements of Howard's agenda "immoral".

National director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev Elenie Poulos, said the labour market was not like any other.

"People are not commodoties in the service of greater profits and should not be exploited," Poulos said. "The Government's decision to strip workers of their rights to challenge unfair dismissals is immoral."

Poulos said her church was already concerned for the well-being of increasing numbers of casual workers, especially women, and could see nothing in Howard's proposals that would improve their situations.

"We must remember that the purpose of a strong economy is to help Australians access secure and equitable standards of living," she said.


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