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Issue No. 268 17 June 2005  

Courting Public Opinion
This weekend marks a significant step forward in the evolution of union campaigning, with the launch of $8 million in advertising to hit the Howard Government where it hurts – in the lounge rooms of middle Australia.


Interview: The Baby Drought
Social ethicist Leslie Cannold has delved into why women - and men - are having fewer children. And it all comes back to the workplace.

Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
David Peetz uncovers the truth behind the latest statistics on earnings under Australian Workplace Agreements.

Workplace: The Invisible Parents
Current government policies about work and family do not reflect the realities of either family life or the modern workplace. writes Don Edgar.

History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
The Big Fella, Jack Lang, gives an eyewitness account of the last time Conservatives tried to dismantle Australia’s industrial relations system.

Politics: All God's Children
The battle for morality is not confined to Australian polittics. Michael Walzer writes on the American perspective

Economics: Spun Out
The business groups are feeling cocky. The feds have announced their IR changes, business says they don't go far enough. What a surprise, writes Neale Towart

International: Shakey Trials
Lyndy McIntyre argues the New Zealnd IR experiment provides warnings - and hope - for the Australian union movement.

Legal: Civil Distrubance
Tom Roberts argues that there is more at stake than an attack on building workers in the looming legsilation.

Review: Crash Course In Racism
Paul Haggis flick Crash suggests that when cars collide the extent of people's prejudices are revealed sans the usual veil of political correctness, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: You're Fired
New laws will leave bosses holding the whip and workers with a Raw Hide, writes resident bard David Peetz


 Insults Hertz

 Andrews Bends Over for Big End

 Boeing, Boeing Gone

 Cobb & Co Punt Parkes

 Corporates Arm Firing Squad

 Quad Gets the Brush

 Practical Joke Costs Police

 Unions Target Soap and Grunt

 US Backs Terrorists

 Royalty Held Hostage in WA

 Bad News Rising On AWAs

 Workers Exercise Choice

 Howard Scores Own Goal

 RailCorp Shocker

 Activists Whats On!


The Locker Room
Ashes to Dust
In which Phil Doyle travels to distant lands in search of a meat pie, and prepares for the joys of sleep deprivation

The Westie Wing
Ian West lists the Top Ten reasons why workers in NSW can gain some solace from having the Labor Party sitting on the Treasury benches…

The Soapbox
Dear John
In response to this year’s Federal Budget, Bishop Kevin Manning wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard

 Wandering In The Wilderness
 Once Upon A Time In America
 The Truth Is Out There
 History Repeats
 Cash Cow On Private Tax Farm
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Cobb & Co Punt Parkes

A western NSW textile worker is challenging a Federal pollie to live on 80 cents an hour.

Anthony Dawson is one of 108 workers who face redundancy after Australian Topmaking Services announced they were moving their Parkes plant to China where textile workers get 80 cents an hour.

He threw down the challenge to his local National Party MP for Parkes, John Cobb, who is part of a government is pushing for a free trade deal with the communist republic.

"It's terrible to think the Howard Government is looking at going into a free trade deal with China at the same time as they are going to knock back our workplace rights," says Dawson. "Our living standards are going to drop."

"We should be hanging onto these standards and rights and showing them to the rest of the world."

"Employees made many sacrifices in an attempt to keep the operation viable."

To remain competitive with the Chinese the Australian Topmaking Services would have had to run with 10 staff members.

Australian Topmaking Services workers and their families are now looking at having to leave the regional centre.

"Many are saying they don't want to, but they'll have to," says Dawson, who has lived in Parkes for 32 years. His young family may also face the joining the exodus.

Dawson and his co-worker, Geoff Smith, drove 300 kilometres to tell delegates at the state ALP Conference of the "catastrophic" effect the closure of the plant will have on their community.

"There's an attempt here to reduce our wages," says Dawson. "Is it going to come to the point where our sheep get shorn there and are cut up into chops and sent back here because it's cheaper?"

The Australian Topmaking Services textile workers have secured a redundancy package over and above the agreement, which they put down to the efforts of their union, the TCFUA.

"The collective bargaining system that worked at Austop was a success," says Dawson.

Local Independent MP for Dubbo, Dawn Fardell, has also backed them, coming out "unambiguously" against the IR changes, according to Dawson.

"We need practical support so people have a future," says Dawson, who is surprised by the silence from John Cobb. "We haven't heard anything from him. Not even a facsimile."

The news comes as textile manufacturer Gale Pacific announced that around 100 jobs would go to China from it's Melbourne plant.


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