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Issue No. 293 20 December 2005  

Waves of Destruction
2005 was the year book-ended by two waves of destruction - the first causing untold suffering across the Indian Ocean; the second reawakening our darker angels on beaches closer to home.


Interview: Back to the Future
James Gallaway collars Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, on threats, challenges and opportunities.

Unions: A Real Page Turner
Jim Marr glances through Workers Online’s 2005 news stories and finds there is more one way to skin a Rat

Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
Rachael Osman-Chin profiles a white collar union that is having some almighty blues.

International: Around The World In 365 Days
It was a year of online activism, as LabourStart's Eric Lee reports

Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Jim Marr tackles a champion.

Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
The Your Rights At Work campaign has been a big part of this year and, as Phil Doyle reports, it is making a difference.

Politics: The Year That Was
Frank Stillwell looks at year that saw the politics of fear; and finds many reasons to be very afraid.

Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Evan Jones asks if the Neo Liberals are taking us back to the future

Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Nathan Brown ignores Oasis and decides to look back in anger after all

Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Nathan Brown digs through his voluminous dirt files and comes up with the top 10 grubs of the year.

Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
James Gallaway on the Way, the Truth and life according to Brian.


 Melbourne Burns AWAs

 Corporates Defend Costello

 Speaker Won't Talk

 Bank Pays on Dodgy Contracts

 Plan to Save Jobs

 Harper's Bizarre Excuse for Failure

 It's Not Fair: Business

 Workers Walk As Warnings Wiped

 Teenager Hit With Shrapnel

 Pay Day “Unlawful”

 Tassie Rail Win

 Professionals Fear for Their Kids

 Boss Pings Rorters Charter

 New Ways to Take a Share

 An Hour of Need

 Boeing Steals Christmas

 Trouble at the Mill

 Activists What's On


The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2006.

The Soapbox
The Things People Say
It was a year of quotable quotes, reports Phil Doyle.

The Westie Wing
Ian West checks the rear vision mirror on 2005, and plants his foot down

The Locker Room
The 2005 Workers Online Sports Awards
After years of being overlooked by selectors at club, representative and national levels, Phil Doyle and Jim Marr, agreed to hand out our 2005 sports gongs.

Postcard from East Timor
In East Timor entertainment also spreads an important message into the community

 Pension Pinching
 Free to Rat
 Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
 Proportion, Not Distortion
 Corp That!
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Tassie Rail Win

Community action, spearheaded by rail workers, has sparked federal government into injecting $78 million to save Tasmanian rail, but the deal swings on support from crisis-ridden operator, Pacific National.

The state's railworkers joined community protests in September, lobbying politicians after Pacific National threatened to shut down Tasmania's north-south rail corridor unless governments stumped up over $100 million to bail out the system it bought in 2004.

The ultimatum would have unleashed another 300 trucks a day on the state's ageing roads, and cost of over 270 jobs.

"This is a big plus for road safety," says Rail Tram and Bus Union National President Bob Hayden. "Keeping freight trains running on the Hobart-Launceston-Burnie line means that hundreds of trucks a day will be kept off the state's roads."

Tasmanians feared a steep increase in heavy truck traffic would lead to deaths and injuries. A spokesperson from the Tasmanian trucking industry said members could not cope with the increased demand, while a federal study showed transport costs would jump 17%.

Tasmanian RTBU activist, Rex Neil, put together a rail recovery plan that drew on AuslLink funding to Tasmania, a plan that formed the basis of the federal government's $78 million dollar offer.

With the Tasmanian Government agreeing to the package, Hayden called on Pacific National to take up their part of the three-way rescue package to ensure it is delivered. With no current CEO Pacific National is stalling on a decision until next February, but transport economist Bob Cotgrove says he would be surprised if the offer was rejected.

Under the plan Pacific National, which owns the Tasmanian track, would hand it over to the Tasmanian Government at no cost and the State Government will be required to fund estimated maintenance costs of $4 million a year.

Pacific National would be asked to contribute $38 million, for rolling stock replacements and improvements, something Neil says should be a priority to ensure that rail operations in Tasmania remain viable.

Rail workers have also welcomed a planned upgrade of the terminal at Bell Bay.

"This is a bit of an early Christmas present for Tasmanian road users as well as the state's rail workers," said Neil. "Some of them have been retrenched two or three times, and were looking at that happening again.

"The state government shouldn't sneeze at this solution, especially three months out from a state election.

"All parties have to get fair dinkum about fixing the rail track in Tasmania and ensuring it is maintained and managed well into the future."


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