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Issue No. 329 20 October 2006  

Sucking the Oranges
Every three years the Australian union movement comes together for a gathering that is part policy forum, part Jamboree, the ACTU Congress.


Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Finance Sector Union national secretary Paul Schroder is standing between the big banks and a bucket of money.

Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Chris Christodoulou gives seven reasons why WorkChoices is bad for business

Unions: The IT Factor
The future of Australian IT looks grim as big companies lead the rush to India and China, writes Jackie Woods.

Politics: Bargain Basement
Simple principles of democracy underpin the ACTU's collective bargaining proposal, insists ACTU Secrteary Greg Combet.

Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Al Gore may be warning of climate breakdown, but what hope the truth when he's up against such a well-oiled machine? asks Paul Sheridan

Corporate: Two Sides
Bilateral trade agreements are a good idea – just ask the US multinationals. The rest of us should strongly disagree says Pat Ranald

International: Unfair Dismissals
Nearly 10,000 workers were fired for their trade union activities in 2005, an annual trade union survey shows.

History: A Stitch in Time
Neale Towart takes some lessons from female textile workers while considering the case for recognition ballots.

Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
A film charting the turmoil of the Irish war for independence against British occupation during the 1920s might seem an odd choice for top honours at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.


 Bananas in the Mail

 Dragons Slay St George

 Collective Contracts Still Rule

 Boeing Bombs Individual Contracts

 Multis Raid Nest Eggs

 "Guests" Stood Over, AMWU

 Aunty Off the Air

 Ban Ki-Moon, Koreans Warn

 Super Shafting at Telstra

 Qantas IT calls Bangalore home

 Three Question Method

 AWAs: Kids Stuff


The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a walk around the backyard with the Prime Minister…

The Soapbox
Rise Up
Hugo Chavez's explosive address to the United Nations

The Fear Factor
A new analysis of the history of fear takes us from the war on terror all the way to the modern workplace.

 Thanks Betina
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Piers Watch

Dancin’ With Mr Vanstone

Whose fault is it 40 guest workers in Queensland are underpaid, live like sardines and are threatened with the sack if they complain? Why, Big Ted’s, of course.


One would have thought covering a story would be the bread-and-butter of news organisations.

Filipino guest workers paid $27,000 a year - $13,000 less than they were promised - and charged four times the market value to live in a cramped house, under a controversial Government policy, has a touch of news value in it.

What's more, the sacking of some of the guest workers for approaching a union, while the Government preaches the advances to freedom of association in its workplace laws, would have any non-News Limited journalist asking questions.

So you would think it would be quite reasonable for the ABC's Lateline to send a camera crew to one of these cramped houses as the workers prepare to start work at 4am.

But the Minister for Mars Bars, Amanda Vanstone, disagrees.

The Liberal Party-nominated axis of evil had struck again - that unholy duo, the national broadcaster and the union movement.

Van the Man said the fact the workers received calls from - shock horror - their wives while the ABC was there, proved it was a set up.

"Just fortuitously, these things all came together at the time," she said.

This sort of paranoia explains the munchies she must get on a fairly regular basis.

It also explains the kind of muddle-headedness that would have the Minister attacking the union over the story, rather than the company that is responsible for the situation.

Vanny blasted the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union taking the story to the media, saying the union should have come to her personally.

Not because bringing it to the media's attention might make the Government's guest worker program look like a farce.

Rather because Vanny is a big girl with a big heart and is as interested as unions in stamping out exploitation.

That's obviously why she voted for the 21st Century equivalent of the Masters and Servants Act.

It's also why when a Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs report discovered a slaughterhouse in South Australia had rorted the guest worker scheme earlier this year, Vanstone sat on it.

If there's anything the Toolshed does not want to be reincarnated as, it's a DIMIA report.

Or a guest worker, for that matter.

The swim home might be dangerous, but not as dangerous as Amanda Vanstone's offer of help.


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