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Issue No. 330 27 October 2006  

Fair Weather Friends
This week’s decision by the Orwellian Fair Pay Commission may have surprised some with its seemingly generous quantum, but in doing so it also reinforced the union movement’s central criticism of the new wage fixing structure.


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.


 Unhappy Campers in Court

 Gran Backs Beazley

 Aunty Strikes at Lakemba Mosque

 Boeing Clause Flies

 Rissole Burns Joint Venture

 US Workers Bush Whacked

 Community Volunteers for Heavy Lifting

 Gong Sounds for Rogue Uni

 ANZ Banks on India

 Hollow Victory for Low Paid

 Life Education for Apprentices



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.

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Tool Shed

Little Big Man

Once a tool, always a tool.


This week the toolshed had the pleasure of bumping into an old boy from Canterbury Boys High School, who told a story of a kid he used to go to school with.

"There was this strange little bloke," the man said, as he took a sip of Reschs and gathered his memories.

"Johnny was his name. He wasn't really like the rest of us. He wore thick coke-bottle glasses; his socks were pulled up so high he had to pull his daks up even higher.

"His voice would whine with a deluded excitement when he spoke, occasionally pausing to suck in the spit that used to gather in his cheeks.

"As you can imagine, he wasn't the most popular kid in school. The rest used to get stuck into him a bit.

"It wasn't really his appearance that got the goat of so many people - he really thought he was hot shit.

"He always used to boast how well he could bowl an off-spinner, but he couldn't play cricket to save his life, embarrassing.

"I remember one time he was standing at the crease and this other kid, Muggsy, threw a beamer at him.

"It knocked him to the ground. All the other kids were laughing. Johnny groggily stood up, took one constipated look at Muggsy, and hobbled away.

"It was after then that the poor little bloke started hanging around this kid called Walker.

"Walker was a couple of years ahead of us - a real nasty peace of work. He had a head like a robber's dog, and a smell about him like the back of a fish shop on a hot afternoon.

"Walker's Daddy was some big noter but he didn't have too many friends in his form.

"He was quite solid and would go around standing over people. Sometimes, he would hit them up for a bit of coin, but mostly he'd just beat them up.

"Johnny would cheer when Walker got into a fight. Occasionally, Johnny would wander up and sink his shoe into the victim's goolies, but only when he was sure they couldn't move.

"When a teacher caught them in the act, they would come up with some gobbledegook about protecting another kid or say it was for the good of the school.

"Most of the time the teachers would shake their heads and move on, rather than having to listen to their nonsense.

"They developed quite a friendship, Walker and Johnny. For the first time, Walker had a friend, and Johnny wasn't getting beaten up.

"But I think there was more to it for John. I mean, I don't think he did it just for protection.

"I think he really enjoyed watching some of the nasty stuff Walker used to do. It was almost as if he wished he could do it himself if only he was a little bigger.

"Eventually, Johnny would go around picking on kids in lower forms, trying to be just like Walker.

"Of course, if the situation ever got too tough for him, he'd go running back to Walker for protection.

"Imagine if Johnny had gone into politics. He'd hang off the coat-tails of some world class bully. I could imagine him, in the papers, talking about how pulling out of a war would make him and his mate look weak. He'd say, getting out of a war would make the world less safe.

"Some people change, old son, but the worst of em just seem to stay the same."


The most inspiring interpretation of this week's tool get's a souvenir edition of Ship of Tools. Deface the Tool of the Week, click the button above to post your artwork, fill out the form and send your entry in and we'll post the winners next week in the Tool of the Week Gallery.


Ship of Tools - All the tools in one shed!

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