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Issue No. 356 21 December 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

The End
In vintage Workers Online fashion we have detected a minor, but telling, factual error in last week’s missive/suicide note. It’s not a seven year itch – this is, in fact, the end of an eight year project.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Terminator
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson looks back on the highs and lows of a year when the battle lines were drawn.

Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Jim Marr glances back through a year of news and discovers plenty of reason for optimism…

Unions: Breaking News
The web offered new ways of covering unions issues. Here’s ten ways Workers Online tried to do things differently.

History: Seven Deadly Sins
Looking back on our annual year-ender editorials gives a nice overview of the journey we have taken.

Economics: Back to the Future
Political economist Frank Stilwell looks back at a year that saw the passing of the drivers of two strains of economic thought.

Politics: Organising and Organisations
Organising for unionists can mean overcoming the “union”. The “rolling of the right” by the BLF rank and file shows the power of workers united to defeat the power of bosses and certain union bosses.

International: Web Retrospective
Unions and the web – What's changed in the last seven years? The short answer is – everything and nothing, wrties Eric Lee

Review: Shock Therapy
Unreconstructed Kazakhi journalist Borat is unleashed on the ‘US and A’ offending everyone – except the bigots.

N E W S

 High Flyers Go For Gold

 Hospital Staff Prescribe Radical Surgery

 Holland Goes Dutch on Safety

 New Thinking to Transport Sydney

 Check Mate - Track Your Personal Info

 WorkChoices on a Trolley

 See No Evil, OEA

 Feltex Carpets PM's Fibs

 Workers Blood on the Walls

 Lift For Unfair Dismissal Campaign

 No Discrimination on Choice

 Vanstone Opens New Meat Market

 Activists' Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Future
So Where to Now?
Amanda Tattersall outlines her plans for Working NSW and the challenge of connecting research, communications and campaigning.

Obituary
Gone But Not Forgotten
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1915-2006). His memory is still being honoured, writes Jim Marr

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite politician bids adieu and hangs up his chestnuts.

L E T T E R S
 Hit For Six
 Kind Words
 Sorely Missed
 All the Best
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

High Flyers Go For Gold


Qantas executives will trouser more than $100 million to see home a takeover bid expected to slash jobs and services.

The massive sweeteners, set to net CEO Geoff Dixon, alone, $60 million, are key elements in a private equity takeover that would replace around $8 billion in shareholder funds with debt.

Dixon assured Australians nothing would change at the national carrier but the takeover consortium's own paperwork makes a mockery of that assurance.

One of the operations making up Airline Partners Australia, Allco, is specific in its presentation on the deal.

It predicts, under its control, Qantas' annual revenue growth would fall from seven to two percent while profit growth would leap from two to 25 percent.

The figures were prepared for Allco by Macquarie Equities Research, a division of another takeover partner, Macquarie Bank.

Analysts say the only way to deliver on that prediction is by slashing labour costs and services and, possibly, increasing charges.

The Airline Partners Australia proposal will deliver massive fees to financiers - hundreds of millions of dollars.

It would see Qantas delisted from the stock exchange to become a privately-owned company, with $10 billion of the $13 billion purchase price financed by debt.

The bid, headed by Macquarie Bank and US private equity operation Texas Pacific, has been structured to circumvent foreign ownership rules.

Unions, representing 37,000 airline workers, are urging the federal government to intervene on national interest grounds.

Acting AMWU national secretary, Dave Oliver, says Texas Pacific has "form" on leveraged buyouts.

He points to a "meticulously planned assault" on union members after it bought UK cater, Gate Gourmet, in 2002.

It initiated mass sacking at Heathrow Airport and brought in contract workers on vastly inferior wages and conditions. The exercise slashed 3000 jobs.

"There should be a national interest test," Oliver says.

"Qantas doesn't just employ tens of thousands of Australian workers. It provides crucial services for regional Australia, trains hundreds of apprentices and does defence work.

"Australia can't afford to put those things at risk.

"It appears they have inflated the price to get the deal through and they will want to recoup their money from jobs and services.

"At this point, the only definite winners are the directors who gave the go-ahead and will take multi-million bonuses for themselves."

Qantas unions are calling on the Treasurer, Peter Costello, to use his statutory power to impose stringent conditions on the takeover.


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