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  Issue No 96 Official Organ of LaborNet 18 May 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: The Enabler
On the eve of the release of his latest book, Beazley’s brain on the back-bench, Mark Latham, talks about putting the social back into socialism.
*  Unions: Flogged To Death
One third of Australian workers now work in conditions that would be deemed illegal in Europe. While in our workplaces so much is being done by so few with so little the Howard Government leans on its shovel reports Noel Hester.
*  Corporate: Nike's Six Broken Promises
A new international report on the labour practices at Nike have placed their stated commitment to ethical employment under the microscope.
*  International: Jagath at the Solidarity Cafe
When the brave workers at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta marched on May Day, a Sydney unionist was by their side.
*  Education: The Battle for Free Thought
The recent sacking of Dr Ted Steele at the University of Wollongong has focused attention on the need for vigilant defence of employment rights and academic freedom.
*  History: Federation and Labour
The labour movement’s role in the 1897 Federal Convention and the subsequent referenda process has been largely forgotten.
*  Satire: Addict Stops Using Smack After Talk With Parents
A 21-year-old heroin addict has agreed to give up his habit after his parents told him that using drugs was wrong.
*  Review: Rouge or Red?
Mark Hebblewhite argues that the new Baz Luhrmann blockbuster isn't without its class analysis.

Jagath in Jakarta

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A Crumby Deal

WorkCover: Della Should Split the Package
The NSW Labor Council has called on the Carr Government to refer contentious elements of its workers compensation reform package to an independent inquiry.
[ Full Story » ]

HIH Workers Win Severance Guarantee
Employees of failed insurance giant HIH, still working to resolve the claims of policy holders, have won a battle for redundancy payments in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission today.
[ Full Story » ]

Abbott Runs From OEA Failure
The backflip by Federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott on his threatened inquiry into the building industry demonstrates the lack of substance in the report of the Office of the Employment Advocate.
[ Full Story » ]

Angry Musos Aim Riffs at Della
Angry musicians are planning to unleash a shock industrial tactic against the Department of Industrial Relations – by vowing to play covers of former Top 40 hits until it moves to protect them from unscrupulous agents.
[ Full Story » ]

Second Prize In The Arnott’s Sell-Out
Melbourne unionists have had an important redundancy pay victory on behalf of casual workers, in a dispute over the shutdown of Arnott’s, an early Australian icon in the history of manufacturing in this country.
[ Full Story » ]

Banks Workers Opt for People Over Pay
Finance sector workers are prepared to forgo pay increases in order to improve services to the community as they gear up for industry-wide wage negotiations.
[ Full Story » ]

Bosses Raise Stakes in State Wage Case
Employer groups have thrown a spanner in the works of the State Wage Case by seeking to stymie the use of consent awards struck directly between unions and employers.
[ Full Story » ]

Refugee Riots Sparked By Strike Action
It’s been revealed that strike action at Port Hedland followed industrial action by detainees over the amount they were being paid to help maintain the privately-owned facility.
[ Full Story » ]

Vodafone Promotes It’s Own
It wasn’t enough to sack them on the spot: Vodofone this week added to the insult by inserting promotional material for their phones to the termination letters that 400 staff received.
[ Full Story » ]

Champion Workers Left With Nothing
Around 30 former employees of Champion Forms Marrickville are picketing their plant in an attempt to get paid for entitlements that are rightfully their’s. They are victims of a high-finance scheme gone wrong.
[ Full Story » ]

Bid for Reasonable Hours to AIRC
A test case being filed in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission this week sets out to create new award guidelines for reasonable working hours.
[ Full Story » ]

Political Economy Courses at Sydney University
Union members and activists wanting to come to grips the economic orthodoxies that bombard us daily will find excellent alternatives supplied by the courses presented at Sydney University by the Political Economy Group. They are an ideal antidote to the nostrums of the Economically Correct.
[ Full Story » ]

Activist Notebook
Action on Burma, discussion on workplace democracy and politicis in the pub are all on this week's activist agenda.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • New Editorial Guidelines

  • Letter to Canberra

  • A Fowler Smell

  • Who Saved May Day?

  • Editorial

    A Right Royal Stuff-Up

    You can picture it can't you? Howard and his acolytes poring over the polling and realizing they need a miracle to avoid electoral oblivion and looking for something, anything to turn the tide.

    'What about the unions?' some bright spark offers. 'A Vote for Labor is a Vote for the the Corrupt Union Movement' - it's worked before, why can't it work now?

    Step forward Tony Abbott, Howard loyalist, ambitious bovver boy and new 'minister for putting the horns on the communist devil'.

    Gets his mate the Employment Advocate to scour the papers for some unsubstantiated allegations, put the words 'official report' on the title page, and you're on your way.

    And so a plot is hatched to elevate an internal union struggle into a national political issue - despite the fact that the construction industry has been at its most stable and productive for the past decade.

    But something is wrong - Royal Commissions are in the air - but not about unions. This time it's the collapse of one of the Liberals' largest corporate donors and whether 'Sloppy' Joe Hockey should have seen the tidal wave coming.

    Too late, Hamburger has done his job (as it is) and released the report. Abbott is caught in the spotlight - should he bash the unions or go against every fibre in his psyche and hold back.

    The three week 'delay' to 'consider' the Hamberger 'report' is really an attempt to clear HIH our of the news before announcing the Royal Commission Howard and Abbott are so desperate to unleash on the union movement.

    But they should be wary: these type of circuses have backfired on previous Tory government; attempts to expose union corruption typically end up casting a far darker shadow on the captains of industry.

    There have been some conspiracies that deserve investigation in recent times: take the systematic theft of employee entitlements; the brutal use of lock-outs to beat workforces into submission and the legislated technique to drive down wages through publicy-funded promotion of individual contracts.

    But you won't get any of these in a terms of reference emanating from this government - that would take a real commitment to working people. As has always been the case, its so much easier to try and bash their representatives.

    Whatever the outcome, most Australians will see through the cynicism. Asked the question 'who has too much power - trade unions or corporate Australia?' most would opt for Howard's mates.

    If they want a battle on this field, bring it on: Hands off the unions. It's time to focus on the corporate sector.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    The Last of the Webmasters Survivor III – The NRL Paul Howes’ Week on the Web Sloppy Joe



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