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December 2002   

Interview: Trade Secrets
Federal Labor�s trade spokesman Craig Emerson is on a mission to bring the shady world of trade talks into the open

Industrial: It�s About Overtime, Stupid
An overtime free-for-all is at the heart of Australia�s hours explosion and it's time to look at a cap on hours, reports Noel Hester from the ACTU�s Working Hours Summit.

Unions: Full Steam Ahead
After two weeks of rallies around the state, rural Rail Towns are making a stand for jobs and safety. Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: The BBQ Battle Axe
Manly restaurateur, David Diamond, is a shoo-in for this month�s Bad Boss nomination, leaving Workers Online looking for a good employer who can undo some of his damage.

Economics: Different Dimensions of Debt
Professor Frank Stilwell presented the big picture on debt policy at the Evatt Foundation�s Breakfast Seminar

History: Raking the Coals
Labour historians Rae Cooper and Greg Patmore explain why today�s organisers have much to learn from the lessons of the past.

History Special: Wherever the Necessity Exists
Rae Cooper tracks NSW union organising between 1900-1910 to argue that today�s activists should be looking closer to home for inspiration

History Special: Learning from the Past
Ray Markey looks at union membership growth in the 1880s & 1900s to argue that today�s unions must engage to grow.

History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Barbara Webster looks at Rockhampton between 1916 � 1957 to debunk the �dependence� theory of trade union growth.

Politics: Regime Change for Saddam
Labour lawyer Jim Nolan looks at the challenge for the Left in the current geopolitical stand-off in the Middle East.

International: World War
Europe has suddenly come aflame with industrial action, Andrew Casey reports.

Corporate: Industrious Thinking
Neale Towart looks at the influence of German immigration on Australian industry policy in the post-war period.

Review: Jack High
Mick Molloy�s new flick Crackerjack tells the tale of a traditional bowling club struggling to stay afloat in an industry dominated by pokies, pokies and more pokies, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Culture: Duffy�s Song
Former Labor Council official Mark Duffy�s Sydney super band Sundial clocks in a bit of a corker.

Satire: A Nation of Sooks
The Strewth Institute's Tony Moore looks at the spate of defo suits and wonders if Australia has gone soft.

Poetry: Mr Flexibility
One of the key challenges facing unions, as the ACTU celebrates its 75th anniversary, is confronting the problems of increasing working hours and work intensity under the guise of "flexibility". Our resident bard, David Peetz, takes up that theme this week.


The Soapbox
Economic Migrants
A man - a worker - risks death by machine gun to escape what he is told is a 'workers' state'. He flees East Berlin through a tunnel, dug beneath a cemetery.

And the Winner Is �
It�s that time of the year when we honour the best. In the past week, both the IR Writers fraternity and ACTU have got in the act with more to come.

The Locker Room
More Post-Colonial Madness
Phil Doyle joins the fools and Englishmen out in the midday sun, and finds that it all comes at a price.

Call Waiting
The Howard Government backs off its plans to privatise the rest of Telstra under market pressure. But it�s nothing like the pressure that former HIH directors are under.

Month In Review
Way Down
As Elvis might have said, if he had had a longer-term perspective �ooh, what a month it was, it really was such a month ��


Lessons from History
History has a seemingly infinite capacity to create and debunk myths, as the latest offering from the Journal of Labour and Social History shows.


 And On the Seventh Day � Satan Joins Union

 Security Masks Political Bans

 Members Offered Spotters' Fee

 Casuals Written Out of the Script

 New Mining Bully On the Block

 ACTU Examines The Cap Option On Hours

 No Sweetener for Diabetic Workers

 Pressure Goes on Apartheid Employers

 ASIC Turns Blind Eye on Dodgy Boss

 Family Test Case a Priority Campaign

 Echoes of Prestige Hit Home

 Brutal Bashing Sparks Prison Strike

 Minister Challenged by Cleaners

 ABC Journos Off The Air

 Union Says RSCPA "Kills"...

 Guards Demand Campus Security

 Uni Backs Down On Regional Review

 Peace Returns to US Docks

 Activists Notebook

 Oh Bugger Me!
 State Based Organising
 Gino on the Gong
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Call Waiting

The Howard Government backs off its plans to privatise the rest of Telstra under market pressure. But it�s nothing like the pressure that former HIH directors are under.

Telstra Cops a Kicking

Prime Minister John Howard has announced he will delay the full privatisation of Telstra because of the company's low share price. As part of its Federal Budget update, the Howard Government has said it delay the sale of its 50.1 per cent stake in Telstra from the 2003/04 time-frame laid out in May's Federal Budget. The mid-year review has slashed $1.3 billion from Telstra's estimated price tag, pushing shares to a new five-year low of $4.38, compared with the $7.40 T2 investors paid in the last sell-off. Analysts have blamed internal problems for the telco's share price, with earnings downgraded because of problems with cost control and competition. (Various Sources)

HIH Players Could Get Jail

The HIH liquidator believes individuals could be jailed over Australia's biggest corporate collapse. KPMG's Tony McGrath says the Australian Securities and Investments Commission would pursue people it believed were responsible for HIH's failure For his part, Mr McGrath says HIH's directors, auditors and other advisers were on his list of who to consider suing to maximise returns to creditors. HIH's estimated losses remained within the range of $3.5 billion to $5.3 billion but the figure would be updated next year. Although he already holds about $1 billion in cash and securities after selling some of the insurer's property and assets, Mr McGrath does not expect to claw back anywhere near the full losses. (Source: SMH)

Ex-Media Boss to Stand Trial

THE former managing director of failed media company The Satellite Group Ltd, Greg Fisher, has been committed to stand trial. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has brought the charges against Mr Fisher, alleging he improperly used his position as an officer of The Satellite Group (Ultimo) Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Satellite Group Ltd, to gain a financial advantage for himself. Satellite Group, a gay and lesbian media company, was placed into voluntary administration in November 2000 with an estimated $10 to $15 million in liabilities. The company, once headed by Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps, was subjected to vicious board infighting and the resignation of Dr Phelps from the chairman's job and crippling debt finally took its toll. ASIC alleges that, in September 1999, Mr Fisher entered into an agreement with a proposed purchaser of a unit in a property development undertaken by Satellite Ultimo whereby $250,000 of the purchase price would be offset against Mr Fisher's purchase of a Dynacraft 14-metre luxury motor yacht. (Source: SMH)

Brambles Chiefs Called to Account

Investors have suggested Brambles Industries should dump its top two executives, managing director Sir CK Chow and finance director David Turner, and called on the pair to return at least part of their lucrative salary packages in view of the company's shock profit downgrade. Major funds are believed to have raised the issue in meetings last week with Brambles chairman Don Argus after the once-sturdy blue chip company made its third profit warning in 12 months, this time due to problems with its CHEP pallet business in Europe. The company revealed that it would need to spend $238 million as part of a 2 year program to restructure the business.. Brambles shares have dropped 32 per cent to six-year lows since the downgrade on Thursday and have lost 58 per cent in the past 12 months. (Source: SMH)

Union Critical Of MIM Takeover Bid

The possible takeover of Queensland's MIM Holdings by Swiss company X-strata PLC has drawn criticism from the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). CFMEU spokesman Tony Maher says members are gearing up for a battle with an X-strata subsidiary in the New South Wales' Hunter Valley, claiming the company is refusing to honour workplace agreements. He says that campaign could extend to MIM's Bowen Basin mines if the takeover bid succeeds. Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has called on shareholders in MIM Holdings to keep the company Queensland-owned. But he says there is no role for the Government in the negotiations. (Source: SMH)

Lime Firm Sold to Belgian Group

A 124-year old Melbourne lime producer, founded by Dame Nellie Melba's father, has been sold to a Belgian conglomerate for an undisclosed sum. David Mitchell Limited (DML) was bought by Unimin Australia on Friday, delivering the nation's leading independent producer of limestone products into foreign hands. Unimin Australia is part of the Unimin group of companies based in the United States. It is majority controlled by S.C.R. Sibelco SA, a Belgian corporation with industrial minerals operations throughout Europe . (Source: The Age)

Fat Suit Frivolous, Says McDonald's

McDonald's should not be held responsible for youth obesity, a lawyer for the fast-food chain said as he urged a US federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by overweight Big Mac eaters. The suit in a New York federal court seeks damages from McDonald's for allegedly causing children who eat it to become obese and develop diabetes, heart disease, high-blood pressure and other health conditions.

McDonald's dismisses the claims as frivolous. The judge reserved his decision and did not indicate when he would issue a ruling. The suit was filed in August by the parents of two New York children who became obese and developed health problems after eating regularly at McDonald's. (Source: The Age)

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