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March 2003   

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Interview: League of Nations
ICFTU general secretary Guy Ryder on the war, core labour standards and why Australia is an international pariah.

Industrial: 20/20 Hindsight
A retrospective analysis of the Accord is needed to help develop future strategies. Is it worth trying again? And if so, what would need to be different?

Organising: On The Buses
A new rank and file leadership team is standing up for the harried bus driver in the run-up to the NSW State Election

Unions: National Focus
A gaze around the country reveals some inspiring and innovative organising initiatives, a fruitful connection with young workers in South Australia and some typically robust industrial campaigns reports Noel Hester.

History: The Banner Room
On the eve of it�s refurbishment, Jim Marr ventures into one of Trades Hall�s best kept secrets; the room that houses relics of labour�s halcyon days.

International: The Slaughter Continues
Chilling new statistics from Colombia's main trade union confederation CUT: nine trade unionists assassinated in the first two months of this year.

Legal: A Legal Case For War?
Aaron Magner looks at the legal implications of the crusade of the Coalition of the Willing

Culture: Singing For The People
When there�s a struggle for social justice, when a war is brewing or rights are being eroded, the first ones to pen, paper and protest are often the folkwriters.

Review: The Hours
On the eve of International Women�s Day Tara de Boehmler follows the tale of three women who would rather choose death than a life devoid of personal choice.

Poetry: I Wanna Bomb Saddam
Scarier than Star Wars, the latest weapon to be deployed in the battle for Iraq is the Singing Dubya.

Satire: Diuretic Makes Warne's Excuses Look Thin
Australian cricketer Shane Warne today admitted that he was still feeling the after effects of the diuretic he tested positive to.


The Soapbox
Workers Friend
Shock jock Alan Jones snubbed his Liberal mates to bucket the Cole Royal Commission and launch Jim Marr's book

The Locker Room
Boer Bore Boring
In the face of oppression Phil Doyle falls asleep in front of the TV

Guest Report
Dead Labor
The Hawke and Keating legacy is John Howard, Leonie Bronstein argues.

Hands Off, Tony
John Della Bosca argues the NSW Industrial Relations System gives his State a competitive advantage.

Groundhog Day
Another year, another round of corporate excess. Bosswatch returns from its summer slumber to find the same old dogs up to the same tricks.


Re-considering The Accord
The twentieth anniversary of the Hawke Government�s election provides an opportunity to ponder the Accord�s historical conundrum: how at the moment of the union movement�s greatest influence did it suffer its greatest loss of members?


 Sacre Bleu � It�s �La Gong� Now

 Mum Raises Labour Hire Bar

 Investigate the Buggers

 NSW Libs Madder Than The Monk

 Kits Strike Terror into Govt

 West Braces for Shelling

 Executive Pay Under Senate Spotlight

 Clean Energy�s Jobs Bonus

 Zoo Workers Buck �Mercy Killing�

 Canberra Firefighters Win Union Backing

 Global Equity Under Spotlight

 Aussie Workers Fight Indian Child Labour

 Water on the Brain

 Activists Notebook

 Re - Core/Non Core promises.
 Strangers in the House
 Nursing Home Concerns
 Catholic Tastes
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Groundhog Day

Another year, another round of corporate excess. Bosswatch returns from its summer slumber to find the same old dogs up to the same tricks.

Hand-Wringing Over Exec Pay

They've been lining up to condemn it, the 'obscene' payments going to the Top End of Town. The catalyst was the AMP options orgy with outgoing execs showered with the gold stuff after leaving shareholders facing a $90 million loss. Treasurer Costello says he's outraged and would be willing to consider tighter controls if someone came up with them. Even our PM lifted his gaze through the fog of war to warn "fellow believers in private enterprise" that the growing community anger about multimillion-dollar golden handshakes could force governments to intervene. The only problem is that no-one seems to have any constructive ideas on what to actually do about the excesses. At its most radical, it seems to come down to a strange concept called 'transparency' - tell the punters how much you're taking and they may not let you get away with it. That's what all the Australian Stock Exchange could come up with - drafting new regulations to force disclosure. But then again, as a publicly listed company itself, its unlikely to rock the corporate boat too vigorously. (Various Sources)

AMP Sets New Benchmark

The latest round of chatter has been sparked by the bizarre goings on inside AMP, where half the board resigned ahead of the announcement of a $900 million loss that sent share prices below $8 and saw the value of the former mutual fund on a seeming slippery slope to oblivion. The anger amongst mum and dad shareholders was heightened when they learned that chairman Stan Wallis would be walking away with a $1.5 million retirement package. Wallis is no stranger to big payouts. Coles Myer - which dropped about $1 billion in value during Mr Wallis's last year as chairman - is yet to officially reveal his retirement benefit. With AMP also in dispute with another of its executive casualties, Paul Batchelor, over the former CEO's severance pay - speculated to be around $20 million, something had to give. With commentators crying foul, the Australian Shareholders Association applying pressure and building workers chanting outside AMP HQ, it all got too much and Wallis announced he would forgo his retirement bonus. And the bitter irony? This is the man who in 1997 wrote the Wallis Report, the Howard Government's blueprint for the financial system. (Various Sources)

Southcorp's Bitter Harvest

Winemaker Southcorpserved up another double-whammy to shareholders, with news it would fail to meet a revised profit forecast while fessing up paying out $4.4 million to sacked chief executive Keith Lambert. The payout was calculated on the basis that Lambert was halfway through his three-year contract and that directors needed to secure his undertaking not to join a competing wine company for 12 months. The termination payment covers $2.95 million under the terms of his contract, including his statutory entitlements, and the "non-compete" arrangements valued at $1.43 million.Shares in the company plunged 19 per cent after executive chairman Brian Finn revealed net profit fell 97 per cent to $5.7 million in the six months to December 31, 2002. (Various Sources)

And Then There Was Cuffe

All of which pales into trivia beside funds manager Chris Cuffe's gob-smacking exit from the Commonwealth Bank. For an informed and irreverent blow-by-blow account, see Crikey's coverage at:

Telstra Keeps Hacking Into Staff

Over at Telstra, chief executive Ziggy Switkowski continues to slash staff in a bid to raise T2 share prices. Announcing a net six month profit of $1.184 billion, Ziggy vowed to continue cutting staff - despite cutting 2,000 jobs in the first half of the year. He seems to be proud the headcount at Telstra has been falling in recent years between eight and 10 per cent each year. Strange behaviour from a company that is still 50 per cent publicly owned. For the record, Telstra reported a 43.6 per cent fall in first half net profit, after a hefty write down of its Asian cable infrastructure joint venture hurt earnings. (Source: SMH)

Profits No Guarantee at BHP

Generating profits for BHP doesn't appear to be any guarantee of job security for Port Kembla steel workers. BHP Steel's Lance Hockridge has greeted news of a six monthly profit of $242 million with a warning that staff numbers would continue top be reviewed to ensure business growth. Hockridge says the company achieved the results through hard working employees, increased production and lowering costs. But he's not ruled out job cuts, even if the company exceeds its annual profit. "I don't think we're in the business of making hypothetical judgments about what future levels of profit will be, nor what future levels of employment and staffing will be," he said. (Source: ABC)

Tories Fire Up Auto Industry

Howard Minister Ian Macfarlane has begun beating the war drum in the automotive industry, telling suppliers to stand firm in the face of pressure from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. Macfarlane was out this week touting the $1 million contingency fund raised last year to help small companies fight illegal bargaining tactics with action in the courts. Macfarlane told a meeting of industry leaders that the AMWU was party to almost 440 enterprise bargains that expire on March 31, 417 of them in Victoria. "If past behaviour is any guide, they will attempt to squeeze, stretch and scare you," he said. (Source: SMH)

Timor Resents Australian Tactics

East Timor has warned that hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues vital for the country's development could be lost because of the Australian Government's refusal to ratify a treaty on joint development of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has accused the Howard Government of stalling ratification of the $5 billion Bayu-Undan project in an attempt to force the Timorese to accept a smaller share of royalties for the neighbouring Sunrise fields, estimated to hold reserves at least twice as large. "The Australians are trying to force us to give up on our claims on Sunrise. Their tactics are very clear," Dr Alkatiri told bthe SMH. "Australia knows that these revenues are vital for us. I am very surprised by their attitude. I never thought a democratic country like Australia would play this kind of role with a poor neighbour." A spokesman for Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane says that "priority' is being given to concluding the Sunrise negotiations, but said the treaty could still be ratified in the near future. (Source: SMH)


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