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July 2004   

Interview: Power and the Passion
ALP's star recruit Peter Garrett shares his views on unions, forests and being the Member for Wedding Cake Island

Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Tony Butterfield became a State of Origin gladiator at the unlikely age of 33. Even that, Jim Marr reports, couldn�t prepare him for the knock-down, drag-em-out world of modern IR.

Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Proposals to flog off NSW�s forests have raised eyebrows and temperatures amongst some of the key players reports Phil Doyle.

Housing: Home Truths
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton argues for a radical solution to the housing affordability crisis.

International: Boycott Busters
International unions have issued a new list of corporations breaching ILO sanctions to do business in Burma.

Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
The absurdities of neoclassical economic assumptions has never stood in the way of their being trotted out to justify profiteering and attacks on the rights of citizens. The AUSFTA is the latest rort we are supposed to swallow, writes Neale Towart.

History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Interest in JC Watson's short time as Labor's first Prime Minister should not detract from his more substantial role as Party leader, writes Mark Hearn

Review: Chewing the Fat
As debate rages in Australia about Fast Food advertising, Julianne Taverner takes a look at a side of the industry that Ronald McDonald won�t tell you about in Supersize Me.

Poetry: Dear John
Workers Online reader Rob Mullen shares some personal correspondence with our glorious leader.


The Westie Wing
As the NSW Labor Government sells its first budget deficit in nine years, the real concern for the union movement is the devil in the detail, especially when it comes to procurement agreements, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Rubber Bullets
Labor's IR spokesman Craig Emerson launches a few characteristic salvos across the Parliamentary chamber

The Locker Room
Tears After Bedtime
Phil Doyle says that it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Postcard from Vietnam
APHEDA's Hoang Thi Le Hang reports from the north of Vietnam on a project being fund by Australian unionists.,


A Place To Call Home
These days the Great Australian Dream is closer to a fantasy, where the chances of owning to your own home depend on either inheriting property or winning lottery.


 NRMA Reverses Over Turnbull

 Privatisation Kills

 Crikey: Irwin Feeds Staff AWAs

 Nurses Telegraph Fight Back

 "Sexiest Man" Plays it Safe

 Eureka: Bug Swats Hadgkiss

 Macdonald Ponders Asbestos Blue

 Latham Gets Late Mail

 Murdoch Faces Discrimination Rap

 Boss Goes Postal

 Oberon Survives Bomb Threat

 Howard Out On CD

 Telstra Hangs Up On Staff

 Activists What�s On!

 Letter From America
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The Westie Wing

As the NSW Labor Government sells its first budget deficit in nine years, the real concern for the union movement is the devil in the detail, especially when it comes to procurement agreements, writes Ian West.

"Our frank, open realistic, ungrudging acknowledgment of the role of the unions, as genuine partners in building the strength, security and fairness of our society in NSW and Australia will continue to be the hallmark of the Carr Labor Government in our third term."

I've quoted Premier Bob Carr's pledge to the 2003 Annual General Meeting of the Labor Council before. I quote these words again because they never cease to be relevant.

Many believed that the third term Carr Labor Government would focus on repairing the damage done to the relationship with the industrial wing of the Labor party in the second term. This belief is quickly fading.

The last month has seen the Treasurer, Michael Egan, deliver his first budget deficit in nine years, which spares most departments other than health and education from significant funding increases. Much of the budget was about taking the knife to the public sector. The difficult part of such operations is to keep the patient alive after surgery.

If we're trying to streamline the way the government is run, we have to be careful that the cure is not worse than the disease. Otherwise we cannot claim to be a labour government.

In a hidden corner of the Department of Commerce website, which now covers the "Office" of Industrial Relations, is a link to the "Memorandum of Understanding with the Labor Council of New South Wales".

This is an important document in the relationship between the political and industrial wings of the party. Understandably, the union movement currently views the agreement as fool's gold, because it is too easily ignored. This has been repeatedly highlighted by Workers Online.

My responsibility as a Labor member of parliament along with all my Labor colleagues is to make this partnership with the union movement a reality and not just verbal diarrhoea.

The opportunities are there to realise our Labor principles to the satisfaction of both wings of the party. At the moment we have plenty of preaching but not much practice.

With this in mind, Government members need to represent the ones we say we identify with as a Labor Party.

The women and men who clean our schools, TAFEs, police stations and electorate offices are a perfect example. The majority are women from non English-speaking backgrounds.

Many of these 6,000-odd workers used to be employed directly by the government in the Government Cleaning Service, which was sold by Greiner in 1994. Now they are employed by companies that have won commercial tenders with the government. Too often are these contracts awarded in a 'race to the bottom' in relation to costs.

The five-year contract for government cleaning is due to be renewed within the next year. It is imperative that the Labor Government negotiates the new contract in line with the spirit and intent of the Memorandum of Understanding and the best interests of the cleaners as the benchmark and not the Almighty Dollar.

The onus is now on Labor members of parliament and members of the ALP Administrative Committee to turn this situation around. It is essential to re-affirm the fact that the ALP is a political party with labour values and not just a registered trademark for sale to the highest bidder.

Some links that provide more information on the above are the Department of Commerce website and the The Cleaners' Union.

And for my spin on What's On in NSW Parliament, go to Ian West's Online Office.

I am interested to hear feedback and ideas--you can contact Antony Dale or myself at Parliament House on (02) 9230 2052 or email me at [email protected].


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