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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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Postcard from Vietnam

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


Bac Kan is a mountainous province in Northern Vietnam. It is classified as an underdeveloped province, and among its 122 communes are 103 identified as the most difficult mountainous communes in Vietnam.

The people of Bac Kan have low incomes and mainly rely on agricultural and forestry production. The level of education remains low and untrained workers account for 90% of the labor force. The rate of malnutrition among children is as high as 37% and 50% of the women face gynecological problems.

In 1999, with support from Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, the provincial Women's Union began to develop this project, aiming to increase income and to improve living conditions for poor women by training to improve their knowledge and by providing loans. After participating in skills training as part of this project, graduates are given access to microcredit - the capital to buy the equipment they need to generate income using their new skills. The program has been very successful with participants repaying loans and seeing an increase in family income, standard of living and health indicators.

In order to monitor the effectiveness of our programs Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA contacts graduates a year or two after they complete their training to see how they are utilising their new skills. Ms Hoang Thi le hang our program coordinator in Vietnam recounts a visit to a young couple who had both graduated from the agro-forestry course:

"The narrow path leads me to a house on stilts with new bamboo rattan roof. It is in the traditional style of the Tay ethnic minority people. I am welcomed by a young man, the head of the family.

His name is Ha Huu Hoat (22 years old). This is Hoa Muc Commune, Cho Moi District, Bac Kan Province, near the northern border with China. Hoat attended a three-month agro-forestry vocational training course supported by Union Aid Abroad in October 2002. He is very happy to tell me the results of the agricultural products that he and his wife have produced since, by applying the new techniques and knowledge they learned from the training. He proudly tells me of the abundant potato harvest he produced from knowing how to store the potatoes in good condition. Moreover, he was proud to show his neighbours in the village what he had learned and share lessons and experiences with them.

During my visit his wife came back from their field with a basket of vegetables and grapefruit. She is glad to show off the fruit trees that they had just grafted. Both of them begin a verbal competition about whose trees are better.

I was surprised to hear that she had previously lived in a neighbouring commune, 16km away from here. She came to this commune to attend the agro-forestry training. That is a big deal, where poverty here means there is no spare cash for things like non-essential travel. The average income in Bac Kan province is $200 PER YEAR, a mere 10% of the national average. The couple met each other and fell in love and got married after the course.

They are a young couple with a clear plan for their life. They told me they want to focus on pig raising, fruit tree planting and potato growing. They intend to have baby after they earn a bit of money to ensure a better life for their children and themselves."

Ms Hoang Thi Le Hang is Program Coordinator,

Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA, Vietnam


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