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August 2004   

Interview: Trading Places
New ACTU International Officer Alison Tate cut her teeth delivering aid to developing nations through APHEDA. Now she is helping chart the global union agenda.

Safety: Snow Job
James Hardie has been drilled into our collective consciousness as a story of power, greed and immorality. It is also, as Jim Marr reports, a tale of human tragedy.

Politics: In the Vanguard
Damien Cahill reveals how neo-liberal think tanks have been at the forefront of the corporate assault upon trade unions and social movements in Australia.

Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Donít get between Sydney sparkie Semir Pepic and a gold medal in a dimly lit alley, writes Tim Brunero.

Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
Perfect Porker, Darren Vincent, brings a history of meat worker shafting to this monthís Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europeís big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours Ė without any recompense, reports Andrew Casey.

History: Under the Influence
Was John Kerr drunk when he wrote and signed the letter dismissing Edward Gough Whitlam from the Prime Ministership in 1975? Geraldine Willissee investigates.

Economics: Working Capital
Where superannuation fits, where it fails and what we should we do about it. Neale Towart gives the tough answers.

Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
There's many a must see moment in Mike Moore's new flick but beating the propaganda machine at its own game wreaks havoc with wearied bullshit detectors, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
When Flood washed away the PM's sins, the truth was once again left high and dry.

Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
During a recent visit to an elderly relative in a nursing home, I was waylaid by an ancient gentleman who insisted I listen to what he had to say, writes Rowan Cahill.


The Westie Wing
The Labor Governments in each State must take the lead to stop the abuse of corporate law in Australia in the absence of action from the Federal Government, as the Inquiry into James Hardieís has highlighted, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Cleaners Deserve Our Support
It's time the state's cleaners were given some support, loyalty and long service leave, writes Chris Christodoulou.

The Locker Room
Half Time At The Football
Phil Doyle wants to have his pie and eat it too.

Faithful Servant
Frank Mossfield was one of the labour movementís quiet achievers. Former Labor Council secretary Michael Easson pays tribute.

Lessons From East Timor
Just back from a study tour to East Timor, National Reserach Officer with the Construction division of the CFMEU, Ben Stirling, writes about the experience for Workers Online.


Tarnished Rings
As our athletes approach the starting line in Athens, it is interesting to reflect on how the world has changed since Sydney was the centre of a global group hug just four years ago.


 Stink Rises from Hamberger

 ALP Embraces Collectivism

 Bully Drives Deckhand into Drink

 Fighter in Cancer Link

 Tunnellers Dig in for Safety

 Seconds Out in Newcastle

 Vale Josh Heuchan

 "Betrayal" Sparks Election Rethink

 Councils Wedge James Hardie

 Great Southern Death Rattler

 Libs Desert "War Criminal"

 Casuals Take Over

 ALP Star Hits The Waterfront

 Activists Whatís On!

 An Officer And A Teacher
 Tom Goes Asexual
 Road Rage At Work
 Democracy In Action
 Asbestos Bastadry
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Gentle Giant Goes For Gold

Donít get between Sydney sparkie Semir Pepic and a gold medal in a dimly lit alley, writes Tim Brunero.

The 125 kilo Judo Master has been training for 17 years for a chance at one and you never know - you might come off second best.

On his last day on the job before flying out for three months of training in Korea, Austria and Germany for the Athens Olympics Pepic said if he won gold for Australia he'd be shouting everyone on the Westfield Bondi Junction site a beer.

The gentle giant has to go overseas to train to find guys who are big enough to spar with him.

"In Australia I don't have any sparring partners," says Pepic "but in Japan there are 25 people as big as me"

Pepic competes in the 100+ kilo heavyweight class, the largest of the seven weight divisions.

"In Judo you have to get the person on their back and keep them there for 25 seconds. You can also put them in an arm lock or get then under the neck. My signature move is the Osoto-Gary," he says.

He won the Oceania Championships in April, beating a Fijian who weighs one hundred and forty five kilos and has been to the Olympics three times, "After four minutes I caught him and threw him. Then I grabbed him after he was on the ground and pinned him on his back for 25 seconds. I won by KO."

More prestigiously Pepic recently won the US Open the world's biggest competition - bar the Olympics - with fighters from 43 countries.

Though that's not to say winning the competition was wasn't without its hiccups for Pepic, "After my win in the US Open I had to have a urine test for drugs. I was so dehydrated I couldn't piss when the competition ended at 8pm. I sat there and drank four and a half litres of water over four hours and finally was able to piss at Midnight. The whole time four or five people from the drugs committee were sitting there with me!"

The Judo Master hasn't lost a match in Australia in one and a half years, and is two times Australian national heavyweight champ. He was unable to compete at Sydney 2000 in green and gold because of surgery on his knee.

The Olympic heavyweight competition has 32 competitors and is all over in a single day of bouts. The draw system is the same as Tennis, with everyone getting at least two fights, except there are 2 bronze medals awarded. If you lose a fight you are still in the running for a bronze.

The 31-year-old has a greuling training schedule, after work he has a shower, has a first dinner and goes to the gym at NSW University, "I train for two hours, usually a 50 minute warm up, then 30 minutes on technique and then one hour fighting. Then I go home for a second dinner.

"It's very hard to train and work, it's like I have two jobs. After work everyone else gets to relax, but I go straight to training and get back home at 10pm."

My wife Simona and my 6-year-old daughter Sarah are supportive always, I spend lots of time away, I was in America for 10 days recently, but they always wait and always support me."

Pepic says Judo's a spiritual sport, that stimulates the memory and the brain leaving you feel fully relaxed after a session.

"Judo is not just a sport it has all kinds of psychology and a long history in Japanese culture. It wasn't for competition originally but for relaxation," he said.

His fellow sparkies have encouraged him because they didn't know anything about Judo and now they are starting to get interested.

"they've all told him they'll be watching on the 20th of August when the heavyweights clash in Athens."

Pepic had an accident on site this year which saw him risk all his hard work.

"When I was getting my licence for the scissor lift they told me 'when you go down a ramp, you have to go backwards because of the way the wheels face' anyway two or three weeks later I went down one forwards and the whole thing went over, I fell three metres," he said.

Electrical Trades Union organiser Dan Weizman jokes that Pepic did more harm to the concrete that to himself.

"It's a funny story but not all stories have a funny ending. He risked a shot at Olympic gold, it's not worth some stupid risk just to get a job done a bit quicker," says Weizman.

After the Olympics Pepic wants to train for another four years, "us heavyweights can keep going until thirty five or even thirty seven."


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