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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
Don’t 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 month’s Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europe’s big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours – 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 Hardie’s 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 movement’s 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 What’s On!

 An Officer And A Teacher
 Tom Goes Asexual
 Road Rage At Work
 Democracy In Action
 Asbestos Bastadry
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Cruising For A Bruising

Europe’s big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours – without any recompense, reports Andrew Casey.

In Germany and France in the space of two weeks about half a dozen high profile workplaces have collapsed to the demand for a longer working week - in the face of threats to shift jobs to Eastern Europe.

Flexibility has become the catch-cry of European politicians from the Left and the Right.

Only the Brits seem to be going the other way - with an election in the offing Blair gave in last weekend at a party policy conference to union demands to introduce tough new workplace laws providing workers with more protections.

He has even ticked off an agreement with the unions to implement a long promised law which would bring to an end the creation of a two-tier pay system in the civil service as work is contracted out to the private sector.

The German Social Democrats are trying to assuage their union base by announcing they are introducing new laws to control CEO pay, and that they will not give in to Employer and Opposition demands to introduce US-style hire and fire laws.

But it is the big German companies who are leading the charge to force their workers to into longer workweeks - on the altar of productivity.

Big brand-names like Daimler, Siemens, Bosch are threatening to shutdown plants and shift them down the road to the Czech Republic, Slovakia or some other East European country.

Even the powerful IG Metall, led by the recently elected Jurgen Peters, who came in with the reputation of being a tough street smart, has had to accept the bosses demands - though Peters has sworn to take revenge when the opportunity comes.

His angry members rallied outside Daimler with posters declaring: "It's War."

The right-wing French Government has come behind the French bosses and is now maneuvering to abolish the laws guaranteeing a 35-hour week.

The Government's junior Budget Minister, Dominique Bussereau, slammed Siemens in Germany for using "blackmail" to force their workers to accept longer hours.

He vowed French officials would never accept such blackmail.

He told local media that it was unacceptable for management to use threats to force the workforce to accept longer hours.

Siemens had said if the workers and their unions did not comply then the company would switch operations to a site in Easter Europe where labour costs were lower.

But hours later French car components workers, employed by the German-owned Bosch, also voted up an agreement to work longer hours to save their jobs.

The French unions went further than calling this "blackmail" they accused the company of "terrorism".

These unions are arguing that there is a bosses conspiracy to break the one of the Left's proudest achievements the 35-hour work laws.

The unions claim to have information that several companies have secretly drawn up plans to follow the Bosch example.

The French pollies, despite the Budget Minister's comments, meekly accepted this blackmail.

The top French politicians, tut-tut ting about the Bosch deal, have all started hinting they are prepared to abolish the laws which control working hours.

This week President Chirac, PM Raffarin and Economic Minister Sarkozy have all been quoted in the media talking about the need to create new jobs, the need for flexibility and the forces of globalisation, which demand an end to the 35-hour week law.

The French conservatives have always hated the previous Socialist government's 35-hour week law - it has been an icon of all they hate in the Left.

Now the employers of Europe have finally given them the excuse to wipe out the law.


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