Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 100 Official Organ of LaborNet 29 June 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Baptism of Fire
It’s been a rugged few weeks for Labor Council’s new honcho. But John Robertson accepts it comes with the territory.
*  Politics: Seven Days that Shook Our World
Chris Christolodulou surveys the wreckage from a week when the political and industrial wings of the labour movement collided.
*  History: History Sometimes Repeat
This is not the first Labor government to attack workers compensation entitlements. Some believe the Unsworth Government’s 1987 reforms were the beginning of the end for that administration.
*  Technology: Unions Online: Where To Now?
Social Change Online's Mark McGrath goes looking for what's on the virtual horizon for the union movement.
*  Media: The Printed Word Revisited
Rowan Cahill looks at the resurgence of the workers press and the lessons for unions in better communicating with their members.
*  Unions: Time For Second Gear
The trends are in the right direction but unions are still drinking small beer in the IT world and need to allocate more resources to communications generally, argues Noel Hester.
*  Satire: Texan Governor Faces Execution
The governor of Texas has been sentenced to death row after a jury found him guilty of killing hundreds of people.
*  Review: The Insider
Neale Towart looks at a literary anti-hero who brings the factional machinations and double-deals of the ALP machine out of the back rooms and into the light.

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Robbo Addresses the State
HT Lee

Picket MPs Face More WorkCover Heat
State Labor MPs who crossed the Parliament House picket will be visited by delegations of rank and file workers and asked to publicly state their position on workers compensation.
[ Full Story » ]

Della Tries a Henry VIII
NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca’s will have more power over workers compensation than any minister before him.
[ Full Story » ]

Privatisation Opens New WorkCover Front
Unions have renewed pressure on NSW Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca to repeal a law that gives him the power to privatise the WorkCover scheme at will.
[ Full Story » ]

The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Virtual Democracy
The tense stand-off to enter Parliament was also played out in cyberspace, after an email campaign jammed the Macquarie Street server.
[ Full Story » ]

Bank Staff Forced to Flog Insurance
An entire branch of the ANZ has been threatened with dismissal for not meeting sales targets by pushing insurance products onto suburban bank customers.
[ Full Story » ]

Email Surveillance Report Gathers Dust
An important report into workers rights to email privacy has still not been released – more than two months after its findings were released to the media.
[ Full Story » ]

Fifty Years On, Women Still Short-Changed
Australian women earn $166 a week less than men, despite 50 years of action for equal pay, and the situation is getting worse.
[ Full Story » ]

Firefighters Withdraw Strike Threat
NSW Firefighters have withdrawn a 24-hour general strike threat after the Carr Government backed away from moves to remove payroll deduction rights for members.
[ Full Story » ]

Telstra’s Sells Off Skills Base
Plans to lay off more than 400 experienced Telstra workers would strip the company of more than $28 million in human capital.
[ Full Story » ]

BHP - Billiton Faces $1.8 Billion OHS Claim
A massive class action may be brought against the South African gold mining industry, including Billiton predecessor company Gencor Ltd., over compensation for lung disease in former mineworker employees.
[ Full Story » ]

Activist Notebook
The launch of an exhibition of photos from East Timor and a course for Women in the Workplace are on this week's Activist's agenda.
[ Full Story » ]

STOP PRESS: Quite Frankly, Reith Goes!
The bane of the trade union movement, former Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith has announced he will retire from Parliament at the next election, rather than face a challenge by a rank and file MUA member.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Picket at Parliament: Police Respond

  • Time to Break

  • Well Done for the Ton

  • The Life and Soul of the Party

  • A Tuckpointer Is ...

  • Editorial

    No Chance To Party

    This was meant to have been a week of celebration. But in the tradition of the trade union movement, it's probably appropriate we bring you the 100th of Workers Online from the midst of a struggle.

    The current fight over workers compensation entitlements in NSW has forced many in both the industrial and political wings of the labour movement to search their souls and ask themselves what it is they stand for.

    In the heat of the battle, there's been some interesting charges being leveled against the Labor Council - that we almost led to the fall of the Carr Government, even that we have put Kim Beazley's election chances at risk.

    It's as if the union movement is the aggressor in this dispute - that for some unknown reason it has taken it upon itself to attack the ALP.

    This, of course, misses the fundamental point that it is Carr and Della Bosca who are doggedly pushing ahead with laws that reduce worker rights oblivious to trade union opposition.

    It is Carr and Della Bosca who risk losing the Labor heartland by trampling over their rights and treating their elected trade union representatives with contempt.

    The question is not: how far will the unions push Labor on the issue? It should be: how far are Carr and Della Bosca prepared to push the unions?

    These master political strategists have positioned the union movement so they must choose between the health of the ALP and the interests of their membership.

    And in the lead-up to a federal ballot, some media commentators are now setting the scene for the union movement to be asked to roll over for the sake of a Beazley Labor Government.

    Too often in the past, trade unions have been seen by their members to choose the health of the ALP of their interests - on the grounds that a Labor Government is better than the alternative.

    In doing so, unions have lost the trust of many of its members - or more pertinently, former members. In an era where trade unions need to stand together with their rank and file to survive, the leadership can not walk away from their members this time around.

    So if the folk in Canberra are beginning to get nervous about the federal consequences of a dispute that is not going to go away, they should start calling Carr and Della Bosca and telling them to back off their radical agenda.

    In the meantime, may the struggle continue! Enjoy the 100th issue - apart from the all the latest unfiltered WorkCover news we have some spot-on features from some of our best contributors - Hester, Casey, McGrath and Cahill.

    Thanks to them and everyone else who has contributed to our first 100 issues.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    God and the Unions Pumping Iron on Sussex Street Paul Howes’ Week on the Web Blatant Self-Promotion



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