Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 102 Official Organ of LaborNet 13 July 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Jolly Green Giant
Senator Bob Brown on the upcoming federal poll, balances of power and what the Greens can teach the trade union movement.
*  Workplace: Call Centre Takeover
Theresa Davison brings us this real-life story from the coal face of the call centre industry.
*  E-Change: 1.2 Community – The Ultimate Network
Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel look at the potential for network technologies to reconnect communities.
*  International: Child's Play
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA has recently entered a new alliance with the Child Labour Schools Company to support a project for child labourers in India.
*  History: Flowers to the Rebels Faded
With the departure of our own Wobbly, a look at the development of the Wobblies in Australia and their view of Labor politicians and the work ethic seems timely.
*  East Timor: A Dirty Little War
In this extract from his new book, John Martinkus recounts the scenes in Dili immediately following the independence ballot.
*  Satire: Telstra Share Failure Ends City-Bush Divide: Everybody Screwed Equally
Communications Minister Richard Alston today claimed that the government had fulfilled its promise to ensure that the bush was not disproportionately disadvantaged by Telstra's privatisation.
*  Review: Cheesy Management
Currently climbing Australian best-seller lists is the 'life-changing' motivational book 'Who Moved My Cheese?' Rowan Cahill has a nibble but doesn't like the taste.

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Wobbly Radio


Search for a Dude Begins
Unions NSW have launched a statewide search for a Dude look-alike to lead their push into the call centre industry in the wake of the One.Tel collapse.
[ Full Story » ]

Public Money Backs a Stellar Bully
The Carr Government had provided development money for a Wollongong call centre that is openly hostile to trade unions and demands its workers take out individual contracts.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers Get First Meal Break In Five Years
It has taken almost five years for some workers at Cable & Wireless Optus’ Video Operations Centre at North Ryde to get a meal break during their shifts.
[ Full Story » ]

Soft Penalty for Video Nasties
Unions have called for a review of video surveillance laws after an employer was fined just $500 after being found guilty of secretly filming female staff in a room where they changed into uniforms.
[ Full Story » ]

Negligent Employers Should Pay
The WorkCover Authority should impose special a premium levy on employers who consistently ignore workplace safety, unions have told a major inquiry.
[ Full Story » ]

Brit Cleaners Serve It Up to Aussie Boss
The cleaners at the big Wimbledon tennis event are going to their Aussie bosses and demanding wage parity with Australian cleaners’ who are employed by the same company doing the same type of work at big sports events such as the Olympics.
[ Full Story » ]

Rio Tinto Guilty of Hunter Valley Sackings
In a major victory for coal-miners, workers who were sacked from Hunter Valley No 1 Mine for their determination to remain trade unionists have been reinstated with full back-pay.
[ Full Story » ]

Rail Workers Strike for their Families' Security
More than 200 workers from the Maintrain workshop at Auburn have taken strike action over their employer's refusal to secure their entitlements in an Industry Trust Fund.
[ Full Story » ]

Nurses Seek Urgent Action on Pay
Nurses have officially asked NSW Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, to initiate an urgent case aimed at improving nurse wages to alleviate a crisis is staffing levels.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers Win Tip Top Delegate Rights
Pam Ray, a Newcastle union delegate at Tip Top, reckons having a union rights clause written into a new enterprise agreement is crucial to improving LHMU members' pay and conditions.
[ Full Story » ]

Telstra Halts Latest Privatisation Plans
Communications Union officials have hailed the announcement that Telstra will not be selling off its construction arm, NDC, as a victory for sanity.
[ Full Story » ]

Requiem for the Banks
Workers at Westpac's Cards and Telephone Centre at Epping have staged a mock funeral and wake to mourn the loss of 5,523 full time jobs cut from the bank since March 1999.
[ Full Story » ]

Surfers Remember Oil Slick Disaster
Surfers, seafarers and environmentalists will mark the tenth anniversary of the Kirki shipping disaster with an oily protest this weekend.
[ Full Story » ]

Widespread Mail Disruptions on Cards
New South Wales faces the prospect of widespread mail delivery disruptions in the coming weeks over the contracting out of work.
[ Full Story » ]

Minister for Caged Hair Gets Hot Welcome in West
Boos and jeers greeted Federal Aged Care Minister Bronwyn Bishop as she launched a Commonwealth Carelink Centre in Bunbury Western Australia this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Cleaner Wins Right to Attend Family Reunion
Cleaning contractor LIMRO has been ordered to allow their Canberra employee Slavica Noveska to go on leave so she can attend a family reunion in Macedonia.
[ Full Story » ]

Howard Cuts R&D Spending by 15 Per Cent
New figures revealing a further 3% collapse in business research and development since the Howard Government came to office threatened Australia’s long-term jobs growth, according to the ACTU.
[ Full Story » ]

Fears Grow Over Shangri-La Protests
The unionists involved in the 8 month industrial dispute at the five-star Shangri-La Jakarta hotel are becoming the targets of ultra-nationalist elements who say the workers are pawns manipulated by foreign interests who hostile to their country.
[ Full Story » ]

Mick Young Play Award
A new $8,000 scholarship for a young playwright is being offered in memory of one of Labor's true icons. mick Young.
[ Full Story » ]

Activist Notebook
A visit from a Galbraith, Chippo politiics with Bill Leak and an EMILY's LIst fundraiser are all on this week's agenda.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Strained Relations

  • Crocodile Tears

  • Wrong Bias?

  • Editorial

    Whose Party?

    Love 'em or loathe 'em, the ALP is the trade union party. This has been the accepted political wisdom for the past 100 years. But in the light of recent ructions it is worth unpacking this truism.

    Perhaps in Australia more than any other country, Labor is the political wing of the trade union movement, created by and for the interests of working people. That's the history.

    But increasingly the ALP is moving away from its roots - with politicians equating 'modernisation' with the project to distil trade union influence and position the party at a moderate centre.

    At the same time, the ALP still relies on the core block of union members as their voting and campaigning base at election time. The justification is increasingly - because we are not the Conservatives.

    This leads the ALP a little like a young adult wanting to leave home - often embarrassed by, yet ultimately reliant on the trade union movement.

    This position is largely a consequence of the two-party State. But are the times changing?

    In most European nations social democratic parties like the ALP now rely on Green and Left parties to hold power in coalition governments. In Germany, for instance, key Cabinet positions such as foreign affairs have been held by Green members.

    The voting systems in Europe are different, but the point is there are practical alternatives. Look at the Greens and you have a party that sometimes seems to be closer to the union line than the ALP.

    It begs the question - should unions play an active role in more than one political organization?

    Labor supporters will argue that its easy top run a purist line when you are not in power - and as Bob Brown concedes in this week's interview - never likely to be.

    And the bigger problem is that most of the Greens economic policies would actually work against the interests of trade union members. But even here there is a strange convergence occurring between the Greens and the fair Trade bloc of unions.

    Others push a more purist Left agenda - John Passant this week makes the case for the fledgling Socialist Alliance. Again, it is easy to dismiss these groups as fringe and irrelevant - but their positions do stand in stark contrast to the populist pragmatism of the ALP.

    And of course there is the spectre of One Nation, who despite attempts to reject them as crazed rednecks, run a policy suite with more than a passing similarity to protectionist Labor circa 1950.

    What is obvious is that the ALP should not take trade union support as a God-given right. There are alternatives out there with the potential to upset the comfortable certainty of the two-party State.

    Labor must realise that, like all good markets, the market for political ideas should not be run as a monopoly.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Why Bother With Labor? Aussie Battlers Alison Peters Exercises Prudence Let Them Eat Dirt



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