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  Issue No 109 Official Organ of LaborNet 31 August 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
*  International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
*  E-Change: Training for a Wired Workforce
Education is the entry point into the new economy; but the system still reflects an industrial age view of the world.
*  Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
*  Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU�s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
*  History: Struggle and Inspiration
Rowan Cahill argues that it is only through understanding history that we can make sense of the present plight of workers.
*  Technology: A World Without Microsoft
Heather Sharp argues that all technologies involve political choices and moral values. Computer software is no exception, and it is Bill Gates' choices that dominate.
*  Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia�s Oldest Rock Fans review the week�s music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
*  Satire: Tampa refugees ask to go home: "It's less inhumane than Australia"
The 460 asylum seekers on board the Tampa freight vessel have demanded to be taken back to their oppressive homelands, which they now realise aren�t nearly as hostile as Australia.

Union Power - ETU's Bernie Riordan

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The Meaning of Working Life � The Answer is 7.1!
The Labor Council of NSW has developed a new benchmark top chart the quality of working life in Australia. And it's initial finding? Our level of happiness is 7.1.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions Stand Up for National Soul
NSW unions have called on the Howard Government to treat the plight of refugees on the Tampa as a humanitarian crisis rather than a political opportunity.
[ Full Story » ]

MUA Salvages Some Pride
The Maritime Union of Australia has gone a small way, in the eyes of Norwegians, towards saving our nation�s reputation as a decent society by holding meetings of members to protest the Howard Government�s actions on the Tampa crisis.
[ Full Story » ]

Common Law Report Plea � Make It Public
Unions have officially asked the chair of the inquiry into WorkCover common law rights to recommend his findings are immediately made available to the public to prevent another legislative ambush.
[ Full Story » ]

Maintenance Contract 'Could Put Lives at Risk'
Unions fighting Carr Government plans to contract out maintenance work in hospitals have warned that lives could be put at risk as the campaign in support of secure jobs escalates.
[ Full Story » ]

Tax Office's GST Scam - 10 Per Cent Off!
As it struggles to implement the GST, the Australian Taxation Office has taken the bizarre step of cutting its staff by ten per cent.
[ Full Story » ]

Della Moves on Pay Slip Concerns
In a win for workers, the Carr Government has tightened requirements on the information employers must place on their pay-slips.
[ Full Story » ]

Authorities Scotch Bra-Burning
Police intervention prevented the ceremonial burning of bras, but a public protest this week still succeeded in raising awareness of Triumph's trade with Burma.
[ Full Story » ]

Manusafe Decision Faces Appeal
Backers of the workers entitlements trust fund, Manusafe, are considering appealing a decision this week that would limit the ability of workers to take industrial action in support of the fund.
[ Full Story » ]

Orange Finally Saved from Closure
Workers from the central-west town of Orange can finally sleep sound, after management of Swedish giant Electrolux guaranteed the long-term future of the area's largest employer.
[ Full Story » ]

Award Win For Telco Workers
Decent pay and better employment conditions moved one step closer for tens of thousands of Australian telecommunications workers, with a successful union bid to establish an industry award.
[ Full Story » ]

Abbott Clears Way for Lower Wages
More than three million employees of small businesses would lose their legal protections against lower wages, unfair sackings and sub-standard conditions under legislation introduced in Federal Parliament this week.
[ Full Story » ]

SDA Defeats 'Obscene' Westfield Parking Fees
The SDA has secured a significant victory in its ongoing campaign to defeat Westfield�s bid to charge retail workers for parking at their workplace.
[ Full Story » ]

Labor Calls On Abbott To Abide By Convention
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott is under pressure to abide by convention and not make multiple appointments to the Australian Industrial Relations Commissions only weeks from the beginning of a federal election campaign.
[ Full Story » ]

Nurses Highlight Staff Shortages
NSW Nurses have upped their campaign for wage justice this week by highlighting the impact of staff shortages in city hospitals.
[ Full Story » ]

Keystone Cops At Wonderland Protest
A group of cleaners at Sydney's largest theme park were threatened with arrest by their employer last Sunday during an LHMU pay protest.
[ Full Story » ]

Call for Change in Award Increases
State Wage Cases should automatically flow through to all workers on award rates of pay, rather than requiring separate hearings, unions will argue.
[ Full Story » ]

Green Tin Box Values Gone At Commonwealth
A cleaner who has been working for more than eight years at the Commonwealth Bank�s original Sydney head office may not have a job next week because the bank has decided to change cleaning contractors.
[ Full Story » ]

Dance for Independence
If you want to support the West Saharawi's struggle for independence, the best thing to do is get your dancing shoes and get down to the Harbourside Brasserie.
[ Full Story » ]

Get Ready to Wobble
Labor Council's werb radio staion Woblly Radio will be officially launched on September 22, with Stellar One Eleven headlining a gig at Newtown RSL.
[ Full Story » ]

Activist Notebook
All the latest details on actions, workshops and conferences for anyone interested in labour politics.
[ Full Story » ]

STOP PRESS: ITF says PM Tampa action illegal
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has warned the Australian Government that its actions in turning away the vessel Tampa are illegal under international treaties to which the country is a signatory.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Unite Against Racism

  • WorkCover Impact

  • Improving the Debate

  • Botsman's Satire

  • MUA - Take a Bow!

  • Economic Predators

  • Email and the Waterfront Dispuite

  • Editorial

    Good Will Hunting

    Is it just me, or is there something sick about celebrating the Goodwill Games at the same time as we indulge in an international exercise of fear and loathing?

    Sure, the Turner Olympics are a pale imitation of the real thing, but it does serve as a reminder. Almost one year after we indulged in the largest group hug in world in history, we are turning in on ourselves in a most unattractive manner.

    As public support for the Howard Government's opportunistic and illegal attempts to turn Australia into a gated community finally begin to wane, it's worth spending a few moments pondering how things have changed in just 12 months.

    No-one is suggesting that Australia should open its borders indiscriminately, but the federal government's handling of the Tampa crisis has needlessly inflated what was a humanitarian issue into one of national security.

    At every turn, the Howard Government has manipulated the plight of the Afghan refugees to escalate the crisis, rather than resolve it.

    For instance, apart form trading insults with the Norwegians, what attempts have there been to resolve the situation diplomatically? By Thursday it had emerged that Howard had not even picked up the phone to Megawati.

    Instead, he's been playing to the local gallery, Wagging the Dog to get the GST scam off the front page to channel the abundant anti-Arab oxygen to play his latest variation of Wedge Politics.

    With Labor finally finding the fortitude to stand up to these excesses, Howard could well reap the electoral dividends. But if this is the price to win power, let him have it!

    It's all too depressingly predictable. I was out of the country during the Olympics, and found it hard to believe the level of goodwill that seemed to be generated during that time.

    Under the gaze of the world, Australians rose above themselves, portraying their best side as open, inclusive and optimistic. Cathy Freeman's triumph and the Closing Ceremony combined to repudiate Howard's divided nation and grasp the possibility of reconciling our past with our future.

    Now we are the center of the world's gaze again and it doesn't feel so good. The humanity of 12 months ago seems like it could just have been the product of a Gold medal fever that intoxicated a people whose soul remains buried under layers of fear about our precarious place in the world.

    Beneath the jingoism and cheesy self-congratulation whever one of our own crack the world stage, we are a deeply insecure people. After all, our indigenous cousins excluded, we are all refugees.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Ben Heraghty on Disenfranchising Youth Working Class Heroes Neale Towart's Labour Review Le Pen�s Clone



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