Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 121 Official Organ of LaborNet 30 November 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Back to the Battle
Federal Labor's new industrial relations spokesman Robert McClelland outlines the challenges for the next three years.
*  Politics: The Baby and the Bath Water
ACTU secretary Greg Combet gives his take on the debate over the ALP's relations with the union movement.
*  Unions: We're Solid
Bradon Ellem charts the history of the Pilbara dispute, and finds a revitalised grass-roots unionism challenging BHP's individual contracts bulldozer
*  Organising: Benidgo Pioneer Comes Up Trumps
ACTU Delegate of the Year, Leonie Saunders, is living proof of the way unions are adapting to life under the strictures of a hostile Government.
*  Technology: India: Cricket, Computers and Corruption
Russell Lansbury cuts through the hype to look out the so-called hi-tech revolution on the sub-continent.
*  International: Soul Searching
The party of labour in Canada – the NDP - is right now undergoing a massive struggle for its heart and soul.
*  History: A Timeless Debate
The ALP and unions - it's a debate that's raged for years as this extract from a 1947 Lloyd Ross pamplet shows.
*  Review: In Fear of Security
Launching his new book, Anthony Burke argues that the cry of "security" is the last refuge of the political scoundrel

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Union Journo on Death List
Trade union journalist and regular Workers Online contributor Paddy Gorman has been told by ASIO that his name has been found on a loyalist paramilitary death list in Northern Ireland.
[ Full Story » ]

First 'Lab Rats' in Bank Hold-Up
Bank workers involved in a hold-up in central Sydney this week may have become the first victims of the changes to workers compensation laws – even before the laws were through Parliament.
[ Full Story » ]

Monk's Mad Power Grab from States
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott's plans to wipe out unfair dismissal rights for a large section of the workforce include an audacious attempt to over-ride state industrial laws.
[ Full Story » ]

Big Print Merger Threatens Jobs
The proposed merger of two of Australia's largest printing groups could spell disaster of the NSW town of Dubbo – with its second largest employer facing closure.
[ Full Story » ]

Anger as Labor Staffers Shun Unions
The public sector union is threatening to 'out' Labor staffers and MPs working in Macquarie Street who refuse to join a trade union.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions Are Well Advanced In Change Unions Tell ALP
When Simon Crean returned to his old stomping ground for this week’s ACTU Executive there was some robust discussion with union leaders but there was also a lot of warmth and respect.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions Step Up Organising Drive
Australia's unions have stepped up their organising drive with a new $1 million training program for delegates and workplace activists.
[ Full Story » ]

Education, Call Centre Unions Sweep Awards
Over three hundred unionists turned out to celebrate and reward achievements made in a tumultuous year at the Inaugural ACTU Annual Awards.
[ Full Story » ]

Bank AGMs Focus of Worker Anger
Finance sector workers are gearing up for unprecedented industrial activity in the lead-up to the Annual General Meetings of three of the major banks.
[ Full Story » ]

Gender Balance in Transport Concessions
Women trainees should have the same right to transport concessions as those granted to trade apprentices in male-dominated industries, according to the Australian Services Union.
[ Full Story » ]

Concern As Sydney Collapses
The pre Christmas rush to finish construction work is endangering public and workers safety according to the CFMEU.
[ Full Story » ]

Bakers Seek More Bread
The LHMU Baking Industry Union has served a 21-point log of claims on Australia's biggest bread company - Goodman Fielder - on behalf of union members.
[ Full Story » ]

CFMEU Forces Re-Think On Asbestos
The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has decided to support the construction industry's practice of "zero tolerance" for asbestos on building sites.
[ Full Story » ]

Call Goes Out for Union Summer
Applications have opened for the Union Summer trade union internships to run in early 2002.
[ Full Story » ]

Twelve Weeks Parental Leave For Kiwis
The New Zealand Government will introduce 12 weeks paid parental leave for parents following a birth or adoption. The scheme will start in the middle of next year.
[ Full Story » ]

Organiser of the Year Nominations Open
Union organisers and activists have a month to bid for an overseas trip and the chance to work for an overseas trade union organisation as the winner of the third annual Organiser of the Year award.
[ Full Story » ]

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

Letters to the Editor
  • What's Wrong With Labor

  • Why I'm Quitting the ALP

  • Compo Flak

  • Union Democracy

  • Multi-Skilling Corrigan Style

  • Editorial

    Ritual Flagellation

    When it comes to workers compensation, it has become a well-worn ritual to blame the NSW Labor Council for selling out on the interests of workers to save a Labor Government.

    It is a charge being leveled against the current Labor Council leadership following the passage of workers compensation laws through State Parliament this week. One only has to peruse this week's letters to get a feeling for the depth of some people's sense of betrayal.

    But do the claims stack up? Unlike previous occasions, the union movement has not given its endorsement to the final package, despite a series of hard-won concessions that have removed some of the worst excesses of the Della Bosca proposals.

    In fact, it remains in dispute with the Carr Labor Government over the issue and will continue to campaign on the issue as examples of the new laws' impact come to light.

    Anyone who has been involved in the negotiations would have no doubt about the depth of anger amongst the union leadership at what they see as a fundamental abrogation of the deal between the political and industrial wings.

    When faced with a cost blowout in the scheme - this Labor Government opted to attack workers benefits rather than share the pain with employers. On a fundamental issue, it deserted its base.

    It did so in breach of the ALP policy and platform, making a mockery of claims that the Party is hamstrung by the 60-40 rule. Indeed, if the leadership actually followed the platform the damaging rift over workers comp would never have occurred.

    The Carr Labor Government now has 12 months to reconnect with its union base or risk running an election with limited grassroots support.

    The upcoming five-year review of the NSW Industrial Relations Act is one forum for showing it can take on board legitimate union concerns. Progressing unresolved issues on labor hire, job security and workplace surveillance would help too.

    And the way it reacts to the cases of injustice that will arise as the impact of the workers compensation changes begin to filter through will be fundamental to the union movement.

    Everyone in the union movement is disappointed and disillusioned at the outcome of the workers compensation 'reform' process, but they know they pushed the government every inch of the way.

    With targeted industrial action, direct lobbying of Labor MPs, mass meetings, culminating in the picket on Parliament, unions ensured that this package will never carry their stamp of approval.

    To all those who gave their support to the campaign for their workers compensation entitlements, the battle was not in vain. It is a part of a broader battle that goes to the very heart of unionism and the nature of Labor governments.

    And that is a battle for ideas that is far from over.

    Peter Lewis


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