|Issue No 122||07 December 2001|
Unions Raise Labor Stakes
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) should reform its own internal structures and look at the quality of political candidates before making any moves to dilute trade union influence in the Party, the NSW union movement has warned.
Anger and dismay at the public attacks on union involvement in the ALP by a string of Federal frontbenchers boiled over at a firey final meeting of the NSW Labor Council for 2001.
New Opposition leader Simon Crean was put on notice that his handling of the union issue was a litmus test of his leadership and frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon was roundly condemned for an article published in Tuesday's Newcastle Herald.
Labor Council secretary John Robertson said that there was no evidence that the union influence had contributed to the federal election loss in any way.
On the contrary, union support in local campaigns, letter-boxing and fundraising had been instrumental in minimizing the loss of seats.
Robertson said any serious election post mortem would look at the ALP's own internal structures, including:
- compulsory campaign training for all branch officials
- fundraising benchmarks for all branches
- preselection rules to get decent candidates into Parliament
- limited tenure for MPs
- binding MPs to party policy.
"The reality is that the Party should be listening more to us not less to us," he said
Crean on Notice
Transport Workers Union (TWU) State Secretary Mr Tony Sheldon said Simon Crean's leadership days would be numbered if he did not bring his Caucus under control.
"There has not been a policy statement or a single criticism of the Federal government since the election, all we have heard is criticism of the people at the heart of the union movement," Mr Sheldon said.
The Maritime Union of Australia's (MUA) Mr Bob Coombs said the real issue for the Party was not union involvement but the control of the factions. He said the increasing cooperation across the union movement was obviously causing concerns to those in control.
Coombs successfully moved for a forum of affiliated union to meet to discuss the relationship with the Party early in the New Year.
Flak for Fitzgibbon
But the greatest anger was directed at Shadow Resources Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, who was attacked by Australian Workers Union (AWU) Secretary Mr Russ Collision for criticising the requirement that Labor Party members be union members.
Fitzgibbon used the example of his wife, a beautician, who he said would be forced to pay hundreds of dollars to join a union which could of no assistance to her.
Coillison pointed out that the AWU covered beauticians and had taken a leading role in campaigning on safety - particularly skin injuries from exposure to chemicals.
Describing the comments as "somewhat na´ve" - he warned that "if they don't like our Party they should go and form their own".
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Unions: My Way or the Highway
Since 1997, workers employed by Serco/Great Southern Railways, have been locked in a struggle with their employer to have their choice of industrial instrument recognised.
Legal: Three Degrees of Contract
Marian Baird argues there is a need to more fully understand what workers, employers and our society expect from the employment relationship.
International: Bogota Terror
The assassination of a Colombian unionist has prompted international outrage.
History: Freedom or 'Federation'?
Mark Hearn and Greg Patmore argue that the journey to federation was not a one-way street.
Health: Wearing the Right Genes to Work?
Matt Brooks tracks the DNA trail to discover genetic testing in the workplace is already here.
Satire: Demidenko Releases New Book About Her Life As Afghan Refugee
Controversial author Helen Demidenko has written a brand new novel based on her gripping true life experiences as an Afghan refugee.
Review: Can Blinky Bill Save Unions?
Neale Towart browses the kiddies' shelves to find an Australian icon with a union-friendly message.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005