||Issue No. 124||15 February 2002|
Chickens Come Home
Unions: Winning the Heartland
Interview: Swan's Song
Corporate: Lessons from Enron
Politics: What We Did Last Summer
History: Solidarity in Song
International: A Tale of Two Cities
Poetry: Nobody Told Me
Review: Labor and the Rings
Satire: Rafter Named Bermudan Of The Year For Tax Purposes
The Locker Room
Week in Review
'International Labour's Year in Review' - A Re-View
Collins Gets Cryptic
Week in Review
Cloak and Dagger
South Australian voters sent mixed messages through an indecisive state poll. Labor picked up ground on the ruling Liberals, in terms of votes, but looked to have fallen a couple of seats shy of being able to form a Government in its own right. Nataha Stott-Despoja's Democrats were the big losers as their vote imploded. Labor leader Mike Rann didn't rule out the possibility of a hung parliament and warned that time-consuming recounts were highly likely in closely-contested seats. By the end of the week, however, independent Peter Lewis (no relation) had emerged as king-maker and indicated he would help Labor to control of every state and territory for the first time in history.
Up North, the AMWU pulled the chain on Mount Isa Mines for its policy of operating cameras in the toilets of its drug testing facility. The AMWU objected to contracted drugs tester, Western Diagnostics, installing permanent cameras in positions where they could record close-up film of male and female workers urinating. The AMWU called the set-up "drugs testing gone mad" and demanded removal of the offending equipment. http://www.labor.net.au/news/1714.html
Musicians struck a promising chord with prominent Sydney Morning Herald coverage for their latest union recruitment campaign. Newly-elected NSW secretary, Richard Roule, told the paper less-established musicians had little bargaining power against recording companies, hotels and other entertainment industry heavyweights. Roule, a drummer with 80s chart-toppers the Dynamic Hepnotics, is targeting a new generation of performers in a bid to drag the union "kicking and screaming into the 21st century".
MUA officials found themselves centre stage in another Peter Reith scandal when Sydney's Daily Telegraph claimed Government had spied on them during last year's MV Tampa stand-off. Conversations between MUA officials and the Tampa's skipper, Arne Rinnan, were intercepted by the Federal Government's spy agency at Geraldton and passed to the office of then Defence Minister, Reith. The Government used information from the private conversations to develop a political response that turned into a key election vote-winner, the paper reported. Subsequent denials by John Howard, Phillip Ruddock et al were published on the same day that their porkies on the "children overboard" scandal were exposed. Clearly unimpressed, the ICFTU representing 157 million trade unionists in 148 countries, pronounced itself "deeply disturbed" in a letter to Howard.
NEW Workplace Relations Minister, Tony Abbott, attempted to match his predecessor by labeling legislative changes that would remove unfair dismissal rights from millions of Australian workers, the Fair Dismissal Bill. In legal jargon, Abbott seeks to prevent "small business employees from applying under the Workplace Relations Act for a remedy in respect of harsh, unjustified or unreasonable termination of employment". Abbott opted for an all-spin attack by claiming, without evidence, the change could create 53,000 new jobs, despite a recent Federal Court finding which said, in part, "there has been much assertion on this topic during recent years, but apparently no effort to ascertain the factual situation". A reasonable effort from a tyro but pale by comparison with a resume featuring fibs that drove goons-on-the-wharves, children overboard and the celebrated Telecard Affair.
ROBBO'S BRAVE FACE
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson labeled polling that revealed widespread support for Government's mandatory detention policies as an "opportunity to challenge racism". Robertson was opening his organisation's Workplace Harmony campaign in Sydney. The line was developed by University of NSW lecturer in workplace relations, Sarah Gregson, who challenged the "myth" that labour had dragged the chain on migrant issues to the point of being the backbone for discredited White Australia policies. She used stirring examples of unity across race and religion, from Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie, to underline her point. Academics Martin Loosemore and Kevin Dunn presented new research while Naomi Steer used UNHCR figures to show Australia lagging well behind other developed countries in refugee arrivals. Batoul Jayyousi from Sydney's Malek Fhad Islamic School, with a role of 1700 pupils, talked about the effects on students and parents of reactions to September 11. She criticised press and politicians for whipping up anti-Islamic sentiment but thanked other schools, public and private, for messages of support signed by pupils and teachers.
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