||Issue No. 131||12 April 2002|
Interview: Cross Wires
International: Two Tribes
Activists: Beneath the Veil
Unions: Terror Australis
History: A Labor Footnote To The Royal Funeral
Economics: Private Affluence, Public Rip-Off
Review: The Great Hall of the People
Poetry: Waiting for the Living Wage
Satire: Israel Recruits NAB To Close West Bank
The Locker Room
Week in Review
A Voice for the Shareholders
Noses in the Trough
Memo: Carmen Lawrence
Police: Make the Boss a Woman
Baby Faced Brogden
Workers Online - Aoteroa
Letters to the Editor
Labor and Unions - What About the Workers?
Most of the current debate about the ALP-union relationship is centred around relations between union officials and Labor frontbenchers. These relations are obviously vital. However, I think unions also need to tie our political relationships in with the movement's focus on organising; and in particular promotion of member activism and development of workplace leadership.
Forums such as ALAC nationally (if it still exists?) and the State Labor Advisory Committee in NSW have their worth, but we also need to look at developing mechanisms that empower our workplace leaders.
Labor MP's should be required to establish ongoing regular dialogue with trade unionists in their electorates. The Party should require each MP to meet regularly with those union delegates who work in their electorate.
This could take the form of a regular monthly or quarterly meeting open to all union delos in the MP's electorate, &/or other meetings with delos that are specific to a particular union or sector or geographic part of the electorate. The details could be worked out locally, but the ALP nationally ought to require each MP to enter into a formal ongoing consultative process with union delegates working in their elctorate.
Many ALP parliamentarians have virtually no contact with the union movement and our issues. Most of our activists see no point in joining the ALP & becoming active in its branches, given the state of the ALP branch network and the lack of Party democracy. So we need to come up with ideas that force Labor MP's to respond to unionists' priorities and enhance the role of our active members.
Regular exposure to a mob of local union delos would be character building for many Labor MP's, I think!
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