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Issue No. 133 26 April 2002  

The Struggle Continues
While the romantic image of May Day may be one of international struggle to establish a workers paradise, the reality is far more pragmatic and practical.


Interview: If The Commission Pleases
President Lance Wright marks the NSW Industrial Relations Commission's centenary with an exclusive interview with Workers Online.

History: Protest and Celebrate
Neale Towart scours the globe to discover the spirit of May Day online � the celebration of the eight-hour day.

Unions: A Novel Approach
A union office has been transformed into a library thanks to efforts to provide books for children in detention centres, reports Jim Marr.

Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
Close your eyes and the Mad Monk sounds like a Hare Krishna, but increasingly the world is tuning out from his mantra about IR reform, writes Noel Hester.

International: Never Forget Jenin
Trade unionist Sari Kassis argues the word 'Jenin' now defines Palestinian demands for justice.

Politics: Left Right Out In France
The results of the first round vote for the French presidency have led to mass protests and calls for national unity, Paul Howes reports.

Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Zoe Reynolds travelled to Cuba to discover how Australians are backing a ground-breaking child health project.

Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Tara de Boehmler stumbles upon a juicy trade union sub-plot in the popular GenX TV drama.

Poetry: May Day, May Day
Rapper Swarmy G is one of the finalists in our workers anthem comp with this ode to May Day.


 Shonky Bosses Get Contract Brush

 Kirby Bouquet for Equal Pay

 Deep Pocket Syndrome Stalks IRC

 Court Decision Threatens Thousands Of Jobs

 Safety Summit to Set Accident Targets

 Detention Centre Vets Song Lyrics

 Fat Sheep Dip Into Workers Pockets

 Government Con Drives SA Vehicle Blue

 Dead Worker�s Family Calls for Safety Crime Laws

 Netball Mum Bounces Back

 Aussie Agency Backs War Crimes Call

 Thumbs-up For Union Immigration Role

 May Day Rundown

 DOCS Worker Assaulted In Courthouse

 Queensland Unions Move on Youth Exploitation

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
A Humane Under-Belly
Presenting the annual Kingsley Laffer Lecture, Justice Michael Kirby argues that international human rights underpin Australian industrial law.

The Locker Room
The Hidden Culture of Indigenous Football
Brian McCoy argues that indigenous footballers do not just bring thier skills to the game, they bring their culture as well.

Of Shares and Options
It was a week when Rio Tinto faced its shareholders, Ford faced a backlash and a bid to cap US executive salaries failed.

Week in Review
The ANZAC Spirit?
Jim Marr wonders what the ANZACs would have said about our current treatment of the homeless and needy.

 French Connection
 Gold Star Student
 Time for a General Strike?
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The Secret Life of U(nion)s

Tara de Boehmler stumbles upon a juicy trade union sub-plot in the popular GenX TV drama.


Lately the Secret Life of Us has been looking distinctly like a television program that has it all. It's got an engaging cast, powerful acting and a newly emerging storyline so pregnant with potential that it is beginning to shape up as a must not miss event.

One of the main characters, the headstrong yet hypersensitive Gabrielle, has recently got a job working as a union organiser with the conveniently titled Australian Collective Workers Union.

So far her duties have involved trying to get an unscrupulous employer to sign a bullying in the workplace code of practice after a young apprentice was tied up in the sun and had burning toilet paper thrown at him in his cubicle.

When Gabrielle informs the young man's boss that a formal complaint has been lodged, the uncaring oaf laughs the incident off as a routine initiation ceremony and a valid part of workplace culture. The next time the apprentice visits the union he is covered in cigarette burns and bruises.

The injustice of it all propels the incensed Gabrielle back to confront the boss, where she threatens to take him to the Children's Court, launch an anti-discrimination suit, take him to the IRC, and go to the police to get assault charges laid.

When Gabrielle later informs her own boss of her actions, she is taken by surprise to be reprimanded for behaving like a "loose canon" and sacrificing the union's chance of running an effective media campaign. He tells her the trade union is a group and must take action as a group.

Workplace bullying is a larger issue than a lone apprentice's experience, he says. Working Gabrielle's way the apprentice may have been assisted but by running a successful campaign the entire workplace culture could have been changed and the broader issues highlighted.

The story's message hit its mark and left this reviewer hungry for more.

But then comes the catch. Gabrielle has the hots for her "Mr Wonderful Married Guy" boss and it has recently been revealed that the feeling is mutual. Could the meaty union yarn really be sacrificed for a cliched and very doomed office romance scenario? Will one or both of them cross the line from platonic to problematic? Are sexual harassment proceedings in the air? The fate of a very promising storyline hangs in the balance. Watch this space.

Rating: *** (Dangerous liaisons)


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