||Issue No. 133||26 April 2002|
The Struggle Continues
Interview: If The Commission Pleases
History: Protest and Celebrate
Unions: A Novel Approach
Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
International: Never Forget Jenin
Politics: Left Right Out In France
Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Poetry: May Day, May Day
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Gold Star Student
Time for a General Strike?
The Secret Life of U(nion)s
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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