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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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Letters to the Editor

French Connection

Why did Lionel Jospin, the Socialist party candidate, get only 16% of the vote in the first round of Presdiential elections in france and over 30% stay away?

It wasn't because the revolutionary left split the vote. It was perfectly correct for the Trotskyist and revolutionary left to stand candidates. They stood because they disagreed fundamentally with Jospin's pro-capitalist anti-worker policies and wanted to give voice to ordinary working people. They received a combined vote of 13%.

Jospin won parliamentary elections five or six years ago on the back of massive strikes across France. Those strikes won him power and forced him to introduce a 35 hour week. But the 35 hours he introduced was a compromise and Jospin couldn't and wouldn't satisfy workers' expectations.

If Jospin had governed for workers rather than capitalists the revolutionary left would have received an abysmal vote.

There was massive disillusionment with Jospin's Government as it moved to become the French equivalent of New Labour in the UK.

On top of that Jospin ran a Beazley type campaign - he didn't differentiate himself at all from Chirac. This is because his politics are basically the same as Chirac's - pro-capitalist.

There was clearly a swing to the revolutionary left. 13% of French people consciously voted for Trotskyist candidates who talked about capitalism and revolution.

What we may be witnessing is the beginning of the decline of social democracy in Europe. As society fractures from the centre, some are moving to the far left.

As to the so-called swing to the Right, in fact the fascist Le Pen's vote increased only 2% over the last Presidential election.

This is not a massive swing to the fascist right, although the fact that Le Pen is the second candidate in the run off may (and I stress the word may) give him and his politics some added respectability.

The spontaneous demonstrations in Paris and other places against Le Pen show there is real hope.

But greater forces will be needed.

A united front of all the forces of the Left - the trade unions and the political parties - has the power to stop him. In that struggle it will be the revolutionary Left which proves itself the best fighter against fascism and for working people.

John Passant


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