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Issue No. 156 11 October 2002  

Work and the Meaning of Life
The high-profile case of Kamal El-Masiri takes the debate over the intersection of work and family onto an altogether higher plane.


Interview: The Wet One
NSW Opposition industrial relations spokesman Michael Gallacher stakes out his relationship with the union movement.

Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Virgin Mobile is sexy and funky, right? Well, only if those terms have become synonyms for dictatorial or downright mean.

Unions: Demolition Derby
Tony Abbott likens industrial relations to warfare and, like a good general should, he is about to shift his point of attack � from building sites to car plants, reports Jim Marr.

Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
For the powerful, consumerism equals freedom, and is all the freedom we need, writes James Goodman

Politics: American Jihad
Let�s get real. The origins of modern Islamic terrorist groups are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Langley, Virginia not Baghdad, argues Noel Hester.

Health: Secret Country
Oral history recordings are an inadequate tool in trying to find out what happened to Aboriginal stockmen and their communities on cattle stations in Northern Australia, writes Neale Towart

Review: Walking On Water
On the 20th anniversary of the first AIDS-related death, Tara de Boehmler witnesses the aftermath of losing a loved one to the illness in Walking On Water.

Culture: TCF
Novelist Anthony Macris captures life on the shop floor in this extract from his upcoming novel, Capital Volume II

Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
The University of Queensland has sought to join the ranks of union-busting companies like Rio Tinto in trying to sack the president of the local union - and made the mistake of thinking they were dealing with an array of acquiescent academics.


 Muslims Snubbed in Discrimination Laws

 Workplace Racism Rife Post S11

 Mad Monk�s World In Turmoil

 Qantas Directors Bust Wages Freeze

 Deregistration on Cole Agenda

 Aussie Wharfies Save Farmers

 Victorian Libs Block Pay Rise

 Dad�s the Word For Steelworkers

 Funeral Workers Dig in Their Heels

 Unions Expose Truth Of McDonalds� People Promise

 Gay and Lesbians Workers To Meet

 VTHC Urges Compassion For Colombian Refugees

 New Zealand Workers Win Paid Parental Leave

 WorkCover Inspectors Off the Road

 Mine Guards Shoot Own Workers

 Unions On Call For Working Young

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
I Walk The Line
American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has weighed into the Hilton Hotel dispute with this special message to the workforce.

Mekong Daze
Union Aid Abroad's Phil Hazelton fires off a missive from Laos where he is spending a year working with the community.

Month In Review
Bush Whackers
It was a month where the world teetered on the brink of peace, no thanks to the leader of the free world, writes Jim Marr

The Locker Room
The Laws Of Gravity
Phil Doyle goes looking for the fine line that separates sport from an exercise in time-wasting

Snouts in the Trough
It�s AGM season in the corporate world, and deal after shady deal is being exposed as highfliers treat company accounts like the proverbial honey-pot.

Songs of Solidarity
There has been a proud history of pro-worker tunes dating back to the early days of the 20th century, which will be continued in a new CD, writes Dan Buhagiar.

 Who Is Farmhand?
 Direct Voting Rights
 Iraq is a Gobalisation Issue Too
 Letter to George Dubya
 WTO and Schools
 Casual Thought
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Letters to the Editor

Casual Thought

Letters to the Editor

Workers Online

Thursday, 10 October 2002

Dear Sir,

While certainly not collaborating with the attempt at personal martyrdom by 'Jane Graham', in her letter 'Casual Days' (Workers Online issue 155, October 2002), I as consumer of TAFE products am supportive of the many fulltime or part time educators now employed within this important component in attaining a the goal of a "knowledge nation..".

My support is generated not from compassion, for the bitterness of Jane, who is fortunate enough to be in paid employment, but for those who attempt to stay in the "learning for life race", or those, who have been discarded as redundant, expendable or excess to requirements, after a 40 -50 years in the workforce, pick themselves up from the canvas of life and attempt to re-skill themselves in an effort to continue their contribution to society.

Jane, I can also relate to your predicament, as I made redundant from my last employment, with the job I was doing being taken by a Casual Employee who is still a casual, from an Employment Agency, I received a letter from the general manager Mr. Terry Barnes, an person who I had never met and had never written to me before, in which I perceived him to state that I was as useless as the popes balls. (My interpretation, not his actual words)

As an employee who had given my all , and adhered to policies and procedures following all the complaints procedures prior to seeking external assistance , this completely destroyed my self esteem, creating a sea of tears and critical examination , and it has only been through my re-education at TAFE, that I have regained any of this.

Jane, does this not fill you with altruistic joy?

These mature aged people learn differently than young persons and are increasing consumer base for education providers, with the possibility of 'TAFE' survival depending on their needs, as this inexpensive avenue for University entrance or, Vocational Training is further privatised, because of fiscal necessity.

Adults have more than enough personal distractions and obstacles to learning this requires different and specialised training skills.

While, I have through my recent interactions with TAFE educators, gained a new respect for not only the abilities of such educators, but their desire to impart knowledge and their commitment in attaining this goal, I believe Jane and her comrades should reconsider their goals, and perhaps rather than continue a 'Welfare State' mentality, assess what they have to offer and calculate the price at which it will be sold.

The problem Jane is currently experiencing , is one that all of us experience and will continue to experience; it is that of a free market , a massive fraud of which the transference of loyalties ,from a Trade Union Solidarity born in the depression and nurtured by unemployed , dispossessed and betrayed Warriors from the Great War , in the slums London , Bradford, Birmingham , Glasgow , Dublin ,Belfast , Berlin , and Munich and once again revived world wide by Warriors from the second great conflict , who although discarded , had learned of the power in a disciplined structure.

I know as a child I listened to these old men reminisce and relive their battles, both, martial and industrial encouraging the youth to follow their footsteps by joining their local militia.

The great losses to those that must labour for sustenance, were not lost on an industrial battlefield, they were given away by those that have never had to fight for survival, those that have suckled on the great deeds of their ancestors, those who think they are just the bees knees, because their mum told them so, those that have walked in the light of heroes.

Those of fragile spirit, could with large corporations who produce products, apply a covert operation, such as the "Death of a Thousand Cuts", this works well on organisations or "Bullies" , who can be speedily replaced , particularly when this involves the exposure of the organisation or individual as hypocritical or an antitheses of community standards , petty bureaucrats and or politicians can be categorised in with these filth, and surprise is a key element.

But with an educational institution, it is the reputation that it trades upon, and to destroy this is akin to self destruction.

Jane, if I may suggest, you and your colleagues market your abilities, and what better way than to display your products, these being Citizens who have advanced through your tuition.

I have had over the past 11 years, had reason to thank the educators at, Kingswood Primary, and Cambridge Park High School, for the extra time and effort they have provided to my own siblings, and while this does not put bread on the table , they have made a positive difference to society , if only by moderating my radial influence on a future generation. Would this not be a priceless reward?

I have also had reason to thank almost all the educators I have come in contact with over the past 12months at the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE , for not only their education , but the patience shown , to my ignorance in structured learning skills .

So in return,

If you feel that such influence is not ample reward, then contact me, and I can advise you with accuracy on how to confidently stride the path to fruitless martyrdom, with or without the mandatory cross, to the pauper's grave, figuratively speaking of course!

It was Thomas Jefferson an alleged radical and racist, of whom I hope, unproven, spurious and withdrawn allegations which I also had been accused of displaying in a disciplinary hearing in a concentrated effort to excise me from my employment at Sydney City Council, in 1998, are not our only similarities, wrote in his letter The "Tree of Liberty" to William Smith in 1787.

What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.

Tom Collins




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