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Issue No. 166 14 February 2003  

A Call To Arms
Workers Online returns from our summer break to face a world on the brink, the structures of global cooperation being crushed by the iron will of the earth�s last remaining superpower.


Interview: Agenda 2003
ACTU secretary Greg Combet looks at the year ahead and how a union movement can keep the focus on the workplace at a time of global crisis.

Peace: The Colour Purple
Local communities across Australia are taking stands against war by displaying purple banners. Jim Marr visits one.

Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
As Workers Online took its annual break, the world kept turning � at an increasingly alarming velocity.

Solidarity: Workers Against War
Joann Wypijewski reports on how union locals in the USA are fighting the hounds of war at home.

Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
With all the talk of terror, the Howard Government�s Achilles heel is its tolerance of Flags of Convenience shipping , writes Rowan Cahill

International: Industrial Warfare
Scottish freight train drivers have already acted to disrupt the war effort in the UK with crews of four freight trains carrying war supplies to ports walking off the job, writes Andrew Casey

History: Unions and the Vietnam War
The Vietnam experience steered some unions towards social activism for the first time. Unions are today key players in the anti-war movement, writes Tony Duras.

Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Mark Hebblewhites looks at two summer movies that tap into different sounds of American culture - white boy rap and motown blues.

Poetry: Return To Sender
Resident bard Divd Peetz discovers that Elvis has become the latest shock recruit to the peace cause.

Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
CIA Director George Tenet announced today that the agency has begun recruiting future enemies for the year 2014.


 The Cuffe Link � Taxpayers Cough Up

 Carr: Secret Lib Plan to Slash Public Sector

 Abbott Comes Out Swinging

 Thanks a Million: Cole�s Lawyers Clean-up

 Corrigan Dogs On Jobs Promise

 Gnomes Fess Up � Unionism Best For All

 Owens Survives 30-Year Ban

 Ribs and Rumps Something for Government to Chew On

 Badges of Honour

 Guards Rail Against Assaults

 Workers Online Scoops Global Prize

 Currawong Must Pay It�s Way

 Let�s Get Real! 2nd Australasian Organising Conference

 Guard Knocked Out in Villawood Escape

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Getting On with The Job
Premier Bob Carr chose Trades Hall as the venue to launch Labor's IR policy for the upcoming state election.

Justice in Bogota
Sydney lawyer Ian Latham knows how to pick them. He�s gone straight from the Cole Royal Commission to justice Colombian-style.

The Locker Room
Heart Of Darkness
There is a school of thought that there is, in fact, only one World Cup - and it doesn�t involve cricket, writes Phil Doyle.

Danger Mouse
John Howard's politics have trapped him into supporting an unpopular war. He is in political trouble, Leonie Bronstein argues.

 Bouquets and Brickbats
 War Talk
 A Tale of Two Malls
 Talk Back Tom
 On The Beach
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Letters to the Editor

A Tale of Two Malls

On Saturday morning (8 February 2003) something remarkable happened in the Steel and University city of Wollongong, south of Sydney. Thousands of people, as many as 7000 according to helicopter scrutineers, but certainly 5000, took to the streets to protest against war with Iraq. Not just war without the blessing of the UN, but WAR FULL STOP.

The huge crowd choked the streets of the CBD, stopped traffic for the best part of half an hour, as it streamed from the Labour Council building near the railway station to the amphitheatre in the heart of the city Mall.

It was a multicultural and cross generational mix. There were old people with walking sticks, and those too frail to walk rode on fire trucks; there were adolescents with spiked hair; there were trade unionists with union flags and banners (the Teachers and the Maritime workers stood out); there were young people in their early twenties, protesting for the first time; there were people who hadn't protested since the 1960s and 70s; there were Muslims; there were Christians; and there were young families, many young families, complete with kids, strollers, and pet dogs on leads with peace ribbons around their necks.

The crowd settled in the amphitheatre area around the stage, and filled the Mall. During the songs and speeches that followed there were, for me, two memorable occasions. The first was the speech by the Catholic Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Ingham; he spoke calmly, his confident delivery carefully paced and phrased. He drew from the Sermon on the Mount, and ended with the Peace Prayer of St. Francis Assissi. In between he spoke about God in a way that crossed faiths, and he spoke about peace, and how while war is expensive, peace is priceless, and he questioned the motives of politicians who seem intent on creating a huge conflict with the Muslim world. God, he said, was smiling on the Wollongong demonstrators, which in context seemed to imply that He was not as close to George Bush as the White House claims.

The crowd was quiet; the Mall was quiet; many shops ceased trading; and as I moved through the crowd I saw people on tip toe craning to catch the Bishop's words. It was as though the Mall had momentarily become an open air church.

On the verandah of the restaurant overlooking the stage, Saturday morning coffee drinkers also listened attentively, and when the Bishop finished, joined the huge applause.

Later John Maitland, National Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, spoke; the second memorable occasion. What concerned him was the racism that courses through Australia's "war against terror" and the forthcoming war with Iraq. He spoke with conviction, and with controlled passion, and when he told the crowd that the trade union movement welcomes Muslims, there was thunderous applause that sent the Mall's seagull community packing.

At the same time in another Mall, sixty kilometres south-west of Wollongong in the Southern Highlands town of Bowral, right in the heart of Liberal territory, 300 local anti-war protesters gathered. They were addressed by former Midnight Oil singer Peter Garrett. Again, the same generational mix of people, the same sort of sentiments, but minus the multiculturalism of Wollongong. And this at a time when the Bowral Post Office reports a deluge of demands to return John Howard's 'anti-terror' booklet to the sender; a local citizenry outraged by the waste of public money and the attempt by the Howard Government to create a political climate of uncertainty and fear.

There is something stirring in the Australian soul, possibly similar to the cantankerous oppositional spirit that variously came alive during the anti-conscription battles of 1916-1917, during 1951 and the campaign against the banning of the Communist Party of Australia, and during the 1960s and early 70s in opposition to conscription and the Vietnam War.

Rowan Cahill


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