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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 earthís 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 Ė 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 Governmentís 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 Ė Taxpayers Cough Up

 Carr: Secret Lib Plan to Slash Public Sector

 Abbott Comes Out Swinging

 Thanks a Million: Coleís Lawyers Clean-up

 Corrigan Dogs On Jobs Promise

 Gnomes Fess Up Ė 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 Itís Way

 Letís 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. Heís 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 doesnít 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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Currawong Must Pay Itís Way

NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson has sent an open letter to the Friends of Currawong, warning the movement cannot continue to underwrite the Pittwater holiday camp.

Robertson says Currawong is losing $30,000 to $50,000 per annum, money the union movement needs to invest in organising and renewal.

The issue has become a political football in the lead-up to the NSW State Election, with Opposition Leader John Brogden joining forces with those opposed to any upgrade of the facility.

Brogden last week vowed to block any development on the site, despite refusing to meet with Labor Council to be briefed on its plans.

The Labor Council terminated a contract with Longevity Management to improve the facilities in December after a deadline to submit a development application to Pittwater Council lapsed.

This has sparked a new wave of activity by anti-development protestors opposed to any change in the current operations. Robertson says there are no offers on the table, but made it clear he'll consider all proposals to stem the cash drain.

The Open Letter reads as follows:

Anyone who has spent time at Currawong knows that this is a magical place. This has never been the issue.

The facts are that over the past decade Currawong has cost the NSW union movement between $30,000 and $50,000 per annum. While the ACTU Organising Centre runs residential courses on the property, the facilities are run down and in need of repair, meaning we will need to spend even more in the future. The other income comes from union members and their friends, overwhelmingly from the North Shore, Northern Beaches, Inner West and Eastern Suburbs taking cheap holidays on Pittwater.

It is well known that Labor Council has been reviewing Currawong for some time. In 1999 Labor Council entered a management contract with Longevity Management to upgrade facilities, pay Labor Council $200,000 in rent per annum and still keep the facility open for union training and holidays. Labor Council terminated that agreement in December 2002 when Longevity Management failed to meet one of the conditions precedents in the Management Agreement.

Despite claims by some, there are no other proposals on the table, although I have made it clear to the Labor Council Executive that I will continue to look for ways to ensure that Currawong is not a drain on trade union resources. Those of us who care deeply about the future of the trade union movement know this is not the time to be focussing on where we take our holidays. Every one of us needs to be working to organise workers and see the movement strong again.

Throughout their campaign the Friends of Currawong have never entered this debate about the most responsible way to manage a trade union asset. Instead they have promised plan after plan to make the property profitable without ever delivering on a real or viable alternative.

At the same time they have engaged in a series of unprincipled attacks to support their case including personal attacks on Labor Council Officers and their families, religious vilification of the TM movement, and entering politically opportunistic alliances with the same Liberal Party that is championing a war on Iraq and attacking workers' rights at every opportunity.

I have told the Friends of Currawong I am open to a reasonable dialogue on the future of Currawong. But I have also made it clear that to continue to squander union resources for a holiday camp is not something I can responsibly do as Secretary of Labor Council.


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