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Issue No. 167 21 February 2003  

Scales of Injustice
The Cole Royal Commissionís final report will be handed to the Howard Government this week, although its public release will be strategically delayed for maximum political capital.


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.


 Cole Commission: The Rort Goes On

 Penalty Rates Under Attack

 Abbott Brushes Ripped Off Aussies

 Overworked Seamanís Painful Hangover

 Australia Snubs International Body

 Women Attracted to Unions

 Murdoch Hacks Dropping Like Flies

 Peace is Union Business

 Qantas Takes Big Stick to Cabin Crew

 Sheltered Workshop in Orange Squeeze

 Carr Govt Commits $13m To Safety

 Monk Puts IR in Test Tube

 Concreters Bury Six-Day Week

 Graincorp Boss in Cyber War

 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.

 This Means War
 Who Let The Troops Out?
 Wagga Wagga Calling
 Ode to Johnny
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Letters to the Editor

This Means War

There may have been up to 1 million Australians on the streets nationwide between 14-16 Feb and 10 million worldwide but we in the labour movement should take our lead from the WA unions in committing to industrial action against the war. Union industrial action played an important part in stopping the Vietnam war we should not shirk from taking a strong stand this time around too regardless of the UN Security Council position.

On 4 February the West Australian union movement set a challenge for other sections of the Australian labour movement. Nine unions covering 75,000 workers in construction, manufacturing, finance and the public sector resolved to carry out protest strikes and demonstrations when the US led invasion of Iraq begins.

This follows the WA union movement opposition to the State Labor Government's collaboration with the US military on the use of port facilities in "Operation Seaswop". The WA Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, and the Upper House MP, Tony McCrae, publicly opposed the Premier, Geoff Gallop on this issue.

According to a report in the Hobart Mercury, 5 February, 2003:

Unions WA Secretary, Dave Robinson, said, "affiliates unanimously voted yesterday to adopt a strong anti-war position. If war against Iraq commences, with or without UN support, affiliates are recommending that we should work together with other community groups to organise mass protest action against the war", Mr. Robinson said. "We need to send a message that most Australians, while strongly opposed to the repressive regime in Iraq, do not believe that war provides any solution. If war does occur though, let there be no mistake - unions and community groups will be united in promoting widespread action in opposition to it."

There is scant reference to this important development in the national mass media.

By Thursday 6 February, the story had turned up in its opposite form. The ABC reported that the Transport Workers Union in WA would refuse to strike:

"Union State Secretary, Jim McGiveron, stopped short of calling the planned campaign un-Australian. 'If our troops are ordered in by John Howard, we will do nothing whatsoever to affect their well being, their welfare', he said. 'We will be delivering whatever is necessary in support of our troops if they're ordered in'. Never mind the well being and welfare of innocent Iraqis following the insertion of a lethal Australian military presence in Iraq.

The ACTU, NSW Labor Council, the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Queensland Council of Unions all have taken anti-war positions, but none so far have proposed industrial action to back up this stand. These peak union bodies and most of the Australian union movement have followed the feeble leadership of Federal Labor in looking for a UN Security Council resolution in favour of war as a way out. The majority of union leaderships have not proposed industrial action even if there is a unilateral invasion of Iraq. Socialists should take heart at the stand taken by Unions WA and work diligently within unions to advance a similar position, regardless of whether war is sanction by the UN or not.

Leon Parisis


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