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  Issue No 17 Official Organ of LaborNet 11 June 1999  

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Features
*  Interview: Class Consciousness
Long-time ALP member Michael Thomson has thrown a few grenades with a new book arguing that middle class trendies have taken over the ALP.
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*  Legal: ReithĻs AWAs Dealt a Blow
ASU v Electrix rules that AWAs can't be a take it or leave it proposition.
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*  Unions: Survey Misses the Point
Last week's attempt by the Australian newspaper to rank trade unions contained some fundamental flaws.
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*  History: The Light on the Hill
Fifty years after his seminal address, Ben Chifley's words still ring true -- and still challenges Labor.
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*  International: Child Labour: Keralaís Recipe
Of Indiaís 55 million slave children, not one is to be found in the state of Kerala, in the south of the sub-continent.
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*  Review: Bazza Mckenzie Holds His Own
Tony Moore on perhaps the greatest Australian movie ever made.
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*  Women: Equal Pay - We've Come A Long Way
Thirty years have passed since women around Australia raised their fists in victory at the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission's historic equal pay for equal work decision.
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*  Activists: Throwing Off the Chains
Thirty years ago, Zelda D'Aprano was so incensed by the lack of progress in achieving pay parity that she twice chained herself to public buildings in Melbourne.
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*  Labour Review: What's New at the Information Centre
View the latest issue of Labour Review, a summary of industrial news for trade unions.
*


Michael Thompson: no chardonnay here!

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Letters to the Editor
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  • Editorial

    A Touch of Class

    A new book claiming that Labor has lost its working class roots lays down a fundamental challenge to the labour movement - who is it that we represent?

    By arguing that both the Labor Party and trade unions have been taken over by middle class trendies who sneer at workers, Michael Thompson is confronting top-down politics head-on.

    You can argue with his analysis, but not with his objective: to ensure that those who run the labour movement fulfil their historical duty - to stand up for the interests of working people.

    As NSW unions work to reinvent themselves and embrace an orgainising culture, we can see how this attitude of engaging with workers, rather than ruling them from on high, is occurring.

    Like the Finance Sector Union, drawing a line in the sand as Westpac attempts to drive wages down through a back-door non-union agreement.

    Like the Australian Workers Union, blowing the whistle as the federal government prepares to send more Australian jobs offshore.

    Like those who still battle for equal pay for women, 30 years after they were told it had already been attained.

    Or like all the affiliates of the Labor Council challenging the Carr Government to make its breed of economic rationalism rational by commissioning an audit into the distribution of services across the state before it takes the knife to the budget.

    This last case perhaps fits Thompson's model the best: a Labor Government dismissing the suggestions of a labour movement who's members delivered it power just months ago.

    I don't know if you need the class-based rhetoric to make Thompson's point; it's about working people not about class distinctions. But the outcome should be the same, listening not telling, working with not ruling over.

    Peter Lewis
    Editor


    Columns

    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Michael Batchelard on the Australian's Union Survey In Defence of Graeme Yallop Christodoulou on Factions - A Lefty Speaks Speech Isnít Free - Itís Not Even Cheap

     


    
    

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