||Issue No. 177||09 May 2003|
Joining The Dots
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
Joining The Dots
It comes as unions are evaluating the success of the [email protected] strategy, the manifesto that Combet adopted on taking the top job that called on unions to shift resources to grassroots organising.
Over three days of workshops, more than 700 organisers took stock of where the movement had gone in those four years and how much further they had to travel before they could safely discard Michael Crosby's 'scary graph' of falling union numbers to the dustbin of history.
If the most recent statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing a further decline in union numbers after two years of minor growth are anything to go by, that quantum leap has yet to be achieved.
It shows that despite the undoubted need for trade unions to shift their resources to the shop floor and concentrate on organising around nuts and bolts workplace issues, more is needed to create the wave of unionism that will really turn around our density.
That's where the broader union agenda needs to come into play - values based around fairness, equity, social justice and, yes, aspiration, that provide a road-map for every workplace struggle.
We are a diverse movement that can't be dictated to by doctrine - members' interests on individual issues will inevitably clash at times. What will remain consistent though is a clear sense that unions are on the workers' side and not sitting with the boss.
It is this core value, more than anything else, that the Accord years compromised and the ongoing monogamous relationship with an ALP that does not return the fidelity continues to undermine.
The input of the leaders of the peak councils Greg Combet, Paul Goulter from New Zealand and John Robertson, reinforced that the time has come to reassert the movement.
Robertson's challenge to abandon mindless factionalism and territorialism, Combet's call to review our political reliance on the ALP and Goulter's simple call to be more courageous in everything we do, amount to a challenge to think bigger.
It's why health care and higher education and international trade agreements and peace are core, not fringe union issues.
They are about building the momentum to give unionism a resonance that lingers after the EBA has been negotiated or the bastard manager pulled into line.
It's about joining up the dots; from the shop floor to the industry to the broader society.
As the graduates from this year's Organising Works campaign showed cheering each other on as they received their certificates at the Conference Dinner: it doesn't matter what your age, your culture, your dress-sense or, God forbid, your political faction - it's all about being Union.
It all comes down to values.
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