||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
Combet Calls On Unions to Muscle Up
ACTU secretary Greg Combet told a meeting of more than 700 trade union organisers in Sydney that a clearly articulated set of values, that transcends industrial relations, is needed to rebuild union power.
Combet was launching 'Future Strategies - Unions Working for a Fairer Australia' - a document reviewing and building upon the 1999 [email protected]
That report calls on unions to maintain a relationship with the ALP but also look beyond Labor to build relationships with community groups and other political parties based on a clearly defined set of values.
A set of values, to be debated in the lead up to ACTU's August Congress would include: - democratic rights, a fair distribution of wealth, the right to be employed, access to health and education regardless of your income or social status, decent minimum living standards, a fair tax and social security system, access to housing, respect for indigenous rights, and diversity in the community, a sustainable environment, equal treatment before the law and international cooperation and peace.
These would sit alongside the union's core set of workplace values: the right to decent pay and conditions, safe and healthy workplaces, protection against unfair treatment or dismissal, gender equality, the right to collectively bargain and to organise and cooperation instead of conflict.
Combined, they would create a clear roadmap for all union members and a focus for broader political activity.
"Unions in the US are increasingly adopting a hard-headed approach to politics," the report says. "They make sure political candidates seeking union support actively support union objectives."
In his speech Combet acknowledged the widespread frustration in union ranks about politicians and political parties:
"There is a justifiable feeling that much more could be done to assist working people and union organisation, particularly by Labor Governments. I think we should take a constructive approach to this issue - to turn the frustration into a positive strategy.
"We should draw upon our values to develop a clearer set of goals for union political activity.
"Are we effectively making the case within the ALP and more broadly for improvements for casual workers, for collective bargaining rights, for improved safety and workers compensation, for low paid workers?
"Are the candidates supported by unions for parliamentary elections genuinely committed to our social and economic justice goals?"
In his address, Combet also called on unions to:
- debate changes to the industrial relations system, including the idea of European-style Works Councils;
- consider a single national telephone number for contacting unions;
- build the number and skills of workplace delegates;
- modernise union communication and campaign methods;
- invest more heavily in membership drives in growing parts of the workforce; and
- and develop innovative recruiting tactics such as visiting workers in their homes.
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