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Issue No. 186 11 July 2003  

Beyond the Possible
For a union movement that is struggling to break through the constraints of time and place, the visit of US union leader Amy Dean this week has been a breath of fresh air.


Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
One the movement’s great characters, Public Service Association general secretary Maurie O’Sullivan, is calling it a day. He looks back on his career with Workers Online.

Industrial: Just Doing It
Sportswear giant, Nike, is the first company to sign off on an agreement that purports to protect Australian clothing workers, wherever they labour, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
For a 23-year-old woman who has never worked in the trade, recruiting young construction apprentices into the union has its challenges, reports Carly Knowles.

Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Mal Cochrane came to the smoke as part of an Aboriginal avalanche that redefined the face of Rugby League. Today, he serves his community through the trade union movement.

Bad Boss: In the Pooh
What do you give a boss who makes his workers labour in raw sewage? A nomination for the Tonys.

Unions: National Focus
In the national wrap Noel Hester finds a Victorian Misso delo who is redistributing lucre from Eddie McGuire into workers’ theatre, South Australian unions taking that Let’s Get Real stuff seriously, an American unionist fronts up at a distinguished ‘meeting of the brains’ in Adelaide and a look at the line up for ACTU Congress.

Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Dick Bryan wonders if we can be insured against pop economists promising financial nirvana as well as financial market instability.

Technology: Dean for President
Paul Smith looks at how the internet is helping one Democrat candidate to the front of the primary pack

International: Rangoon Rumble
Union Aid Abroad's Marj O'Callaghan looks at Australia's weak response to developments in Burma.

Education: Blackboard Jungle
Lifelong learning shouldn’t mean cutting jobs, but that's exactly what the Carr Government is proposing, argues Tony Brown

Review: From Weakness to Strength
Labor Council crime-fighter Chris Christodoulou catches up with his boyhood hero, the Incredible Hulk

Poetry: Downsized
Resident bard David Peetz pens the song the Industrial Relations Commission needed to hear


 Stop Thief: Shelf Company Owes Millions

 Axed Workers Take on Max

 Seven Bowls Bouncer at Umpire

 Smokescreen Clouds Morris McMahon Win

 Rail Boss Locked In

 Actors To Be Paid Their Dues

 Ruddock Urged to Block Immigration Scam

 Silicon Workers Seize Their Valley

 Wage Case Swings on Fare Go

 Fire, Pepper Spray all in a Day’s Work

 Taking It Up for Medicare

 Shelved Worker Fights Back

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Cleaning Up
Rabbi Laurie Coskey from San Diego adds her voice to the global campaign for just for cleaners in Westfield malls.

The Locker Room
The Name In The Game
In an age of the sportsperson as celebrity it seems that names are overtaking the games, writes Phil Doyle.

The Beach
Southern Thailand’s terrorist activities: facts or fiction asks HT Lee

 Union Posters
 Tom's Lessons
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Letters to the Editor

Tom's Lessons

After attempting to resist offering an uneducated and maladroit response to the article '*Blackboard Jungle' in issue 185 of Workers Online, be it a tug of the forelock to my betters or a the usual vernacular spray of the common man, person, I ignored the fear of ridicule and now claim my right to free expression, be it vulgar, uneducated, uninformed, or perhaps only different from the self perpetuating minority of Bull shit artists who generation after generation convince our politicians that they actually know the composition of what emanates from their orifices.

The very first statement presented as if fact by Tony Brown, is that Andrew Refshauges' blueprint for the future is a cynical document.

Now that may be true, but I doubt Tony Brown has discussed this with 'Andrew', so in that case we must regard

Ø The label given by Tony, is his own perception and reflective of his mind set rather than the Ministers

Ø Cynicism is a negative and not an attribute such as contempt of ease and pleasure such as disseminated by Antisthenes, this personal antithesis by Tony being understandable; as a cynic is also inherently an anti-intellectual and this is the pedestal of elitism on which Tony stands.

I agree that 'Lifelong Learning' is essentially an organizational restructure , but not aimed at cutting 1000 jobs but using the 'Human Resources ' more effectively and with an outcome rather that a seat warming exercise for the next incumbent and yes of course , as recipients of public largesse ,PSA and Teachers Federation members will be affected.

This is nothing unusual, it is the churning of the workplace that the PSA and Teachers Federation has as an affiliate to other labor organizations stood by and watched while this Socialist Workplace Inquisition and its retributive consequences were applied to other areas under the erroneous premise that education is sacrosanct and teachers/educators no matter how incompetent could continue to suckle on the public teat.

This I must assume is also based on the ancient but also flawed premise that all teachers are competent, with unquestionable integrity and incorruptible. This from 50 years experience of 'Lifetime Learning and two families, I cannot accept, and my own personal experiences belie this premise of a pristine education system or the nature of all those that have a pecuniary gain from it.

Tony , by stating the obvious ; 'Education is a Labor issue' is only valid because it is a national issue , and he then proceeds to push his own wheel barrow in manifesting the arrogance of elitist intellectualism thereby diluting his argument on the issues of TAFE , which is/has been promoted as a Competency Based Training system.

A promotion which I would dispute and could be evidenced through the examination of those pronounced competent through allegedly accredited assessments, within one month of receiving their documentation proclaiming this competence.

To assuage any concerns about this response being an education system bashing exercise, I have with a few personal exceptions, nothing, but praise for the primary and High School component of our education system, and I feel no embarrassment in naming Cambridge Park High as a school that has featured all its priorities in the interests of the students. Sadly when one attempts to access the 'sheltered workshop' of education - "TAFE"- , then alas, if not all, then many of the educators employed by TAFE, that I have encountered, may have a hidden potential or unsurpassed hidden knowledge, but without either the ability, willingness or both to impart this knowledge, they, being those paid to educate, are as useless as a eunuchs testicles, and are for all intents and purposes parasites on the public purse. This abomination is maintained only by politicising their positions; this will eventuate in the unthinkable fruition of education as a 'Public - Private Partnership'.

Society would be better off; if all the paralysis ticks in the education system were hived off with the many productive Australians made redundant in the Socialist Economic Rationalism Campaign of Hawke/Keating/Carr , while the elite , those middle class welfare bludgers , safely ensconced in their Ivory Towers kept their drawbridge up and their portcullis down, painted blood on the lintels and their vivid imaginations giving a false sense of security that 'this too shall pass' and they, the chosen people shall be spared the ravages of The Hawke/Keating initiated economic rationalism policies , policies perpetuated by the Carr/Egan partnership.

These pseudo educators could then gain real life experience on the imparting of knowledge a quantifiable measurement, rather than play with the unquantifiable and obfuscations of 'Pseudo Problem Solving Skills', skills which cannot be measured as they are abilities which only are only truly called upon in times of tribulation not during some role playing exercise with a group of paroxysmal dough whackers attempting to perform mutual obligation upon each other, 'Consenting of Course.

These over paid incompetents would be more effective on a Commonwealth funded Unemployment benefit participating in a 'Work for the Dole' scheme educating or being educated by the unemployed and the unemployable in employment skills or perhaps on how to manipulate the Education system through plagiarised proforma assessments.

This would also be a budget saving for the already overflowing state treasury coffers, as the funding would be derived from the Commonwealth and an abundance of saved revenue which could be put to better use actually producing something, perhaps a new Water storage system which could be privatised prior to the next election to fund the Pork Barrelling exercises which are now expected at every election.

As for education being seen as a way of broadening ones outlook, under the current system, I think not, how could a child educated in "the sheltered workshops of TAFE' have obtained anything but a myopic "counterfeit" outlook of the world, and if it takes a Howard government to stand up to the intimidation of the PSA or the Teachers Federation, then 'So Mote it be'!

Further into his discourse Tony references several non specific sources eg: "all qualitative focus groups", "wealth of documentation" ,"The on lifelong learning from Europe, the UK, and Asia and from supranational bodies such as the EU, OECD, and UNESCO conceive of a new ecology of educational arrangements" , but deliberately and negligently for an academic , fails to provide a bibliography from which he sources it , now that may be acceptable for an intellectual derelict such a shadow as myself being cast in , but not one with such credentials as Tony.

The Lifelong Learning that postulates a broad and deep commitment to education and learning can only be personal and familial and what relationship this bears on the distrust of politicians is still vague and opaque to me.

I am open to new thought on education, not only the issues I have raised but specifically, as to an explanation ; as to how children over board and weapons of mass destruction are related to a Lifetime of Learning or support for Labor on Education , this connection has me baffled and I support Labor, or am I not important?

Tony states "Only that education contributing directly to economic productivity has been prioritized and learning for pleasure, social, civic or aesthetic purposes has been dismissed or downplayed. "

There are certain realities in this Universe which are immutable and competition which was embraced by Socialist politicians and the Union Movement is the new reality and currently immutable, so education must be focussed on how this will evolve and how to use this tool of commerce.

Tony while advocating a holistic embrace of society in the learning process restricts his own terms of reference to "learning pedagogies", a restrictive definition which by its very meaning excludes those other than the"child" or "child like" and while I personally find this learning easy and simple most adults do not, therefore is exclusive to children and by definition cannot be a process of 'Lifetime of Learning', that is useless future generations will be clones of Peter Pan.

On the other hand "Andragogy " or adult learning would embrace, a well developed sense of ego addressing the prefer to learn if they perceive they are active in the learning process , and to accommodate this the , the knowledge must be either corrupted or perverted to suit the biggest ego in the collective. If not, then this student / learner / educator / teacher becomes disruptive to the process, the consequences being anarchism in the education system. His is a circumstance in which Unions can thrive as they usually attract the pessimist, who is not only quick to expose a difficulty, but create one and at times even turn to religion in prayer for a catastrophe to justify their stand, this was manifest recently during the Excision of Terrorism in the Iraq conflict, where alleged representatives of the people even condemned their own to justify their perversions.

But still refuse as promised to eat their hat! Eh! Tanya..

Tony decries the meagre budget for Adult and Community Education , from the dealings I have had with Adult Education , and they are quite extensive , it is a case of the blind leading the myopic , with the students usually the myopic , as they at least , have the benefit of life experience , and the allegedly educated sponger never having worked , and in fact , this would be part of the new aristocracy where either the youngest children of the powerful were placed in well paid government positions , in the case of TAFE and ACE , is it the placement of the incompetents being placed in these in these positions , and perplex or fudge the assessments to continue justifying their positions?

This creates the perception of a generational acceptance of fraud, which while the nation's borders are closed is successful, but when exposed to a genuine competition, collapses in a heap.

In his last paragraph, Tony questions the integrity of the Minister and the department, and with this I have no disagreement, but I would also question the consistency of Tonys' postulation who has from my perspective written an article not as an objective critique, but to appease his gallery, this being the special interests groups at UTS and it would be much more honest of Tony if he admitted to this political bias.

The recent extravagant claims for a 25% pay rise , being justified only by comparing a teachers salary some years ago as 156% of the average wage , to currently 102% of the average in existing values is a furphy? To quote a recent article in Workers Online issue 182 "The Dead Couple" which mourned the seduction of the 'Harvester Judgement' by -'TINA'-?

It was this Judgement which was based on the facts that a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, in fact all the necessities of life cost all Australians the same, so the claims for more of the bread by many Teachers is 'Plain Greed' and 'Elitism'with the assumption that they are special, when in fact as all current Teachers have been educated in the free system they are double and treble dipping into the public purse.

The whole purpose of society educating its citizens is not, to increase personal wealth or feed the egos of spoilt brats who have always got their way through tantrums, but rather to serve the community, of which the greater number is the Nation.

In short the education budget should focus on; not the funding of personal ambition and or empire building, but education outcomes for those who pay the cost , and if those who have chosen a career in education are dissatisfied with their rewards then they are like all citizens free to pursue their dreams elsewhere .

Those who are currently paying for their education will of course, and with a clear conscience demand from a society, which has begrudgingly gave meagre assistance in their education, their due reward as will undoubtedly be commensurate with their skills and marketing ability.

But it would appear a few selfish free loading bastards in the education system are, to suit their own agenda forcing a fact track of CBT, and by this I refer to not Competency Based Training, but Computer Based Training, which even today could effectively replace face to face teaching in 75% of the education system, this has been tested in several areas, and it works.

This is an area where the Federal and State governments should act as one in the interests of the Nation by redirecting funding to removing all costs from students and or potential students rather than the payment of the dollars screwed from the ever increasing load on the shrinking base of taxpayer to the rapidly increasing education administration.

While I believe Australian egalitarianism is now a myth, and has been since the Whitlam years, the union movement and the Teachers Federation have used it as a tool in gleaning support from an increasingly cynical electorate, and if these teachers and their ilk are permitted to extract more from the public purse at the expense of the rest of society they can never again claim the high this moral ground of being the vanguard or even part of the community.

Call their bluff, and target educators for next years immigration quotas, with some new ideas in our education system, Australia's' fame may no longer lay on the Keating's prophesy of being;

"The Arse end of the World"


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