The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 187 18 July 2003  

Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts
Thanks to advances in technology, workers are being asked to expose more and more of themselves to their employer: their emails, their genes, even their urine.


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


 Authority Shafts Excessive Mine Hours

 Insurance Quiz: Money or the Baby?

 Monk Lined up with Jihad Masters

 Rat in Ranks, Tubner Warns

 Hard Drug Stance Stoned

 Vote Snooping Bosses Out of House

 Termination Battle Hots Up

 US Actors Back Aussie Comrades

 TAFE Students Called to Arms

 Teachers Caught in Family Feud

 Longer Strikes Spark Picket Code

 Max Sets Athens as Airport Standard

 Indigenous First for Construction

 Call Centre Jobs Diverted From Delhi

 Activist 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

 Feedback on Feedback
 Sid Einfield Would be Proud
 Tom in the Manger
 Sermon on the Mount
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees


Letters to the Editor

Tom in the Manger

Tom Collins has been at it again. He's suffered under the lash of economic rationalism inflicted by "Labor" governments and (quite rightly) resents it bitterly, but seems to object when anyone actually tries to do something about it. This time he's turning his florid rhetoric on Tony Brown, who has written an effective, if somewhat pedestrian, critique of Andrew Refshauge's plan for NSW education.

When Tom isn't trying to change the subject through ad hominem or terminological arguments, he's often making a wordy confession of his political tendencies or saying things that are just plain wrong. For instance, he alleges that " 'Lifelong Learning' is essentially an organisational restructure, but not aimed at cutting 1000 jobs but using the 'Human Resources' more effectively." Now, is Tom saying that the 1000 jobs won't be going? He then progresses to saying that, since the PSA & the Teachers Federation haven't fought against economic rationalism to his satisfaction before, they should be left to suffer it themselves now. This "dog in the manger" attitude is no way out of the economic rationalist treadmill.

Much of the rest of his rant is a succession of libels of teachers. He's careful, of course, to steer clear of schoolteachers (i.e. the people with whom most readers would be familiar), but conjures up images of vast numbers of baddies hiding out in TAFE and Adult Education. Colourful terms like "useless as a eunuch's testicles", "parasites on the public purse", "elite middle class welfare bludgers", "allegedly educated sponger never having worked" etc , are calculated to play to the prejudices of those who respond to their own positions of hardship by deciding that all other workers should suffer as well - or more so. The dog, it seems, quite firmly ensconced in the manger.

Tom, however, takes things further than mere insults. Despite his protestations of supporting Labor, he admits that "if it takes a Howard government to stand up to the intimidation of the PSA or the Teachers Federation, then 'So Mote it be'!" When workers stand up for their jobs, it seems, they are to be regarded as "intimidating" their employer, something so intolerable that Tom would prefer the most Right-wing Tory government in most people's lifetimes in order to stand up to them.

Finally (but only after passing over the multitude of other debatable points in his letter), it is necessary to correct Tom on the point of "socialist economic rationalism". The term is an oxymoron worthy of the greatest romantic poets, since according to any reasonable definition of terms, socialism and economic rationalism are mutually incompatible. The "socialists" he names are Hawke & Keating, who actually earned their stripes waging war on the Left in the labour movement. Hawke fought the Left in the unions, while Keating did it in the NSW ALP, both as open opponents of socialism. This is not to say, however, that those opponents were socialists, because while many of them called what they believed in by the name of socialism, there was only ever a handful which were not entirely incorrect on this point.

What gave Tom the boot from his last ongoing job (& gave him so much free time to compose his Right-wing essays) and is facing the working class as a whole is not socialism, but economic rationalism - the contemporary face of Australian capitalism. Both the Liberal Party & the Amateur Liberal Party are firmly committed to it, while nobody else in Parliament, State or Federal, has a viable alternative. It is up to the workers, by organising in their workplaces, to create that alternative - but we're not going to get far if we pay any attention to Tom Collins.

Greg Platt


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 187 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online