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. 189 01 August 2003  

The Secret Life of Us
The fact that casual workers are too scared to come forward and testify about the need for job security seems to prove their basic point � no matter how long or how well you work, you can never feel safe in your job.


Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month�s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Tough Women Draw Line at Sacking

 Witness Protection Urged on IRC

 Max Swings Axe at Safety

 Sick Twist in Drug Testing

 Sacked Mum Goes to the Top

 Cuts Sour ADB Birthday Bash

 Howard Enlists Russians for Military

 Vic Workcover Invests in Worker Misery

 Public Hole in Power Shortage

 Whistleblower Sacking Sparks Zoo Walkout

 Truckie With Conscience Wins Back Job

 Indigenous Labour honours Tobler

 Asbestos Blocks Liverpool Road Works

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.

 Bullies in the Ranks
 It Is Still About The Members Isn't It
 Tom's Purpose
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



The Secret Life of Us

The fact that casual workers are too scared to come forward and testify about the need for job security seems to prove their basic point � no matter how long or how well you work, you can never feel safe in your job.

In an era where more workers are employed at the day to day whim of an employer, or increasingly, a labour hire company the notion of stepping up and telling the world what's going on at work has never been as intimidating.

As someone whose job is to get union stories covered in the media, I know there is a real thirst and demand for 'real workers' to illustrate stories about the modern workplace.

But it's becoming a big ask. To speak out is increasingly seen not as an act of principle, but an act of stupidity.

That's because any worker who does speak out knows they will be branded a trouble-maker, have their hours cut back or simply taken off the roster.

All of which make young women like Megan Colman and Rachel Hodges, who have taken strike action in support of their manager who was sacked for refusing to cut staff numbers, all the more courageous.

As for the young zoo worker who raised issues of management impropriety while on probation, she should be being congratulated rather than looking for another job.

Understandably though, these young women are the exceptions that prove the rule.

At a time when we routinely send troops overseas in the name of freedom, we seem to have surrendered our voices of dissent in the workplace.

While individuals, like bank manager Joy Buckland, have won in the courts after being disciplined for talking to the media, a system where individuals have to take further action to assert their rights is hardly an option.

The end point must be legally enforceable rights to speak up on workplace issues, fundamental rights that override any confidentiality clauses in employment contracts, recognising that freedom of speech can't be traded away.

But a great starting point would be a strong statement from the NSW Industrial Relations Commission that casual workers who give evidence in the Secure Employment Test case will do so knowing they are safe from retribution.

If it doesn't, the prospect of getting a real picture of the impact of economic policies on our working lives will remain seriously diminished and with it working lives of decent families will remain a secret battle.

Peter Lewis



*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 189 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