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Issue No. 190 08 August 2003  

Border Protection
The High Courtís decision that Australian labour laws should apply to cargo ships plying our shores could be the first shot in the fight back against the excess of corporate globalisation.


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 monthís 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.


 Legal Missile Holes Ships of Shame

 Labour Rights Threaten Trade Deal

 Workers Sharpen Community Clause

 "Puppet" Sparks Appeals

 FiFo, FiFo Ė Out the Gate We Go

 SRA Chief Off The Rails

 Qantas: Long Lunches on Rocks

 Water Crisis a Mist for Sell-Off

 Aussies Enter Karoshi Zone

 Combet Flies Ansett Plan

 Westfield Workers Seek Clean Start

 Rubber Workers Stretch Bridgestone

 Workers Art in Broken Hill

 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.

 Workplace Bullying
 Casual TAFE
 Wage Rise
 The Fifth Column
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Border Protection

The High Courtís decision that Australian labour laws should apply to cargo ships plying our shores could be the first shot in the fight back against the excess of corporate globalisation.

This is the case of the Australian seafarers who barricaded themselves on board the CSL Yarra, a ship running freight between Australian ports, when their Canadian owners re-flagged the ship to the Bahamas and announced it would replace its workforce with Ukranians who would be paid Third World wages.

The High Court this week ruled that workers, employed directly and exclusively to service Australia, should have the benefit of Australian award wages and conditions.

In doing so, the High Court has blown the whistle on the creep of free trade, which has seen the jobs of Australian factory workers, clothing workers, IT workers and even call centre workers exported to nations where the absence of an award safety net makes their wages significantly lower.

If the maritime unions had lost this case, how long would it have been before hotels, building developments and resource companies were also seeking exemptions?

The decision should not be overstated but it is significant for a few things: (i) our highest court has found there are limits to the global labour market and (ii) our national government argued vehemently that this shouldn't be the case.

To those of us who were sickened by the base wedge politics of the last federal election it is a bitter irony that the Howard Government is such a champion of economic globalisation.

Indeed, in bilateral talks with the US it has been Howard who has been blocking the Bush Administration's albeit reluctant push for the incorporation of global labour standards.

During the last federal election campaign, the MUA ran some newspaper advertisements that asked the simple question: "why does John Howard want to keep one boat out and let all the others in?"

Like so much of that campaign, the message was swamped by the mass hysteria induced by the Howard Government's campaign to 'secure our borders'.

He illegally blockaded the Tampa, fabricated the children overboard affair and lay doggo while more than 300 asylum seekers drowned.

But the words ring true long after the panic of northern invasion from terrorists evaporated into the whiff of political rhetoric that it always was.

The fraud of John Howard is that while he makes great play of keeping our borders protected from foreigners, he actively supports companies that want to export our jobs offshore.

He knows that the Australian people want a government to stand up against the global tide for them. He's just tricked them into thinking the enemy is couple of thousand desperate refugees and not the corporate order that now rules the global markets.

While the debate over the benefits of free trade has its pros and cons, one thing is clear: core global labour standards need to be incorporated into all trade agreements. That is, only companies that do not use child labour, do not use slave labour and give their workers the basic right to organise should be allowed to trade with Australia.

It should not be contentious; that it is highlights the triumph of the Right in deifying the market.

It is this debate, more than any other, that could define the upcoming triennial ACTU Conference. It will be interesting to see how far the union movement is prepared to push labour's political wing to create a set of trade rules that give Australian workers what the High Court seems to recognise they deserve: a fighting chance.

Peter Lewis



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