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Issue No. 193 29 August 2003  

Smells Like Community Spirit
Over the past view weeks Labor Council has been undertaking some focus groups to gauge community perceptions to unions. The result is a massive wake up call for those of us who want a union culture to survive into the 21st century.


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.


 Iranians Expelled Over Teen Affair

 IR Promises Crash on Motorway

 Telstra Pigs Out on Indian

 Teachers Fight Casual Attitude

 Superstars in EBA Showdown

 Sink One with Billy

 Abbott Asked to Consider Honesty

 Printerís Win Drink Stink

 WorkCover To Take Robbery Seriously

 Power Blackouts Expose Jobs Shortage

 Qantas Woes Set To Soar

 Sports Workers Walk

 Bigger Money Player Equals Job Cuts

 Indonesian Human Rights Appeal

 Activists 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.

 A Nice Letter
 Tomís History Of The World
 Tony Is A Tool
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Smells Like Community Spirit

Over the past view weeks Labor Council has been undertaking some focus groups to gauge community perceptions to unions. The result is a massive wake up call for those of us who want a union culture to survive into the 21st century.

While the groups are still being analysed, a few things are clear. First, it's not that people are anti-union; it's that people, particularly younger workers, have no concept of what we are at all. More depressingly, most believe that they, and only they will look after their own interests.

On one reading this is a triumph of American culture - we see ourselves as individuals who don't need a community to protect us. If we have a problem, we move on; we start again. After all noone else will care about us.

If there is a single barrier to unions rebuilding it must be this breakdown in the notion of community, individuals as members of inter-related groups.

In this context, the launch this week of new community radio station Fbi is a small step back. After ten years struggle, the volunteers behind the station have secured a licence is broadcasting on the fm band at 95.4.

Fbi's brief is to play 50 per cent Australian content and 25 per cent Sydney content - a commitment to local artists which recognises music as more than just a commodity, more a part of our collective lives.

Labor Council is proud to have supported Fbi because we see its mission as similar to our's: creating a culture of community through which anything - even industrial strength - is possible.

FBi won't be Radio Pravda, or anything of an overt political ilk. But it will assert some basic values: notably the importance of local community and local voices in the face of the global imperatives that drive Britney Spears and Geoff Dixon to dumb down very different business operations in search of the bottom line.

Cultural Hansonism you say? Scratch the surface and you'll find the opposite. More an optimism that people working together can create their own rules, their own space and maybe even realise their own dreams.

FBi may just be one of those avenues that makes young people more open to collective responses to their problems at work.

And for us old farts, there's always Billy Bragg.

Peter Lewis



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