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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 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.


 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

 Printer’s 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
 Tom’s History Of The World
 Tony Is A Tool
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Letters to the Editor

Tom’s History Of The World

Dear Sir,

The letter „Misplaced Trust „in issue 192 of Workers Online caught my attention - not through lack of empathy with the complainant, but rather an overwhelming, pervasive and unrepentant contempt and revulsion as once again a parasite having reciprocally fed on the collective (Unions) with their host to the exclusion of the collective for 25 years now pleads and bleats about rights which they obviously and voluntarily have abrogated through a long term mutually satisfying relationship.

It is self evident from this recurrent and pathetic cry from the Œfoxhole‚ of life, that Union membership was not a priority to the likes of these industrially licentious lice during their referred to , 25 years of employment and contentment , and my assumption is ; that until this forced reality, any mention of joining a Union would have be met with ridicule.

It was this letter which brought back memories of a sermon I attended in 1997 at the 400 old years Killinchy Presbyterian Church while on a visit to Ireland .A sermon, although in the genre of the benefits of Comradeship , and not specific to Trade Unions; I found quite relevant to the state of the Union movement not only in Australia, but world wide.

The Valley of the Dry Bones:

In a vision God caused. Ezekiel to see himself in a valley full of dry bones. Perhaps it was a field of battle where years ago the Babylonians had defeated the Jews. It must have been a terrible defeat because the passage says; the valley was full of dry bones. Each of those skeletons had once been a human being who had lived just as you and I now live with hopes and fears and plans and expectations. But a great and terrible battle had been fought; they had been defeated and killed, and now all that was left was bleached, dry bones.

Is this not an accurate description of the current state of the Unions within Australia; in disarray as the Mad Monk and the Howard machine like the Great Nothingness relentlessly ravages the Unions?

It would not be difficult for any battler to understand this vision. We know about valleys of dry bones. We have all been there. The 1998 Maritime Battle caused some to see only dry bones where once there had been vitality and life in the Union. Sometimes we enter a valley of dry bones when the doctor tells us our cancer cannot be cured. Or maybe we have invested years of effort in some project or dream or career, and then things beyond our control happen, and the project falls apart; the dream is destroyed; the career is ended by redundancies, and we find ourselves in the midst of a valley of dry bones. The loss of a significant relationship can leave us wandering in a valley of dry bones. Sometimes what happens is the consequence of what we did or what we failed to do.

Sometimes it is the consequence of what others did or failed to do. Sometimes we do not know why all that has happened has happened. All we know is, for us, in Australia our situation in life is like a valley of dry bones , this danger being exacerbated through the shameless cannibalistic behaviors of many of those who have usurped the will of the members through electoral rorting and Branch stacking .

This is where your correspondent Jenny and family have found themselves, and in their case, while I have complete empathy, I can offer no sympathy or compassion, as this would only serve to encourage the proliferation of comparable cockroaches, and I suggest they seek consolation in their acceptance as to the moral of this tale of woe, as the inexorable law of action is invoked 'as ye sow, so shall ye reap.

The Rev. Martin Niemoller a German Lutheran Pastor imprisoned by the Nazis, articulated how we bring these calamities upon ourselves when we refuse to speak out against tyranny no matter what face and to whom it presents itself to us:

First they came for the Communists, and I didn‚t speak up, because I wasn‚t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn‚t speak up, because I wasn‚t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn‚t speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

Tom Collins


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