|Issue No 20||02 July 1999|
Postcard from Piers?
Workers Online received a mysterious note this week, signed only "PA".
Dear Michael and Peter,
Thanks for suggesting the Transcendental Mediation course, for the first time in my life I feel like I'm thinking clearly. As I recite my mantra each morning a sweet warmth comes over me and I recognise that maybe I have stopped growing into the rich and full individual I could become.
As I was entering the state of transcendence this morning, overlooking the beautiful Pittwater bay, I started thinking about the way I have been processing my information in recent years. I began to worry: do I sometimes base my opinions on pre-conceived prejudices rather than judging each issue on its merits? Could I be seen by some as being a bit close-minded, one-dimensional even?
For example, I wonder if some people see me as being too quick to take a negative view against certain groups of the community like trade unions or land rights activists or feminists? Do I sometimes lack curiosity about what it is these people are trying to achieve? I would hate to think that I have inadvertently painted some people as stereotypes rather than striving to unravel the full complexity of the human condition.
Why, for instance, would I have run that awful piece about you Michael? Maybe I was a bit offended that you seemed to be putting me down on your web-site - but surely I could have taken the time to place myself in your shoes and realise you were just trying to have some good clean fun. And those horrible things I wrote about you, accusing you of drinking from doll's cups and being unfit for public office. I can only apologise. I'm more embarrassed to think of the way I linked that attack with a broader spray about everything you are trying to achieve: from a social audit to protection's for independent contractors. Again, I can only apologise.
To show this apology is genuine, I've decided it is time for me to change. I think it's time to challenge these stereotypes and begin to stand up for issues that really effect my readers. I know it's hard to make meaningful social improvements, but I think it's up to me to start doing my bit and go into news conference each day and argue the merits of what many trade unions are trying to achieve.
Sure, Col will tell me I'm going all soft - but I'll tell him how important it is to recognise that one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch. I'll tell him that if our newspaper showed a real commitment to working people by campaigning on their behalf we could actually improve their lives. Why not get behind them when they're thrown out of work, when they're spied on, when the boss makes them work longer hours, rather than running the line that its the unions that are the problem. I'll tell Col that it's all well and good to be the largest selling daily in Australia, but if we are not committed to improving our readers lives, then what point is there in being Number One?
I may even have to convince Col to run some stories looking at how trade unions are changing; how they're becoming more responsive to their members and are taking innovative approaches to protecting them as the global economy makes this more complex for everyone. Given all the bad stereotypes we've promoted in the past, maybe this could be a good first step in creating a meaningful debate about what is happening to our readers' working life.
Perhaps we could even go out on the job with some young organisers, maybe even a young woman to help break the stereotype that all unions officials are middle-aged men with beer guts. We could look at the hard work she does in standing up for her members, who are also our readers. Maybe by letting each reader know that their experiences in the workplace are not just their own, but shared by other workers, we could instil a sense of collectivity that would, indeed, challenge the orthodoxy that job insecurity is a fact of modern life.
This isn't going to be easy; but I've decided the time has come to make a stand for goodness. After all, what's the point in wasting your life away taking potshots at the people who are trying to improve society. I should become one of them. This could really be a full and rewarding experience. I can't wait to get back from holidays. By the way, can you get MEAA to send me a membership form?
Look forward to working with you and the union movement closely on my return.
Interview: They’re Not All Bastards
The Australian Industry Group’s Roger Boland is one employer representative who believes trade unions will continue to play an important role in the economy - and society - of the future.
Unions: Always the Pay is No Good
Fair Wear's campaign for clothing industry homeworkers is changing the way we think about consuming.
History: A Refreshing Advance
Women workers organising in the NSW Rail and Tramways Department Refreshment Rooms in the 1920s.
International: MAI Back on the Agenda
After being ditched in the wake of an international cyber-protest, the World Trade Organisation is trying to salvage the MAI from the ashes.
International: Courage Against the Odds
A Cuban trade union leader urges for a 30 year blockade to be lifted, with a fundraiser to be held this Thursday.
Review: Without You I'm Nothing
British pop music doesnt come any better than Placebo.
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LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/20/d_pierswatch_postcard.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005