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Issue No. 203 14 November 2003  

Beyond the Workplace
The NSW union movementís intervention this week into the debate over the future of public transport is an important step in redefining what unions are all about.


Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. Itís all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.


 Hamberger Bad for Kids

 BHP Faces UN Sanction

 Hardie Shareholders Face Death

 Road Workers Swing Left-Right Blows

 Joy Battles Goode at ANZ

 Developers To Kick Transport Can

 ACTU Names Its Price

 Death By A Thousand Cuts

 Ban Holes Water Police Deal

 Cleaners Mop Up Contracts Mess

 Workers Entitlements Dumped

 Overtime Goes Bush

 Libs Push Lawyers Picnic

 Unions Set To Stand Up To Bullies

 Jack Thompson Headlines Launch

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and heís taking his bat and going home.

The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the Ďcreative partnershipí between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

 Burma Up In Smoke
 Super Solidarity
 Perils Of Pauline
 Put A PM On The Barbie
 Tom Holds Water
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Beyond the Workplace

The NSW union movementís intervention this week into the debate over the future of public transport is an important step in redefining what unions are all about.

While there are several thousand union members employed providing transport services, the vision of the report commissioned by the Labor Council and transport unions goes way beyond wages and conditions.

Their's is an agenda that looks at the way the transport system impacts on the lives of every worker in the state

- how they get to work and get back home, how much time they spend with families, their stress levels, their general health.

What the report, prepared by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, shows is that governments make decisions that affect our lives in such fundamental ways guided by a narrow view of the public interest.

While the Carr Government applies a crude economic analysis to determine whether the system is cost-effective, unions join the community in demanding a broader vision.

Our challenge is to shift the transport debate from being about a problem to be solved to looking at how to enhance this valuable public asset.

It's an important shift to make. In the problem model, rail services are cut because they cost money, new projects are shelved and more toll roads are 'privately built to meet our transport needs'.

But if we use the asset model, we invest in regional rail because it strengthens communities, we encourage workers to use public transport because it makes our air cleaner and we realise that for every bum on a train seat there's one fewer driver clogging our city arteries.

We invest in public transport and we fund it through our taxers, targeting those who benefit from the billions ploughed into road: including the developers whose projects add to the demands on our infrastructure every year.

The message is loud and clear: NSW has a choice - a connected series of communities, with public investment and strategic planning; or a series of wastelands where the private motor vehicle is the only transport option.

In leading this debate unions are staking out a broader agenda than the workplace - an agenda that should over time move into housing, health, education.

Working people don't just need a bargaining agent, they a need an advocate for their interests in an era when big business and compliant governments with deficit fetishes run the world.

Peter Lewis



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