||Issue No. 205||28 November 2003|
Australia Deserves Better
Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
Unions: Joel's Law
National Focus: Spring Carnival
Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
Industrial: The Price of War
Economics: Who's Got What
History: Containing Discontent
Review: An Honourable Wally
Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A Tale Of Three Cities
Australia Deserves Better
In a Sydney call centre a safety representative is frog-marched off the premises for assessing the impact of long shifts on worker fatigue.
In South Australia a lone meatworker is locked out of his job for 10 weeks because he refuses to sign an individual contract.
In the Hunter Valley, armed security guards hired by an American multinational threaten violence against locked out workers fighting for their right to collective bargain.
Across the nation the recipe for the majority is longer hours at work, fewer permanent jobs, spiralling health care costs and a mean-spiritedness driven by the suspicion that someone else just might be getting a better deal than they are.
This is John Howard's Australia, a retro land where the employer is a master and the worker is a unit of labour, a number on a balance sheet, something less than human.
Beneath the cloak of terror, racism, sycophancy and social divisiveness that drives Howard's politics of the wedge, lies a hidden, more cynical attack on workers' rights.
Under the fist of Reith and Abbott, this government has embarked on an orgy of union-busting that has one simple objective - to drive labour costs down to maximise profits for the one stakeholder in our society that still has clout - the market.
Whoever takes the reins of the federal ALP after Tuesday's ballot must do so recognising that this is the security that most Australians crave - not security from a few boatloads of desperate refugees, but security from the cynical short-termism of global capital.
Workers are not calling for revolution, but they are calling for a leader who will blow full-time on what increasingly seems like a race to the bottom.
They want a government that protects our national borders without giving up our cultural sovereignty to another country.
They want a government that supports public health and education because they believe in the idea that we all have equal rights, rather than because they fear a public backlash if they hand it over to the corporates.
And they want a government that knows that if we are to have a cohesive society we need to respect each other, and that this begins with fair laws governing the workplace.
It's hardly a manifesto, just government for the people - and its about 180 degrees form what Howard has got away with serving up these past seven years.
It's not the Australian Labor Party that needs a fresh beginning, it's the people of Australia.
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