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Issue No. 206 05 December 2003  

A New Mark for Labor
Few of us who care about the future of the labour movement would not admit to a surge of hope and sense of excitement following the election of Mark Latham to the federal parliamentary leadership.


Interview: Muscling Up
Labor�s Craig Emerson discusses how the changes to his party�s leadership will impact on the industrial relations agenda.

Unions: Thinking Pink
What�s the difference between a Nursing Home and an Aged Care Facility? More than semantics, according to nurses worried Australia is woefully unprepared for the crash at the end of the baby-boom cycle, writes Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Global Bully
If nothing else, US-based call centre giant TeleTech is consistent. After being nosed out of last year�s Bad Boss gong it is back, bigger and badder than ever in its search for Tony honours.

Unions: National Focus
In this national round up by Noel Hester, Hugh McKay tells us how the young are sticking together in a bewildered society, the gongs get handed out at the ACTU awards and there is a chance to win as a worthy wordsmith.

Economics: Friend or Flunkey?
On New Years Day as you look at the wine stains and tread on a soggy puddle on the carpet, will you look for the phone and call a cleaner? Gabrielle Meagher gives a few ethical dilemmas to confront before you make that call.

History: Young Blood
Youth is no barrier to political leadership, as the 37-year-old John Watson proved 100 years ago, writes Neale Towart.

Industrial: Living For Work?
Mark Hearn reports from a recent conference addressing the dilemma of work, citizenship and community.

International: Fighting Together
The international trade union movement is launching a Global Unions HIV/AIDS campaign to combat the spread of the virus.

Poetry: Medicare Plus Blues
Is the Government's new health plan a plus for Medicare? Asks resident bard David Peetz

Review: Human Racing
Seabiscuit is a great horse movie but more than that it serves as a powerful metaphor for the importance of living for the future while maintaining passion and compassion in the present, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Peeking Dicks in Pickle

 Lights Out on Cheap Labour

 Blackout Hangs Over Sydney

 Contractors Hang Up on Telstra

 Uni Workers Too Smart For Minister

 Employer Bullies Vie For �Tony�

 South Coast Deal to Build Movement

 TeleTech Safety Rep Vows to Fight On

 Corporates Urged to Come Clean

 MP Too Busy For Teachers

 Bosses Block Good Shops Code

 Engineers Ground Safety System

 Workers Win At Safety Meet

 Merger Threats

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Dear John
In his 500th piece of activist journalism, long-term Workers Online contributor Rowan Cahill sends a personal message to our prime Minister.

The Locker Room
Retired Hurt
Every innings comes to an end, some too soon, and others not soon enough, writes Phil Doyle.

Wedge Watch
Labor's Craig Emerson puts the spotlight on the Howard Government's politics of division.

The Westie Wing
Workers Friend Ian West MLC is back with his monthly round-up from Macquarie Street.

 Feds Ignore Building Deaths
 Bob Gould On Kicking The Liberals Out
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A New Mark for Labor

Few of us who care about the future of the labour movement would not admit to a surge of hope and sense of excitement following the election of Mark Latham to the federal parliamentary leadership.

Without doubt this is a bold decision to move to a new generation of leadership, to a man with few formal ties to the trade union movement, who has built his reputation on framing a 'Third Way' political roadmap, that sometimes smacks of a cross between the Fourth Dimension and the Second Coming.

Workers Online readers should be no stranger to Latham. We've interviewed him, argued with him and stuck him in the Tool Shed, but we've always found him frank, fearless and prepared to have a go.

For those who are fast to paint Mark Latham as right-wing and anti-union it is worth flicking through our interviews with him in Issues 10 and 96.

What these conversations show is that Latham is committed to an ongoing role for unions, one of the few working examples of the mutuality that he sees as the engine room of a functioning society.

He advocates unions operating closer to the workplace, rather than as big, monolithic institutions - a position totally consistent with the approach a large number of unions have adopted.

He believes the amalgamations of the late nineties were the 'wrong call' - an opinion that is increasingly being seen as mainstream within the union movement.

And his disdain for the factional system within the ALP and his desire to cut through outmoded ideological lines would gain growing support amongst unions, sick of cancelling out each others power for their factional masters.

In the Latham world view, government should be seeking partnerships with organised communities, who drive the agenda from the grassroots, rather than simply an institutional provider of services.

It is a model that fits well with modern unionism, empowering and resourcing groups of workers to make their lives better, rather than delivering centralised one size fits all approaches from on high.

Workers Online has never been shy to bag a Labor MP, indeed it is an important part of our brief in creating a voice for unions within the movement and the broader community.

But it is rarer that we give the ALP a wrap. So here it is. Federal Labor with Mark Latham in charge, the hard-hitting Craig Emerson in IR, and the likes of Julia Gillard, Lindsay Tanner and Kevin Rudd in the engine room is beginning to look like a team worth barracking for.

Yes, there will be debate and disagreement about policy, but the sense that the seven-year period of political hibernation is at last coming to an end is worth celebrating.

Our call to the union movement is to re-embrace Labor, after all, we have nothing to lose but the Howard Government.

Peter Lewis


This will be the last regular Workers Online for the year. Our Holiday Special will be posted in the week before Christmas.


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