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Issue No. 207 22 December 2003  

Backs to the Wall
How does one judge a year like 2003, when on the surface the powers of darkness – read Bush and Howard and union-busting bosses - can point to the scoreboard and claim ‘we won!’?


Interview: Robbo’s Rules
Labor Council secretary John Robertson rules the line through 2003 and looks forward to a bigger and better year to come.

Unions: Fightback 2003
Tony Abbott, no less, summed up the tone of 2003 when he complained workers were frustrating his agenda, as Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: Madame Lash Whips Tony
Jim Marr explains how a local can manufacturer knocked off a quality field, including a notorious American call centre operator, in the race for Bad Boss honours.

Politics: United Front
Facing a new leader and new rules, Jim Marr speaks to key union players about the hot issues at January’s ALP National Conference.

Economics: Looking Back - Looking Forward
The year ends with the thought that 2004 must be better, writes Frank Stilwell in his annual review of all things economic.

International: Net Benefits
International editor Andrew Casey looks back on a year where workers stood up globally for services we once took for granted.

History: The New Guard
Who were Australia’s fascists in the 1930s and was John Howard’s father in the New Guard? Labour historian, Andrew Moore, uncovers some surprising information about Australia’s fascist past.

Poetry: What is the PM singing this Christmas?
Our Kirribilli spies, led by resident bard David Peetz, have been listening in on the PM's preparations for Christmas, and have recorded the Howard family rehearsing this new Christmas carol.

Review: Culture That Was
2003 saw the Howard Government signal its readiness to swap culture for agriculture in a free trade deal with the US and film maker George Miller lament that Aussie's had run out of stories to tell anyway, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 No Joy for ANZ - This Time

 Nurses, Teachers Win Big

 Govt Coy on Sackings Threat

 NSW: State of Discomfort

 Fashion Police Collar Moe

 Telstra Picks Up Union Signal

 E-Missiles Strike White House

 STOP PRESS: Doubts Over Driver Test

 Juggler Catches Union Gong

 Chubb Beats Up On Own Guards

 Commuters Face Long, Hot Summer

 MUA Members Play Santa

 Bennelong Grinch Strikes Again

 G’day To Union Made Wines

 Activists Notebook


The Guessing Game
We have consulted our regular list of mystics and gnostics to offer these throughts for the future.

Folk You Mate
Jan Nary looks at the role of workers songs in the upcoming National Folk Festival.

Shane Maloney – Crime Writer
For a crime writer whose books are set against a backdrop of unions and Labor Party politics, Shane Maloney confesses to little direct experience of either.

The Locker Room
Workers Online Sports Awards
Noel Hester and Peter Moss give their annual rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of sport.

The Web We Weave
Social Change Online's Mark McGrath's annual review of how unions are using the web to grow.

 Tom On Mark
 Looking The Otherway At Christmas
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Govt Coy on Sackings Threat

Fears of mass building industry sackings have been sparked by the arrival of anti-worker zealot, Derren Gillespie, at Federal Government’s Royal Commission Implementation Unit.

Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, did not respond to questions about whether his administration would again turn to Gillespie for the talents he brought to its 1998 showdown with the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia).

Gillespie was fingered as the public servant who provided advice relied on by former Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith, to endorse the wholesale sackings of unionised wharfies.

Federal Government lost control of that showdown when the public baulked at pictures of attack dogs on docks, and news that hand-picked scabs had been recruited from the Australian Defence Force and secretly trained in the Middle East.

After Gillespie was outed by journalists, Helen Trinca and Anne Davies in their book Waterfront: The Battle That Changed Australia, he was moved into what was officially described as an "administrative position" with Commissioner Terence Cole's Building Industry Royal Commission. That inquiry would be lashed by commentators as "flawed", "biased" and "anti-union".

Workers Online understands the Commission paid Gillespie a six-figure sum, and threw in a car, for his "administrative" talents.

Now, the Department of Workplace Relations website reveals, he has been handed a key position with the agency charged with implementing Royal Commission recommendations.

The vast majority of those recommendations go to attempting to break the strength of building industry unions, especially the CFMEU.

Key Liberal Party figures, including Andrews' Workplace Relations predecessor and Royal Commission architect, Tony Abbott, have spoken publicly of their intention to break the "power" of building unions.

Similar rhetoric was used before Reith green-lighted the assault on the MUA.

Andrews, last week, ducked direct questions about Gillespie's role with the Implementation Unit and whether or not his Government had considered mass dismissals in its bid to "tame" commercial construction.


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