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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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Juggler Catches Union Gong

Just a few years out of producing kids’ shows for companies like Nintendo and David Jones, Paul Morris has been named NSW union organiser of the year.

It sounds like a qualitative career leap but the USU mover and shaker can see some similarities.

"The thing about event management is that you have to keep a lot of balls in the air and organising can be like that too, especially around call centres," Morris says.

It was life in a Virgin Mobile call centre that alerted the 31-year-old to the collective route.

Morris was elected job delegate by workmates and spearheaded a campaign for union recognition and against take-them or leave-them AWAs.

His work convinced USU officials to bring him on board and he has concentrated on organising call centres, often greenfields sites.

Morris has been a key player in helping the USU move from zero to a significant presence in TeleTech, a multinational with an international reputation for anti-unionism.

His efforts have seen the emergence of on-site activists, including James Woodcock, currently spearheading the fight against second generation AWAs, and award-winning safety rep Jerry Gambacorta.

He has also helped establish a union presence in American Express call centres.

Morris hailed his recognition as proof that the trade union movement recognised it needed to penetrate the new economy.

Labor Council judges also recognised the work of up-and-coming CFMEU organiser, Joe Brcic, another new-generation activist bringing fresh methods to his work.

The 29-year-old father of five signed up nearly 500 new members during 2003 in the traditional low union density St George-Sutherland region of Sydney. He has also been successful in winning more than $150,000 in underpaid wages and entitlements for members in the area.

Brcic has also taken to the CFMEU's strategy of community organising. He and his receipt book are familiar sights at home games of both the Sydney United and Sydney Olympic soccer clubs and he is accepted as a supporter of both.

He has encouraged and supported CFMEU members at newly-unionised Hi-Trade to fundraise for community causes. This year they raised $38,000 and brought a ventilator for St George Hospital and donated another $15,000 to the Backstop programme for families in crisis.


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