||Issue No. 219||07 May 2004|
The Mouse That Roars
Interview: Machine Man
Unions: Testing Times
Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
Unions: Badge of Honour
National Focus: Noel's World
Economics: Safe Refuge
International: Global Abuse
History: The Honeypot
Review: Death And The Barbarians
Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Justice For Victims Denied
The Mouse That Roars
It might be true that some of us in the union movement got a little caught in the dot.com hype when we first discovered the internet - who can forget the energy expended (wasted?) during the Virtual Communities - Getonboard wars?
But like most other players on the web, unions are now starting to recognise it as a communications tool rather than as an end in itself.
Take the Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, who this week launched their JetSafe campaign against the new low-cost carrier's decision to dispose of their members' expertise.
As most low-cost air bookings are made over the net, the LAMEs decided to hit JetStar there - registering its own site at http://www.jetsafe.com.au , to give their side of the argument.
To get eyeballs to the site the LAMEs have combined the real world and the virtual - bold billboards at the entrance to major airports plus a cheeky Google advertising campaign that sees a link to their site come up whenever the words Jet Star' are entered.
The result - national media coverage and more than 20,000 visitors to the site in just a week - not a bad result for a pretty slim budget.
Similar thinking is behind the LHMU's child care campaign - although the target here is Treasurer Peter Costello and his ability to deliver decent wages to child care workers by given them a little slice of his massive budget surplus.
Supporters are asked to send a message to Costello, his chief of staff and the Head of Treasury, via a template sitting on the LHMU site - http://www.lhmu.org.au
The LHMU has backed the campaign by hiring a number of internet cafes in marginal electorates and inviting members and supporters to the café to send off the protest. And if you are tempted to do a Google search for Costello - you'll also get the chance to send him the child care message.
The outbreak in web activism shows that the gospel according to Labourtstart's Eric Lee is being read by more and more people. Lee has been in Australia and New Zealand this month for a number of workshops highlighting the benefits of international campaigning.
Hotel workers employed by the Raffles chain against Asian hospitality workers are running a global campaign for support through the International Union of Foodworkers - http://www.iuf.org .
Previous campaigns against global hotel chains have proven to be particularly successful - witness last year's Hilton campaign,; notably because of the importance of the global brand.
We suspect it is the protection of a brand that is also behind this month's Bad Boss - labour hire firm Free Spirit's sudden and mysterious disappearance from the web after the details of an immigration scam broke.
All evidence that while the web and internet campaigning is in no way some panacea to the problems of workers worldwide - it is more than a fad; it is becoming an increasingly valuable campaigning tool.
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