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Issue No. 242 15 October 2004  

Historical Revisions
It was a common refrain on Saturday night as we cried in our beers, hurled vitriol at the TV set and wondered how big the shellacking would be this time around: Howard won on a lie.


Interview: The Last Bastian
AMWU state secretary Paul Bastian has been at the centre of the three year battle to bring James Hardie to account.

Unions: High and Dry
Jim Marr unpacks the recent High Court Electrolux decision to test whether the ruling matches the media hype.

Security: Liquid Borders
The Howard Government loves to trumpet its national security credentials but a close look at its record in shipping sinks the myth argues MUAís Zoe Reynolds.

Industrial: No Bully For You
Phil Doyle reports on how bringing dignity and respect to the workplace is undermining bullies.

History: Radical Brisbane
Radical Brisbane extends the 'Radical City' series into the Red North. Two experienced activists, academics and writers turn South East Queensland history on its head.

International: No Vacancies
More than 1400 hotel union workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, are on strike at four major hotels in San Francisco, California, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Life After Capitalism
A situation that all anarchists dream of? Michael Albert has been more than dreaming., writes Neale Towart

Technology: Cyber Winners
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks at a good news story of global online campaigning that has delivered a victory.

Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Teaser: Wondering why the polls are all over the place? Ask our resident bard and psephologist.

Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Voice of Southern Labor highlights the role music played in the 1930's US textile strikes, but more than that it provides a lucid insight into the roots of modern capitalism and some truly organic organising, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Donít Worry, Be Organised

 Senate Faces Family Fight

 Cheques Cashed In Seconds

 "Undemocractic" Taskforce Court Out

 Power to People: On Hold

 Eyes Have It Over Lotto

 Bomb in Santaís Sack

 No Picnic in Park

 Smoking Loophole A Bit Rich

 BlueScope Workers Take Stock

 ABC Radio Clash

 Melbourne Goes Global

 No Justice for Joel

 Mercury Falling in Hobart

 Last Gasp for Monitoring

 Kiddie Photos Victory

 Thousands Up for Grabs

 Activists What's On!


True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues Itís Time Ė for an IR reality check.

The Westie Wing
Much work has been done in the past to ease the plight of clothing outworkers in New South Wales. It's time to step up the pressure, as sweatshops and clothing contract work are thriving stronger than ever, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Who Started the Class War?
Evan Jones looks across the Australian political landscape and asks who are the real class warriors?

The Locker Room
First Past The Post
Phil Doyle is coming up in class and is all the better for recent racing

Westie Wing
Our favourite state MP returns for his monthly Macquarie Street wrap.

Positive Action
Australian unionists are helping give hope to Filipino workers living with HIV/AIDS.

 Giving Your Soul Away
 Invest in Dignity Part III
 You Need Help
 Medicare Woes
 Whose Party Is It Anyway?
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Donít Worry, Be Organised

NSW Labor Council is hosing down fears of the end of the workplace as we know it.

Secretary John Robertson says unions have 10 clear months to organise resistance to the legislative assault expected from a strengthened Coalition Government.

Prime Minister John Howard went to the electorate, last Saturday, making no secret of his plan to gree-light unfair sackings at workplaces with less than 20 employees; restrict the ability of unions to visit members; introduce compulsory secret ballots; promote individual agreements; and increase the powers of his building industry taskforce.

But, buoyed by the unexpected scale of the Coalition's success, urgers and tuggers from the Hard Right are backing Howard to go on with the job and eliminate collectivism from Australian workplaces.

Leading the chorus have been Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry head, Peter Hendy, and Institute for Private Enterprise director, Des Moore.

Moore, a confidante of leading Liberals including fellow HR Nicholls Society member Peter Costello, summed-up the wish-list in one paragraph this week.

"Union privileges - such as entry rights, picketing and the right to inspect books - should be abolished, as should the unfair dismissals regime, across the board, and the right to strike should be repealed," Moore told the Age newspaper.

Sydney University's John Buchanan, warns eight years of Howard leadership have already pushed Australia to the far right of the industrial spectrum - out beyond New Zealand and, even, the US.

"Employers can essentially pick and choose whether they negotiate with a union or not," Buchanan said. "There is no other country in the western world where that happens so, even before this election, Australia was a bit of a freak on the world stage.

"If we break down the remaining edifice, we will become a real social laboratory for quite extreme free market ideas, I think."

But Robertson says a renewal process, built around stronger community ties, has been strengthening unions and expanding their support base.

"It's not all doom and gloom. When we are confronted with these challenges, the union movement is at its best," he said. "We are in a better position than we were four or five years ago.

"We have another 10 months before the new Senate is even in place so we won't be panicked into any rash responses."

Robertson says unions will assess the final make-up of the Senate and enter into dialogue with key members. If that be Family First, he says, unions have a persuasive argument to put to them.'

Robertson says the renewal process of recent years has seen unions emerge as champions of family friendly policies, and highlighted the threat to families posed by greater insecurity and reduced entitlements.

He has already held discussions with Premier, Bob Carr, about the practicality of NSW becoming a "safe haven" for organisations prepared to walk away from the federal IR system.

"We have our differences in NSW but, together, we have built a system based on co-operation rather than confrontation. And it works," Robertson said.

"This is not a time for panic. We need to work together, strategically, to defend our members and their families. It will be a difficult period for Australian workers but we have time and experience on our side.

"The labour movement has been around for 100 years and seen governments of all persuasions come and go. While this one may be one of the most difficult, I'm confident we will see it off as well.

Robertson said the real threat to worker organisation could be internal. A return to demarcation arguments and one-out adventurism, he warned, would leave "us dead in the water".


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