The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 243 22 October 2004  

The Perfect Storm
The storm clouds are gathering on the industrial horizon, an unholy trinity of a hostile legislative agenda, a radical High Court decision and emboldened employers.


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 MUAs 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.


 Hardie Rewards Asbestos Rats

 Kentucky Fried Kids

 Miner Shafts Democracy

 Fine Drop in Ocean of Blood

 Sydney Water Outsources Brains

 Head Injuries to No Injuries

 Bosses Celebrate with Sack-athon

 Kangaroo Strikebreakers Spotlighted

 Officers Change Customs

 Union Backs League

 Carr Trouble At Port Botany

 Pratt Backs Warwick Farm Loser

 Students Fight Summer Blues

 Activists What's On!


True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues Its Time 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.

 Historical Reversion?
 Whose prosperity?
 Shop Till the Worker Drops
 Unreported Views
 Bobs Silver Anniversary
 Hit And Myth
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees


Letters to the Editor

Historical Reversion?

Your October 15 editorial, "Historical Revisions", said "for the union movement the challenge is to reclaim our positive agenda". This cannot be done by, as you suggest, owning "the tremendous economic achievements" and "the reforms" of the Hawke-Keating Accord years, however.

These "economic achievements" did not serve workers. The wages share of national income down (and the profits took up most of the slack). Earnings - down through the 1980s. Earnings inequalities up, especially between the bottom 80% and the top 20% and between men and women. Productivity up - through longer working hours and lost working conditions. So the national economy delivered more prosperity to fewer people than ever before, but not to most workers.

Hawke and Keating also gave "reform" a new Australian political meaning. The regressive introduction of user-pays (for example, in tertiary education), the first wave of privatisations and ever-increasing "obligations" on social security recipients were only some of the reactionary measures to be misnamed.

The biggest blow to social cohesion and solidarity from the Hawke-Keating years, however, was the decline of union membership by one count from 49% in 1981, at an accelerating rate, to 35% in 1996, and then to 25% and below in the new century. Support for an industrial and political pro-business agenda by most of the labour movement radically reduced its ability to develop the new activists who would have held together existing memberships and organised new workplaces. The impact of this took several years to develop and has not yet been fully overcome. How are "the best ideas to come from the ground up", as you suggest, if that ground has been razed?

This picture above is a "remarkable achievement" for the ALP, but not for any "party of the left". Union activists, rather than accept your injunction to try once more with feeling, need to think and think again about whether the ALP is an adequate political party for workers. That is the real question raised by this election result. If other unionists reading this, like me, think not, get involved in trying to create something that is.

Jonathan Strauss

(In a personal capacity)

NTEU UTS Branch Committee member

Ph.D student, University of Wollongong

(Topic: The Accord and class consciousness: the working class under the

Hawke and Keating governments)


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 243 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online