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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 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.


 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 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.

 Historical Reversion?
 Whose prosperity?
 Shop Till the Worker Drops
 Unreported Views
 Bobís Silver Anniversary
 Hit And Myth
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Letters to the Editor

Hit And Myth

"Historical Revisions" is a fitting title for your myth-making editorial (15/10), which celebrates the Hawke-Keating regime's "tremendous economic achievements" under the ALP-ACTU Accord.

What did the Accord do? It caused a dramatic shift in incomes from wages to profits. In 1982-3, the share of GDP going to profits was 12.1% and the wages share was 63.3%. By March 1996, the profit share had reached 16.3% and the wages share had fallen to 57.8%. Put another way, workers handed the bosses 4.2% of GDP -- over $20 billion a year. Between 1983 and 1990, hourly award rates of pay dropped by 15-30%.

Was this all used for productive investment? No, much of it went into a speculative bubble which, in turn, led to Keating's "recession we had to have". Then Kelty & Co began pushing us into enterprise bargaining. A fine record!

Peter Lewis says these economic changes were "driven by a partnership between a social democratic party and organised labour, something that did not happen anywhere else in the world." Unfortunately true. Elsewhere the culprits were open reactionaries like Reagan and Thatcher -- here it was labour leaders who did it to us, and we are still paying the price.

Did we at least "avoid the social dislocation and break-down of the Reagan and Thatcher regimes"? Perhaps Peter has forgotten the smashing of two unions: the BLF and the Pilots (in the latter case, by using the military against unionists).

And I love this one: "the union movement took the principled decision to back labour market deregulation - even though they knew it would make their own job tougher".

What kind of principles are these!? But actually, it wasn't rank and file workers who took these decisions, was it Peter? It was Hawke, Keating and Kelty - over workers' heads. No wonder workers began to lose interest in unions. Over the Accord years, union coverage fell from 49.5% to 31%.

And no wonder voters "threw Labor out of office", and still suspect that "Labor cannot manage the economy".

We do agree on one thing: the best ideas come from "the bottom up". Which means if we want to revive the labour movement, the last thing we need is top-down pro-capitalist projects like the Accord.

Steven Presley


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