||Issue No. 244||29 October 2004|
Raking Over The Tea Leaves
Interview: The Last Bastian
Unions: High and Dry
Security: Liquid Borders
Industrial: No Bully For You
History: Radical Brisbane
International: No Vacancies
Economics: Life After Capitalism
Technology: Cyber Winners
Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Locker Room
Nothing To Stand On
Itís The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Dear Mark letter
Latham on Union Mat
NSW Labor Council secretary, John Robertson, predicted that would be the outcome of Lathamís decision to join IR to Industry and Infrastructure in a super ministry under the control of shadow cabinet dry, Stephen Smith.
Latham has split traditional IR responsibilities amongst Smith and shadow cabinet rookies, Tanya Plibersek who will take on work, family and community; and Penny Wong who picks up employment and workforce participation.
Robertson predicts when the Left women, who have both supported workers in the past, try to stick up for traditional labour values they will be "squeezed' by Latham's desire to cosy up to big business.
"It is going to be played out factionally when it shouldn't be," Robertson warned. "The women will be portrayed as the loony left so the industry element of the portfolio can hold sway.
"Unions can't afford to be divided by factional warlords. We have to develop a united trade union position based on core labour principles and take it to the party.
"It is quite disturbing and, frankly, alarming that IR and the union movement are being used by the federal leader to justify his defeat.
"The fact is that IR flew under the radar during the election campaign but Mark Latham is falling for the same trick as Simon Crean by allowing the Liberal Party to set his agenda.
"If he doesn't improve his position he will go the same way as his predecesor.
"The Labor Party will never succeed as a pale imitation of the conservatives. It is a Labor Party founded by trade unionists to look after the interests of working men and women and their families.
"It's our party and that's something the federal leader needs to understand."
Robertson was strongly supported by TWU secretary, Tony Sheldon, who also called on unionists to ditch factional alliances in favour of a united position.
Sheldon predicted Latham's first test would come when the Coalition tried to strip collective protections from contractors. He pointed out that one third of TWU members were owner operators and that both the ETU and CFMEU had made recent breakthroughs on behalf of contactor members.
Robertson and Sheldon, both members of the NSW Right, echoed sentiments expressed by national Left union leader, Doug Cameron.
Cameron called Latham's promise to consult business over a rewrite of its industrial relations policy a "cowardly scapegoating exercise".
The AMWU national secretary wrote to Latham expressing concern about his plan to begin talks with business about policy changes.
"That the party has identified industrial relations as a key weakness, and a reason it lost the election, is, to say the very least, astounding," Cameron wrote.
He invited to set up a meeting for Latham, Smith and shadow treasurer Wayne Swan with workers whose employers had tried to block their access to union representation.
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