||Issue No. 249||03 December 2004|
Interview: Minority Report
Industrial: Girl Power
Unions: Made in NZ
History: Spirit for a Fair Go
Economics: Fool's Gold
Politics: Worth Fighting For
Health: The Force Behind Medibank
Legal: Robust Justice
International: After the Revolution
Poetry: The Sound of Unions
Review: Bad Santa
The Locker Room
Not A Casey Fan
Moral Crusade to Save Family
The new moral crusade will be driven a one million dollar think tank, Working NSW, funded by Unions NSW and launched by Clinton Administration member Robert Reich this week.
Reich, one of America's leading academics and a former secretary of Labour, says the challenge for unions and progressive political parties is to chart a new positive agenda that takes morals out of the bedroom and into the boardroom.
Reich says that while the Religious Right in America has rallied around symbolic issues like gay marriages, corporations tear away at the fabric of society with little comment.
Reich told Unions NSW delegates that the challenge for unions was to outflank the Right by following the implications of labour market deregulation through to family life.
Reich says profound moral issues flow from the economic choices we make.
"We face three choices," he says. "We can go back to the 1950's, but I don't think that is going to happen.
"We can go toward a free market where everyone is on their own; a situation that undermines a lot of families and communities; where there is no security of employment and wage levels are set purely by market forces; where people are continually fearful and anxious.
"Or we can have a strong organised labour movement that embraces the future; that enables people to adapt to that future and provides economic security."
Reich says unions need to get people connected to politics. "We need a grass roots politics, not just through media and advertising."
A 2020 Family Vision
One part of the jigsaw is Working NSW, the union movement's answer to the HR Nichols Society.
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said the first project would focus on the impact of the way we work on the family and community, throwing forward to 2020.
Working NSW's mission is to contribute to building a strategic plan for Unions NSW to campaign for a better life for working families over a sustained period of time.
Working NSW aims to tap into the work being undertaken by the academic community to establish clear policy frameworks for future campaigns, backed by rigorous economic costings,
Mr Robertson says Working NSW it was an opportunity for the labour movement to enter the moral debate.
"While the Right claims a mortgage on moral issues like gay marriages and abortion, the real moral crisis is the breakdown in family and community caused by the way we work.
"It is our challenge as a progressive movement, to reclaim the moral high ground and hold the Prime Minister to account for policies that undermine the family and community.
"To this end Unions NSW will be seeking to open a dialogue with the churches and encourage organizations like Family First and other faith-based organisations.
Working NSW will be chaired by former NSW Premier Barry Unsworth and include representatives from academia, the business community and religion. It will call for expressions of interest for its first research project in early 2005.
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