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Issue No. 250 21 December 2004  

Beyond The Law
Despite the all-engulfing gloom emenating from our political wing right now, 2004 comes to an end on a strangely upbeat note for the trade union movement.


Interview: The King of Comedy
John Robertson looks back on a year when his comic genius was finally realised.

Unions: Ten Simple Rules
Accepted wisdom has unions all but retired as serious players in the Australian game. A glance through the major industrial stories of 2004, however, suggests improved footwork, and a commitment to boxing clever, might herald a comeback, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Rampant Indivdualism
CFMEU National Secretary John Sutton gives his take on a year when the political debate took a turn to the Right.

International: Global Struggle
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks back on a year when the struggles for labour increasingly crossed international lines.

Economics: Cashing in the Year
Look back in sorrow or look back in anger? By any standards 2004 has been a hell of a year, writes Frank Stilwell.

History: Grass Roots
Worker solidarity in Australia in the first century of invasion can give us inspiration and clues for our upcoming battles, writes Neale Towart.

Review: Cultural Realities
In 2004 popular culture shifted from reality television to reality movies, and swapped last year's light-weight subject matter for the slightly more substantial, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Y-U-C-K
Workers Online resident bard David Peetz takes inspiration from The Village People for his latest prose.


 Unions Make Hardie Pay

 Hadgkiss Gives Mourners Grief

 Mum Gets "Hopson’s" Choice

 AWAs Crash on Broken Hill

 No Fun in the Sack

 Tax Office Draws Blood

 Origin Prop a Union Hit

 Good Guy Wears Black

 Security Crisis at Sydney Airport

 Biscuit Bosses Crumble

 Ardmona Urged to Can Racism

 Bomber Predicts Big Bang

 Stolen Wages Cut

 Tomorrow the World…

 Bosses Sack WorkCover

 Activists What's On!


The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2005.

The Soapbox
Scrooge Was Right
Christmas has been cancelled this year, writes our US correspondent Brooklyn Phil.

The Locker Room
The Workers Online Sports Awards
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the Twentieth Century, Phil Doyle dishes out the gongs for all things great and small in the world of sport during 2004.

The Westie Wing
Our favoutrite MP looks for a positive spin on the year at NSW Parliament

 Costa’s Hike Unfare
 Temporary Arrangements
 The Price Of Tea In China
 Cry For Me, Argentina
 Ho Bloody Ho
 Right Is Wrong
 Business As Usual
 All In The Family
 Swing Left Wishful Thinking
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Trades Hall

Origin Prop a Union Hit

Former Origin hardman Tony Butterfield is scoring in his new life as a trade unionist.

Butterfield's efforts in the engine-room of the fledgling Rugby League Players Association were recognised, this month, when fellow workers named him the state's organiser of the year.

After years of wrangling with the NRL and the footy establishment, Butterfield's organisation, has signed off on the code's first collective agreement for players.

Butterfield, with over 300 games for Penrith and Newcastle under his belt, has led the RLPA over three dramatic years which culminated in a player boycott of the NRL's 2003 Dally M awards.

In the process, he has been demonised by newspapers with a vested interest in the NRL.

The Rugby League Player's Association president was amongst three finalists recognised at the Unions NSW annual dinner for outstanding contributions to workers rights.

Greg Matthews from the FBEU, and the PSA's Sharon Vassar provided tough competition for award judges.

In the last four years, Matthews has increased membership of the union in his area by 80 percent, from 1600 to 2500.

The FBEU now has a presence in every one of the 300 part time regional fire stations in the state.

Vassar was another rank and file activist who came to work at the union after organising successes in the Department of Education and Training.

This year Vassar led a membership campaign that outed "horrific" levels of bullying in the public service.

Her efforts were instrumental in the Unions NSW campaign to have employers and government departments sign up to the "Dignity and Respect in the Workplace" Charter.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said Butterfield did unionism the same way he played football - hard, up front and no nonsense - but with skills opponents sometimes underestimated.

"For those of us in the union movement, none of his playing day exploits can match his achievement in building a union where those before him failed," said Robertson.

"He did so, with a disparate membership and an extremely hostile employer."

"Just last week the Rugby League Players Association celebrated a comprehensive victory in securing their collective agreement."

During his acceptance speech Butterfield thanked Unions NSW's Chris Christodoulou and John Robertson for two years of invaluable assistance.

He said the agreement would never have been finalised without active support from the wider union movement.


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