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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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Tomorrow the World…

Sharan Burrow will become the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) first woman president as worker organisations move to a global footing.

Burrow is excited by the move to build a "new international" with the proposed amalgamation of the ICFTU with another major international union federation, the World Confederation of Labour (WCL).

"We will build a new international on the foundation stone of our strengths, which is our history," says Burrow. "We will build an inclusive movement that includes women as well as men and be representatives of all cultures."

Global bargaining tables and a commitment to organising and collective bargaining are features of a re-invigorated international union movement, according to Burrow.

"We will be organising locally and globally," says Burrow. "This is the only way unions can facilitate the recognition and implementation of their rights.

"The main priorities of the ICFTU are to secure fundamental rights for working people across the world, develop international labour standards, improve gender equality, help end workplace discrimination and tackle instances of exploitation by multinationals.

Burrow put the prominent role of Australian trade unionists in international union federations down to international recognition of Australia's commitment to fairness.

"Unfortunately this is being eroded by the current government and the international corporates," says Burrow, who has been congratulated on her new appointment by national and international leaders but not by Prime Minister Howard.

"Maybe nobody has told him yet," jokes Burrow.

The ACTU President has already worked with Dutch and US unions on the James Hardie campaign.

The ICFTU is also working with government for a global ban on products.

The ICFTU was established in 1949 and represents 23 affiliated union organisations from more than 150 countries with more than 150 million individual members. The ICFTU cooperates closely with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has a consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.


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