The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 252 18 February 2005  

Wood for the Trees
In the book that may never become a film, ‘Eucalyptus’, a father will not give his daughter away unless her suitor can name every tree on the property.


Economics: Super Seduction
Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers.

Interview: Bono and Me
ACTU Sharan Burrow lifts the lid on the rock star lifestyle of an international union leader.

Unions: The Eight Hour Day and the Holy Spirit
Rowan Cahill bucks conventional wisdom to argue the eight-hour day began in Sydney.

Economics: OEC-Who?
The OECD calls for more reform. But, Asks Neale Towart, who is really doing the calling?

Technology: From Widgets to Digits
How can unions grow and continue to successfully represent workers when their traditional structures are rooted in an industry, craft or fixed location?

Education: Dumb and Dumber
Unions are leading the fight against a political agenda that does away with smart jobs.

Health: No Place for the Young
The support of union members is required to help get young people out of nursing homes, writes Mark Robinson

History: The Work-In That Changed a Nation
February 17 marks 30-years to the day that sacked coal miners at the NSW Northern District Nymboida Colliery began their historic work-in at the mine.

Review: Dare to Win
The history of the militant and often controversial BLF is as surprising as it is fascinating writes Tim Brunero.

Poetry: Labor's Dreaming
With another change at the helm of the Labor Party, our resident bard, David Peetz, can't help but dreamily drawing on some political history.


 Families On the Rack

 Detention Centre for Darling Harbour

 Transit Officers' Close Shave

 Truckies Drive Mac Attack

 We Have Way of Making You Walk

 Howzat – Murali Spun Out

 Show Me The Money

 Walter’s Mates Pay

 Retailer Sells Out Workers

 Financiers Squash Capital Idea

 Taskforce Stands Over Families

 Big Australian Changes the Rules

 Bodyguards Stabbed In Back

 Big Brother Stirs Up Porridge

 Carr Sees Trees for Wood

 Activist’s What’s On


Titanic Forces
There are book reviewers who have not read the book they have just reviewed and there are critics who have criticised films they have not yet seen. I want to review a novel that has not yet been written.

The Soapbox
Labour and Labor
Grant Bellchamber looks at the relationship between both sides organised labour

Aussie Unions Help Tsunami Victims
The union movement’s aid agency reports back on its relief effort in Asia.

The Locker Room
Game, Set and Yawn
Phil Doyle asks if tennis is evil or just boring

The Westie Wing
As a reshuffle of the State Ministry settles in and the Federal Government throws down the gauntlet, 2005 promises to be a new and vital chapter in the struggle for workers and their families, writes Ian West in Macquarie Street.

 Toxic Talk
 Millstone Revealed
 But Then Again
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees



Wood for the Trees

In the book that may never become a film, ‘Eucalyptus’, a father will not give his daughter away unless her suitor can name every tree on the property.

Recalling my unsuccessful efforts to plough through the book a few years ago got me thinking about how the current debate over industrial relations is emerging - and how it is getting so caught up in the detail.

For example, the Business Council of Australia put out its contribution to the debate this week, a particularly odious bit of work of ideology dressed up as economics.

There is nothing new about the BCA paper and its call for total labour market deregulation - stripping awards, gutting the industrial commission and killing the state systems.

What has changed is big business's justification for this position - no more talk of trickle down economics, totally debunked by statistics on wage-profit shares over the past 20 years (as published in last weekend's Australian newspaper).

No, the new justification is about re-defining 'fairness' to remove the concept from the workplace. The BCA wants fairness to now mean that "the bottom 20 per cent" (their words) remain about the same.

Having disposed with fairness, the BCA then lays out its blueprint for prosperity, which (I kid you not) is ((E+U)/POP) X (E/E + U) X (GDP/E)!

And the media coverage? 'Business lobby pushes for further deregulation'; leads about award stripping, state-fed IR harmonisation, even some limited analysis about how this is an ambit claim by big business.

But what was missing was, to my mind, the far more substantial fact that Big Business is asking to redefine fairness and turn prosperity into an equation.

This is not a straight IR story - it is a story about a play to remake Australian society and, in the BCA, the real game has been articulated

This is the insidious thing about the current debate - by focussing on the specifics about structure most in the public tune out and those proposing change can represent a fundamental change to our society as a technical argument.

This is more than a moot point, in terms of mobilising some response to the Howard agenda, people will not get passionate about state rights, or even the status of their industrial instrument.

Our challenge, as the representatives of working families, must be to paint a broader picture for an electorate who does not even realise that Howard has control of the Senate, let alone follow insider debates on IR.

We need to join the dots between labour market deregulation and the ability to plan a life outside of work. And we need to go further, we need to show how a society that does not give its workers the security to commit - to mortgages, to families, to community organisations - is fundamentally weaker no matter what the economic indicators say.

If you spend your time naming every tree in the forest, you will never paint a coherent picture - it is only by taking a broader perspective and understanding the law of the land, that we will make sense of these substantial changes about to be imposed on Australians in the name of prosperity.

Peter Lewis



*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 252 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online