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Issue No. 253 25 February 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

And The Battle Begins
After months of skirmishing and waiting for the first shots to be fired, we finally have a picture of the Howard Government’s agenda to tear down 100 years of industrial relations.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Signs of the Times

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Andrews Apes Big End

 Telstra Charge Reversed

 Good GEERS Hard to Find

 More Pulp Fiction

 For Sale - Goulburn

 Bosses Admit Pay Too Low

 Yachtie Sinks in Bog

 Albrechtsen Merits Questions

 New Eateries On Menu

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Markets Cheer Pattern Bargains

 Mine Managers in Denial

 No Interest In Costello

 Activist’s What’s On

C O L U M N S

Politics
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

Postcard
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

Parliament
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.

L E T T E R S
 Boycott Bunnings
 Just One Thing
 No Dosh For Rupert
 Executions Not Fines
 Howard Needs To Know
 Disability Disgrace
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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No Dosh For Rupert


How to respond to the Federal government's next round of IR reform is the debate currently rumbling through the union movement.

The ACTU Executive meeting in March will make some decisions on the near term strategy based on the trends emerging in the movement.

One view is for spending millions of dollars in advertising campaigns with non-confrontational imagery. We must not emphasise rallies and other such blokey images in fear of repeating the stupid behaviour of a small minority at the 1996 Parliament House demonstration.

Another trend of thought puts emphasis on organizing working people to demonstrate their opposition to the coming storm through public actions and education.

This idea is to use workplace and community campaigning to lift public awareness of the issues and their impact on families.

Naturally, there are a dozen shades of grey between these two poles that include legal strategies and coalition building.

The debate has not yet moved into dealing with the new rules of the game in the long term. Once the legislation is in place how will the movement survive six or more years of unfettered hostility from Canberra?

The one idea that should be rejected outright is that of spending large amounts of money on advertising.

While the objectives of an ad campaign have yet to be spelled out by its supporters there is every reason to question the assumption that it can do more than momentary good.

As one senior ACTU figure said at recent strategy meeting, "We can raise millions at each election for he ALP why not do it for ourselves?"

The comparison just does not work. Advertising in an election is for a very specific purpose (influencing votes) in a very specific time frame (usually five weeks).

There is no reason to believe that an ad campaign without such immediate purpose will influence anyone's beliefs or actions in the long term.

The major corporations establish their image by permanent media placement. We are just not in this league nor should we be thinking in those terms.

If the movement is capable of raising some millions of dollars for a survival strategy we must have a long-term view on its best use.

We need capacity to build progressive ideas through links with education institutions and think tanks.

We need to build a permanent profile for our ideas through shared resources for web based blog pages, discussion groups and alliance with other social movements.

We need skilled people on the ground for community and political activism.

We need to establish a political presence genuinely independent of any political party.

Let's invest in the movement long term not in the pockets of Murdoch and Packer.

Brian Mason


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