||Issue No. 268||17 June 2005|
Courting Public Opinion
Interview: The Baby Drought
Industrial: Lies, AWAs and Statistics
Workplace: The Invisible Parents
History: Bruce’s Big Blunder
Politics: All God's Children
Economics: Spun Out
International: Shakey Trials
Legal: Civil Distrubance
Review: Crash Course In Racism
Poetry: You're Fired
The Locker Room
Once Upon A Time In America
The Truth Is Out There
Cash Cow On Private Tax Farm
Courting Public Opinion
While the idea of delivering union members' hard earned money to the media moguls may be difficult for some to take, it is an opportunity to put forward a clear message to the public, undiluted by the biases of the mainstream press.
Having been involved in the development and production of the advertisements I may be a little biased, but I think they represent a quantum leap in the way unions confront a political battle.
First, the scope of the campaign: $8 million is a significant advertising buy - more than half the buy for major party in a federal election, or the sort of spend a middling corporation would invest when launching a new product.
And it is only the first phase of a sustained campaign that will roll out over the next 12 months, as anger grows at this blatant attack on basic rights that we have taken for granted for far too long.
Second, the focus of the campaign which has one simple objective: to raise awareness about the changes - the threshold first step to building community opposition to the Howard Government.
And you won't see the word 'union' mentioned once. These advertisements focus on the lives of working people and the clear, quantifiable able rights that they will lose under the new laws.
Third, the use of advertising outside the traditional electoral cycle to raise political issues: most organisations wait until an election is called to bombard the electorate with their information.
Part of the thinking of this campaign is to use the time outside this cycle to raise awareness about an issue - rights at work - and elevate it into an issue that will shift votes come election time.
No one suggests that these advertisements will in and of themselves shift the Howard Government from its course. But they will be backed by industrial and community action that creates the momentum to give the paid media real firepower
Now there will be a number of union members who see this sort of campaigning as a soft option - that the only way to stand up to the changes is through strike action.
But think about this - an average worker forgoes $200 a day when they go on strike; an action that makes those involved feel good but invariably turns public opinion against their cause.
This major advertising campaign is being funded by a levy on unions of $3 per member. Get a sense of the impact of this and then times it by seventy - and dream about that sort grunt the movement can have if we channel our anger strategically.
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