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Issue No. 270 01 July 2005  

After the Action
After a National Week of Action that has had everything from mass rallies in all capital cities to IR chat rooms opening on the Vogue Magazine website it�s fair to say that the first objective of this campaign � to raise public awareness � has been achieved.


Interview: Battle Stations
Opposition leader Kim Beazley says he's ready to fight for workers right. But come July 1, he'll have to be fighting by different rules.

Unions: The Workers, United
It was a group of rank and filers who took centre stage when workers rallied in Sydney's Town Hall, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: The Lost Weekend
The ALP had a hot date, they had arranged to meet on the Town Hall steps, and Phil Doyle was there.

Industrial: Truth or Dare
Seventeen ivory towered academics upset those who know what is best for us last week.

History: A Class Act
After reading a new book on class in Australia, Neale Towart is left wondering if it is possible to tie the term down.

Economics: The Numbers Game
Political economist Frank Stilwell offers a beginners guide to understanding budgets

International: Blonde Ambition
Sweden can be an inspiration to labour movements the world over, as it has had community unionism for over 100 years, creating a vibrant caring society, rather than a "productive" lean economy.

Training: The Trade Off
Next time you go looking for a skilled tradesman and can�t find one, blame an economist, writes John Sutton.

Review: Bore of the Worlds
An invincible enemy has people turning against one another as they fight for survival � its not just an eerie view of John Howard�s ideal workplace, writes Nathan Brown.

Poetry: The Beaters Medley
In solidarity with the workers of Australia, Sir Paul McCartney (with inspiration from his old friend John Lennon) has joined the Workers Online resident bard David Peetz to pen some hits about the government's proposed industrial relations revolution.


 Don't Get Angry, Get Organised

 Feds Threaten Hardie Battlers

 Beasts of Bourbon Play Dog

 Churches on Workplace Mission

 Unions Are The New Black

 Muster Has Bosses in Fluster

 Workers Flood to Protests

 Official: Libs Don�t Know Own Laws

 Schools Out For Uni Bosses

 IR Campaign Taxing Andrews

 Air Safety at Risk

 Carr Runs Over Lib Laws

 Aga Khan Workers Gaoled

 Activists Whats On!


The Soapbox
State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson lifts the lid on �The Nine Myths of Modern Unionism�

The Locker Room
Wrist Action
Phil Doyle trawls the murky depths of tawdry sleaze, and discovers Rugby is behind it all.

To Hew The Coal That Lies Below
Phil Doyle reviews Australia's first coal mining novel, Black Diamonds and Dust.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite State MP, Ian West, reports from Macquarie Street that the Premier is all the way with a State Commission.

 Workers Give In FNQ
 Power and the Passion
 Mao and Then
 The Third Way Hits A Dead End
 Unfair For All
 What Is To Be Done?
 Black Hawk Up
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After the Action

After a National Week of Action that has had everything from mass rallies in all capital cities to IR chat rooms opening on the Vogue Magazine website it�s fair to say that the first objective of this campaign � to raise public awareness � has been achieved.

We'll test this in the coming weeks through focus groups, but I'm prepared to wager that when we ask the next group of punters about what's happening to their rights at work, their won't be the sea of blank faces their were a few months ago.

The heartening thing about the first round of research was that while awareness was low, when the changes were spelt out, people were not just concerned they were angry. And whether they were union members or otherwise the question was - what can I do about it?

That is still the $64,000 question: Now that we have established the problem, what can be done when we have a Prime Minister with an ideological obsession and unlimited power and a confidence that no matter what he does he can trick the public into voting for him at election time.

It's a question that has been responsible for a number of sleepless nights across the movement in recent months. Like so much in politics, I don't think there is a silver bullet here.

More weeks of industrial action like the one just past are obviously essential, as the legislation is drafted and makes it way through the Parliament. But this sort of action has a law of diminishing returns - as those who participated in the war protests learned - if having established the benchmark, the movement is defined by how the numbers on the street are maintained. And there is always the danger of alienating the public if demonstration becomes obstruction

More constructive is community activity aimed at hitting coalition MPs a where they hurt - their local electorates. This is the phase the campaign is now moving into - mobilising communities to ask their representatives where they stand on this most basic of issues.

Look at the weasel words of the business lobby and second rate student politicians like Kevin Andrews - like the 15 page diatribe Jackie Kelly sent to constituents this week, full of "trust me's" and half truths. This won't be enough - labour market deregulation is real and people are already being squeezed.

When Unions NSW held meetings this week, the number of people who turned up to hear what was going on was a revelation - 140 in Blacktown, 70 in Penrith, 75 in Tumbi Umbi - out on a cold winter's night because they know something is happening to them.

Broadening the support base is another necessary step - and the statement of concern this week from the National Council of Churches shows that this is an issue that resonates. We need to take the debate deeper into the community - sports clubs, scouts and guides, anywhere that relies on the free time of working people to function.

There is also the challenge of supporting workers when they come under attack by employers empowered by these new laws. We need to create a movement that supports workers under attack and shames the companies that take them on.

And finally there will be the holding of account. When the time comes to pass judgment at the ballot box we can not allow this leader to pull another rabbit from the hat.

We need to wedge him between the family values he uses as a crutch and the cold hard free market ideology that he espouses.

We need to have the Australian workforce waiting for him with the proverbial baseball bat - the same one they used on Keating when he over-stepped the line and put the economy ahead of people.

And we can do it. Make no mistake, This campaign is on the rails - but it is a long and difficult track. For now we need to enjoy this week's success, take a deep breath and keeping on working.

Peter Lewis



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