Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 28 Official Organ of LaborNet 27 August 1999  




*  Interview: Talking Turkey
A full transcript of an important interview with the Minister for Workplace Relations, the Hon Peter Reith.
*  Politics: What Reith told the ILO
Workers Online has recevied a transcript of roving statesman Peter Reith's talk to the ILO in Geneva. This one's not satire.
*  Unions: What the Workers Said
Actor Di Smith was one of nine ordinary workers who addressed this week's rally. Here's what she had to say.
*  International: Cancelling the Debt
Sign this Jubilee 2000 email petition now and tell the world's most powerful leaders to cancel the unpayable debts of the world's poorest countries by the year 2000.
*  Environment: Greens, CFMEU call for Action on Ceiling Dust
Residents and workers, associated with houses damaged in the freak hail storm that hit Sydney earlier this year, may have been exposed to harmful levels of toxic materials found in the ceiling dust of the damaged buildings
*  History: Eveleigh Railway Workshops celebration
Former workers and their families from the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops in inner-Sydney are holding a picnic reunion and folk music festival on the site this Sunday.
*  Republic: Does the Republic Need a President?
It seems inevitable that Australia will eventually become a republic but do we need a president?
*  Satire: Liberals May Need to Sell of More of Telstra
'We're running low in key marginals,’ says Alston
*  Review: A Kind of Violence
Extracts from Yosi Berger's new book, telling the real stories behind workpalce safety.

Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith

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The Wetsuits Surf the Wave

Shock New Stats! Readers Desert Newspapers
Readership of newspapers have plummeted in the past 20 years, with circulation levels dropping from more than 50 per cent of the population in 1974 to less than 25 per cent today.
[ Full Story » ]

Surfing the Wave
An estimated 15,000 workers marched through the streets of Sydney, Tuesday, in the city’s funkiest rally ever to protest the proposed Second Wave of industrial relations reforms.
[ Full Story » ]

Vizard Smokescreen Clouds Computer Deal
Despite talk that Steve Vizard has walked away from his Virtual Communities project with the ACTU, the entrepreneur and Telstra Board member remains a key investor in a deal which could net him millions.
[ Full Story » ]

Youth Wages: Is Bevis a Butthead?
Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Arch Bevis has defended his decision to do a deal with the Howard Government over youth wages amidst trade union cries of sell out, claiming the deal as a victory for workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Which Bank Harasses Sick Workers?
Commonwealth Back workers are being asked to comment on the health of sick colleagues as management struggles to stem an explosion in workplace illnesses caused by work overload.
[ Full Story » ]

SOCOG Eyes Wide Shut on Games Gear
A shroud of secrecy has enveloped the production of Sydney 2000 uniforms after Games organisers abandoned a plan to send Board member Anna Booth to inspect factories in the Pacific.
[ Full Story » ]

Scully Uses Reith First Wave Against Rail Workers
Relations between Transport Minister Carl Scully and the union movement have sunk to a new low after he supported a management decision to dock rail workers pay under Peter Reith’s Workplace Relations Act.
[ Full Story » ]

Reith Building Blitz Hits Bum Note
The Howard Government’s planned assault on the building industry has been dismissed as misguided by a major new report conducted by the University of Newcastle.
[ Full Story » ]

Entitlements Focus Shifts Back to Woodlawn
The forgotten victims of the Oakdale saga, 160 Woodlawn miners owed $6.5 million, will become the focus of a new campaign to recover their unpaid entitlements.
[ Full Story » ]

Fresh South Coast Ballot Called
The Labor Council of NSW has moved to heal the rift on the South Coast, ordering a fresh ballot on November 24 to reunify the movement.
[ Full Story » ]

"Big Drum Up" For East Timor
A massive fundraising benefit for the East Timor Emergency Appeal currently being run by APHEDA will be held this friday night.
[ Full Story » ]

Eric Lee Public Forum
International trade union Internet guru Eric Lee will visit Australia in early September sponsored by Adult Learning Australia.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Vizard: Net Content Is Vital

  • No, No, No to MSN Model

  • The Vizard deal. Is it another great deal for you!!!!???

  • Editorial

    Selling Off the Virtual Farm

    After the highs of Tuesday's Second Wave rally, the labour movement has been brought back to earth by a couple of dodgy decisions, where good intentions have not translated into good policy.

    First it was youth wages. There's no doubt that Arch Bevis thought he was doing trade unions a favour when he cut a deal with Reithy. Only problem was that he didn't talk to the unions, who would have pointed out a few problems with the proposal. After all, they're the one's who talk to the workers. They're the experts.

    Likewise, members of the ACTU executive no doubt believe that the key to empowerment in the Information Age is access to computers, making the Vizard deal an attractive proposition. Problem is, they didn't bother to consult with those who understand the Information Economy. The experts.

    They would tell them that the key is not the hardware, but control of a base in cyberspace, a portal through which an organisation or movement's presence is defined. It is their piece of real estate in the new world.

    Unions have been able to weather the rapid decline in numbers in recent years because of the assets they held from earlier times. The large property holdings that many unions possess have been an important buffer against decreasing revenues.

    To sell off the membership to a commercially-owned and controlled portal is akin to renting office space, rather than building your own. All for the sort of cheap computer deal that any operator worth their palm pilot could line up.

    Perhaps we should look at the response to information revolution of another endangered species - newspapers - whose hypocrisy in focussing on the decline of union membership is exposed this week.

    Instead of trying to flog computers, newspapers are making sure they remain part of the new media - investing vast sums of money in developing their own web presence, knowing that if they do it well, people will come.

    This is everything the ACTU is not doing with their Internet strategy. One can only hope that the businessmen who put this deal together are really in for the long haul and will be prepared to put the integrity of the movement before their short-term profits. After all, that's what bosses do!

    Peter Lewis



    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
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