Workers Online has learned that several of the large industry funds have been approached by the company and ACTU secretary Bill Kelty to provide the money to get the project off the ground.
Four separate industry funds are believed to have agreed to pay $1.5 million each. While they were asked to put more than this into the project, it still represents 50 per cent of the up front funding.
Industry sources say its unclear what the terms of the agreement are, but it is unlikely that the funds will get a working control of the portal. The funds are believed to be: STA, ARF, LUCRF and LERF.
The money would be used to develop and promote the website that would become the base for the online merchandising. Under the Virtual Communities business plan, the website is the main revenue source for the proposal.
The ACTU executive last week voted 49-1 to accept the Virtual Communities proposal in principle. Individual unions' participation is voluntary and will ultimately be determined on a branch by branch basis.
Meanwhile, new research has highlighted the importance of getting the union movement's Internet strategy right.
Forrester Research says young people are emerging as a "Net-powered generation". Their "technology internalisation" affects their behaviour and attitudes, and will reshape the economy.
According to the research 16- to 22-year-olds spend nine hours a week online, 40% more than adults, and have new attitudes - they want deep and accurate information anywhere at any time, believe their personal information has value and that unlimited choice is virtually a right.
Describing this as a watershed for the Net, Forrester says: "Companies that fail to meet these expectations will be left behind." Unions too.
The Dress Standards Code, distributed to staff at a city credit union instructs workers that "black underwear under light coloured clothing is totally unacceptable" and that "no bra straps (are) to be shown".
It also instructs workers that they can wear gold/white or silver jewellery only, no beads or shells and no visible body piercing. Earrings are limited to two per ear, while men are only allowed to wear studs.
The dress code also proscribes a skirt length (no shorter than 10 cm above the top of the kneecap), limits the colours of stockings and says that hair colours can only be "natural tone - no iridescent colour."
Finance Sector Union state secretary Geoff Derrick says the union have advised staff they don't need comply with the dress code.
"Every now and then we get an employer who think they know more about the fashion industry than the finance industry - we think they should stick to what they know best," Derrick says.
The workers involved have asked us not to disclose the employer's name
The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union says Olympic management has "no moral right " to force Australian sportspeople to wear garments made by exploited labour.
And the union warns that unless Olympic management promptly agrees to "an adequate independent inspection of all the relevant overseas production facilities" it will "expose all of the tactics used to conceal crucial information from the Australian public."
SOCOG claims it has already inspected the facilities and found them to comply with the Code, and last week ruled out an investigation by SOCOG Board member and former union official Anna Booth.
Under pressure from unions to release details of where overseas goods are being produced, SOCOG this week claimed that 83 per cent of garments will be made locally, while refusing to disclose the names of the Indonesian, Malaysian and Fijian manufacturers.
But unions claim SOCOG would have needed to count every sock as an individual garment to reach this figure.
The Labor Council has asked SOCOG to call an emergency meeting of its Monitoring Committee on the Licensed Goods Code of Conduct and is threatening to pull out of the Code if their concerns not addressed.
"It appears SOCOG is placing the union movement in a position where we need to seriously consider whether we want to be a party to a Code of Conduct," Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says.
"The union movement is not prepared to endorse goods being made overseas when it appears there is little if any possibility of monitoring whether the companies are adhering to the Code of Conduct.
"The secrecy surrounding Pacific Dunlop's refusal to name the companies being used overseas is testimony of this."
The $2000 prize will be awarded at the Labor Council executive dinner in November, after entrants are judged by a panel including ACTU president Jennie George, TUTA director Michael Crosby and Labor Council secretary Michael Costa.
Entrants are asked to provide a 500-1000 work report on how they have applied the principles of organising to a workplace or group of workers. The entries will then be published in Workers Online.
The deadline for submissions is November 11 and entires should be sent to Workers Online at Level 10, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney 2000 or emailed via the link at the bottom of this page.
Survey Shows More Stressed Workers
Meanwhile an ACTU survey of more than 7,000 workers has found the majority of full time employees are working more than 40 hours a week, less than half are satisfied with the balance between work and family life and a third feel their job has become less secure in the last 12 months.
The ACTUthis week released its national survey on Employment Security and Working Hours. The survey analysed results from almost 7000 employees across Australia. Those surveyed worked as teachers (private and public schools); in local government, finance, manufacturing and the federal public sector.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Greg Combet says the survey reveals that many people are working unreasonable hours, that the sheer amount of work they have to do has increased, with accompanying health and safety problems. Almost half of those who responded are working some unpaid overtime each week.
"On top of this, many employees are feeling less secure in their jobs and there is a distinct increase in the number of casuals and contract employees being employed in many workplaces," he says
Key results from the survey show that 55% of those surveyed are working 40 or more hours a week. Almost half (45%) are working some unpaid overtime every week and almost half (49%) have suffered health problems because of their working conditions.
Less than half of those surveyed (44%) are happy with their balance between work and family, and a third of permanent full time workers want to work fewer hours per week.
Mr Combet said unions will respond to the issues identified in the national survey through activity in the workplace.
"When so many employees are prepared to actively support change, as revealed by our survey, it is important that unions remain at the forefront - formulating claims and negotiating improvements at the workplace."
The Rail Bus and Tram Union says members were so sick of being forced to trade off hard-won conditions each time they asked for a pay pay rise that they had decided to forgoe the cyclical pay round this year.
But in a bid to slash costs, State Transit has lodged their own claim under the Workplace Relations Act, to which the union has to respond.
The RBTU has decribed the move as "a sheer act of bastardry", with proposals including:
- a one week reduction in annual holidays.
- reduced sick days from 15 to eight.
- capping the number of accrued sick days.
- reduction in overtime that can be accrued.
- longer unpaid meal breaks.- lengthening ordinary hours of work by two hours per day.
- reducing prepapration time for shifts.
Actuary to the Workers Compensation Advisory Council, David Zaman, has estimated that the average scheme performance has improved from 3.1 per cent of average payroll to around 2.8 per cent.
This means that after years of decline, premiums are now covering the costs of the scheme.
The news comes as the Advisory Council proposes a range of savings measures, designed to rein in the scheme's deficit and ensure that the good performance continues.
The package, which was requested by the Carr Government earlier this year, includes:
- increased resources for occupational health and safety programs to be run through the new Industry Reference Groups.
- targeting of poor performing employers
- an improved medical model, including educating medical practitioners about early intervention and return to work procedures.
- increased standards on insurers to ensure they meet performance criteria, including on the spot fines.
- - strengthening the mandatory provisions for employers to provide suitable employment.
- a new method for provided modified duties through a wage subsidy where the employer is unable to provide them - particularly in small businesses.
The package is estimated to safe in excess of $300 million per annum.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says the savings would assist the scheme without reducing benefits. But he warned that any attempt to erode workers entitlements would not be acceptable to the union movement.
It's all part of the LHMU's push to spread information about the Second Wave amongst its members - and with coverage of the hospitality sector, what better way than a menu to get the message across.
The AWA burger is explained thus: "The popular juicy award burger, full of healthy wages and conditions, is off the menu. Instead try this thin individual contract burger. It offers less work rights and smaller pay rises.
The shredded award salad is also explained: "Peter Reith's knife will strip away your protein-packed award conditions - including superannuation, long service leave and training. You'll be left with half the nutrition and no protective dressing.
As for the Deep-Frozen pay rise - "What a tease! You can see your safety net pay rise but you can't eat it. At Reith's Cafe, low paid workers will only get a safety net pay rise if they agree to give up even more award conditions.
There's also the Watered Down Commission Cocktail, the Anti-Union Snags, the Flaming Sacked Workers and the Action Delay Stew to get the juices flowing. Bon apetit!
The LHMU has produced 40,000 menus to circulate to workers. Copies are available at the union organising Centre, 377 Sussex Street.
The push to tender the homes out from the Department of Community Services to private operators have prompted alarm about the maintenance of services and the impact on the 3,000 workers employed in the sector.
Public Service Association president Maurie O'Sullivan says at least 200 facilities are earmarked to be replaced with private operations, leading to an inevitable drop is standards.
"I think the government is abrogated its place in humanity," O'Sullivan says. "Very clearly this is Treasury driven and steeped in economic rationalism, it's the slide approach to humanity.
And O'Sullivan warns that the government could actually end up losing money, given a recent Federal Court decision on the portability of conditions when services are contracted out.
Protesters have been asked to meet Hyde Park at 11.30am to march to Parliament House on Tuesday.
TAFE Teachers To Maintain Pressure
Meanwhile, nearly 16,000 TAFE teachers stopped work to attend mass rallies to protest cuts to TAFE budgets and the Carr Government's refusal to negotiate on new wage agreements.
Teachers say the effects of the cuts will be:
- a reduction of 630 teaching and support positions
- putting taxpayers money into the pockets of private providers
- reducing opportunities for quality public education and training in both country and city areas
- increasing class sizes and reducing the number of courses and subjects available to students
- increasing the casualisation of the TAFE teaching service from its current unacceptable level, where more than half of all teaching is done by part-time casuals
- removal of job security for TAFE teachers
Teachers will begin rolling strikes this week, commencing on Tuesday 7th and spread over until Friday, week, with a quarter of the state out each day for two hours.
While Education Minister John Aquilina is persisting with the line that the government will not negotiate until teachers agree to sign off on contentious issues in the previous award, the teachers say the ball is in his court on staffing levels and pay for casual teachers.
The NSW Police Association has raised concerns at the attitudes of Ministers Bob Debus, Richard Face and Kim Yeadon, who were reported in the Sun-Herald as opposing the public holiday.
The Labor Council has asked the government to declare New Years Eve a one-off public holiday in recognition of the special nature of the event and the fact that thousands of workers will be forced to work on the night.
"It is to be hoped that these members were misquoted given the fact that it is unlikely that Parliament will be sitting nor is it likely they will be required to service their constituents on the night on question," Police Association secretary Peter Remfrey says.
"In contrast, a range of workers both in the public and private sector will be required to work to ensure the rest of the community will be able to enjoy the festivities," Remfrey says.
Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says its "highly inappropriate" for Ministers to be commenting on proposals that are awaiting Cabinet approval.
"It's especially galling when you consider State Parliament sat for just 49 days last year," he says.
A Cabinet decision on the public holiday issue is expected this month.
With new laws forcing Telstra to reveal some salaries in the annual accounts, the CEPU has circulated the information to long-suffering members within the organisation.
"There are some interesting pay rises while we all tighten our belts," national vice president Dan Dwyer says,.
CEO Ziggy Switkowski, who has only been there since March 1, received $1,173,836 for driving the ship through to June. Outgoing boss Frank Blount was paid a mere $3,700,000 for the nine months. "A nice boost to the economy of USA," Dwyer says.
Other executives were also on a good wicket. Paul Rizzo earned $1,080,000 plus a long term bonus of $207,000, Doug Campbell managed $1,010,000, Gerry Moriarty snared $ 997,420 while Peter Shore limped away with $939,253
Dwyer says Telstra's senior staff received at least a 20 per cent pay increase a few months ago and up to 40 per cent of their salaries are linked to share price and dividends and performance. If you compare the figures with last year, some got an increase of over $200,000.
During the last year, Telstra proudly announced that 4,500 Australians lost their job with the company. The stock market usually loves sackings, and rewards those clever executives with a higher share price - further boosting their income.
These big pay rises do not come easy and have to be paid for. So last week, Paul Rizzo was reported in the SMH stating that Telstra was to begin "another generation of cost cuts"
The figures estimated by the SMH was a reduction of 12,000 staff from 53,000 to 35,000. That means that just over one in four staff need to be shot this year.
The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union has initiated legal proceedings against Nike and 71 other clothing companies.
Nike is the only company that has refused to settle, has refused to sign the Homeworkers Code of Practice and refused to comply with the Award.
To draw attention to the case, the FairWaer Alliance is planning a protest action in Melbourne this Sunday, September 5 at the Nike Superstore at 1pm at the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets
Help the campaign by writing or faxing Nike and ask them to sign the Homeworkers Code of Practice in Australia and to make sure that workers making their products anywhere in the world receive a living wage and have the right to collectively organise independent unions, work in a safe work environment, free from harassment, intimidation and forced overtime.
Tell Nike that you intend to not by their products until you have independent assurance from Nike Watch activists that their products are genuinely inspired by the needs of the workers making their products.
You Can Write to Nike general manager, Mel Sutton, Nike Australia, 28 Victoria Crescent Abbotsford, Victoria 3067 - Fax. 9292 9444 or Megan Ryan Nike Public Relations Manager in Australia.
With two local clubs expected to be cut to make way for a 14 team competition in 2000, unions have joined the rearguard action many promoted by political parties, the arts industry, the legal profession and other sporting groups.
The campaign will start with a mass rally and Gala Day at Randwick Racecourse On Sunday October 10, from 11am - to be co-ordinated by South Sydney Football Clubs.
Tap Gallery, 278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst (off lower Oxford St.) 7.30pm for launch on Thursday, September 9. Exhibition open until Saturday.
Vince Jones and Billy Field are on the line-up for the gig, which will coincide with the Author's national meeting of management.
Venue: the Basement: 29 Reiby Street, Circular Quay at 4pm. Admission: $20. To Book call the Musos Union on 9698 2555
An answer to your pertinent and timely question-Is Beavis a Butthead-Yes Yes and thousands of times Yes. Now for the reasons, industrial, economic and political.
Industrial-Beavis has agreed with the Eco rats that low wages are a solution to unemployment,he has tacitly accepted the proposition that young people and working families must pay subsidies to some of the biggest and wealthiest corporations in this country and he clearly believes that there is no mutual obligation owed by these emplolyers whom the Commission found, undertook no proper structured and recognised training of their cut price labour market. Well done Arch.
Now for the social reasons-Hey, Arch, 18 year olds have the vote-or did you think it was still 1971? Baby, why should one group of citizens in this counrty be expected to cop ongoing and unacceptable discrimination. What next, homemakers wages? Now for the last and perhaps the most ironic (sorry to use this post modern linguistic treasure).
Lets see the political scorecard-my estimate is as follows:- For a score of ten, this decision rates as follows:
- Dems 10/10-they look caring and sharing once again;
- Reith 6/10-he can crow about a win against the unions and and show the ALP as being swayed by the tacky and tawdry arguments his government used in the Inquiry into junior rates;.
- ALP 0/10-they look weak, opportunistic and desperate. They have handed the Democrats back an opportunity to look good after the GST debacle, and provided Reith with another opening. Worst of all, this is the party that will need the votes of young people at the next election.
Hey, I can see it now-'ALP backs discount votes for 18 year olds" Get real!
Please withold my name for publication.
While I am at it what about NSW LC hosting an annual award for worst and most biased reporting and broadcasting about unions and the movement. It could be called the (S)PIERS and be a fat old toad cast in plasticine.
Seriously, these kind of events get good publicity, and it could provide a focus on just how biased the ruling class press is against ordinary workers. Remember the Ernies started with just four tables of women and idea was hatched in a pub somewhere. Now the publicity is great. Even Richo interviewed Meredith Bergmann today. Strewth you could have knocked me down with a bottle of '54 La Fitte!
Cheers and continue the great work with W's OL. It is my media fix each week.
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
A Catalyst for Change
Federal Employment Minister Peter Reith said it was a great day for junior workers and would ensure 200,000 youths kept their jobs.
The Youth Affairs Council of SA executive director, Mr Kym Davey, said there was no evidence to prove lower rates of pay rates stimulated employment in SA.
In South Australia "Despite the earnings of young people falling over the past two decades compared to adult wages, the youth unemployment rate in S.A. has risen from around 15% in 1989 to around 30% in 1999"
The Labor Party has completely ignored the Trade Union movement and their own rank and file members reguarding the question of youth pay rates.
Return to Canberra is proving to be the main purpose for it's existence and the electors are casting around for some alternative solutions to answer their frustration at their present political impotence. This, despite having umpteen ex- ACTU leaders who moved over to put posteriors on seats in Canberra.
Perhaps the time has arrived to consider producing a Genuine Democratic Political Organisation or Party that concerns itself about the interests of the wage earners of this country. A Genuine Democratic Constitution would put such a party in the hands of it's members and supporters. Democracy is the flavour of the XXI st Century world wide. New thinking for new times. The future of all working mankind and the whole of society may well rest in it's own hands.
Hi, I can't believe that anyone with half a brain would even consider a proposal like this
I for one won't be in it - to tie myself up to a deal like this in a technology that gives a better deal every 6 months.
In the states they are giving away free computers without strings attached plus free internet connection and no download limit
It won't be long and we get the same but the ones that are stuck with this proposed deal will kick themselves
I am well informed of what the IT is about and this thing stinks why not buy the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well?
Regards and best wishes
ACTU Site Not Conclusive
I went to the ACTU site but it didn't give me much detail. This sounds pretty impressive though:
"The Australian union movement today endorsed an exciting new initiative that means 2.1 million union members and their families will soon have access to affordable computers and internet access."
Because of commercial confidences I can't know the details of the deal at present but its going to be good for me I am told.
At the same time, what is a virtual community? As someone who is active at a community level I have found the technology is secondary to the objective of its use.
That is the part that I will find interesting.
Congratulations to Peter Lewis and Michael Costa two sane voices in a sea of confusion and misinformation.
The hypocrisy of Labor Council Secretary Michael Costa gob-smacks me. He professes to be outraged by the Kelty-Vizard IT deal Why? No independent analysis; lack of consultation, says Michael.
This from the man who has stitched up the "Currawong Beach Management Plan" thereby bypassing Labor Council Rules on how Labor Council property should be treated. This from the administrator who has refused to put Currawong out to tender but has championed but one proposal, the one from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This from the man who has refused to have a finance industry specialist ie. "independent analysis" develop recommendations to keep Currawong solely in union hands but run better. All these issues have been put to comrade Costa at his version of "consultative" meetings by delegates of affiliated unions like me. All to no avail.
Michael Costa is right. The Kelty-Vizard deal is shonky. Now he knows how it feels to see bad decisions like the "Costa-Maharishi" deal being made.
Yes and - More
Michael Purvis advocated a NO for the republic referendum on November 6, purely on the basis that "it's the wrong question" and "maybe we don't need a President".
The first point represents a victory for John Howard who strove hard to muddy the waters. The second point is just dealing ourselves out of the debate. Another victory for Howard, who says the present Constitution is the best.
Worse, Michael did not indicate any view about the potential to change to Constitution into a document that expresses our citizen rights, including workers rights.
This debate calls for determination and imagination. Voting NO will put a republic off to a never-never "inevitable future" that the next generation will have to achieve.
Voting YES and MORE will help change our constituional landscape for the better.
What About the Workers?
An Australian Republic - What will it do for workers?
I think we need to keep the republic debate in some perspective. For working people, Reith's proposed new laws have far more effect than whether Australia becomes a republic or not under whatever model.
Getting rid of the last vestiges of colonial ceremony is perhaps worthwhile but has little tangible meaning to working people being forced back into nineteenth century working conditions.
Late last century there was a similar debate before Federation. Melbourne Union pioneer, Chummy Fleming, raised the same issue: "When the movement for an Australian Republic prompted meetings in Melbourne, in 1888, at which even Monty Miller spoke in support, 'Chummy' asked the question, 'What will it do for the workers?' dampening the enthusiasm of quite a few.
Nevertheless in 1892, he was quite prepared to support an anti-Royalty resolution before 4,000 people on the Yarra Bank, where his 'stand' was already recognised as an institution."
From 'CHUMMY FLEMING (1863-1950): A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY' on the Radical Tradition website: http://members.xoom.com/takver/history/chummy.htm
in solidarity, Takver
We are not workers, we are all in receipt of the DSP pension formally 'invalid pensioners'.
Up until yesturday we had planned a 'National Consumers Conference' and Minister Newman was sending her Officers down to answer concerns that were being raised so that people would know what to do about their problems and handle it.
It also was a way for her to have implemented in her next 'Centrelink Budget - what would be more humane to the vunerable of this Country called Australia.
The main issue was ( the new form the Independant Commonwealth Medical Officers use to assess whether an injured worker is eligable to go on to the DSPpension or even if a person who is in receipt of the DSPpension will remain on it)
Once things started to progress down the track and somehow the Minister got a gist of it, and with the advertising over the radio we had done. Just yesturday the Minister withdrew her consent to her officers being able to officially come to our conference and advise us on what the new changes were and how it would affect us.
It seems that if any 'centrelink' officers did come to the conference and talk then their job would be at risk.
Because of us not knowing exactly what is going on, it was decided by our executive that we postpone the conference for later when things started to show what we think it may be, like Aged pension will not be automatic at the age of 60 or 65 DSPpension will vanish and the welfare system will fade away and be a very dificult system to get into once you have no safetynett.
We are worried about this and have formed a 'Watch-dog Committee' to know what is happening and advise people in a telephone tree and mail-out plus over the 'internet' We also have our own Mail List too.
It is very concerning when at first it was alright for the Minister to be involved, then she changed her mind,
We wonder why and what are they up too.
Sincerely, Judi-Ann Leggetts, DSP Australia Inc, National Office. PO Box 2092 Werribee, Victoria
"The Internet is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the revival of labour internationalism in the twenty-first century and with it, the revival of socialism" Eric Lee, March 1999, in a speech to the Marxism on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century conference, Elgersburg,Germany.
Eric Lee normally lives on an Israeli Kibbutz, in the Galilee, a place where he became notorious as an early Internet class warrior. His most recent victory in the class war was to deliver to more than 700,000 British union member free Internet access.
From Kibbutz Ein Dor Eric Lee became famous in Israel, and around the world., as the editor for two years of the web-based BibiWatch which every Monday morning exposed the latest idiocies of the Benjamin ('Bibi') Netanyahu government.
The innovative use of the Net to promote BibiWatch attracted a lot of attention - especially in the 'old media' who regularly followed through, splashed new Bibi stories across their pages.
BibiWatch was also closely monitored by a nervous Israeli Prime Minister and his office. BibiWatch and other Israeli Left-peace movement oriented Web Sites played a small but important role in getting rid of Benjamin ( Bibi) Netanyahu's Government
Now in the UK Eric Lee has just helped to broker a deal between two British unions representing over 700,000 workers, and British Telecom, to provide free Internet access for union members. And he is well aware of the current controversy in Australia about the ACTU's internet strategy.
" The new communications technologies empower ordinary people by allowing everyone to do what once only giant corporations could do, such as publish daily newspapers, broadcast radio shows, participate in seminars with others from around the globe." Eric Lee told Workers On Line just before setting off to visit Australia for a lecture series.
In his paper to the Marxism in the 21st Century conference Lee notes that trade union bureaucrats were often slow to take up the opportunities of the 'Net. They are concerned that they cannot as easily intervene to suppress the unwanted debate that can occur in cyber-space - but would never be allowed to happen at a union conference.
Eric Lee arrives in Australia on Sunday to give talks on behalf of the Adult Learners Association to audiences in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle,.Canberra and Perth about the educating and organising potential of the 'Net.
Lee - along with a Canadian unionist Marc Belanger - are the Internet Gurus of the union movement. Lee wrote a seminal work The Labour Movement and the Internet: The New Internationalism ( Pluto Press, London, 1996).
Belanger was in Australia for the 1993 Sydney ACTU Congress.At that time most of what he said went over the heads of the leading lights of the ACTU, and his ideas were largely dismissed as eccentric and irrelevant. Eric Lee arrives in Australia six years later, in a completelty different climate.
The ACTU and many of its affiliates are now scrambling to be effective participants on the 'Net.
Lee has noted that just as the US defense establishment has expressed concern at the notion of 'netwar' to describe electronic warfare in the next century between rival powers it is possible to contemplate that 'netwar' will be an increasingly important part of class struggle in the next century.
Already in Britain, the USA and Canada there have been examples of union Web sites coming under what has been seemingly deliberate cyber-attack from opponents of unions who use this efficient communication tool.
On Wednesday September 8 the NSW Labor Council will host a talk called 'Organising in a virtual world'. And he will be at Gleebooks on Thursday September 9 talking about Educating and organising on the net. His other talks in Australia are entitled " Education online - the 'Net is about empowerment, not e-commerce."
Kibbutz Ein Dor, the Israeli Kibbutz where Lee normally lives, is loosely affiliated to Mapam - now Meretz - the major party to the Left of the Israeli Labour Party. As such Lee has done a lot of work for Mapam, working on its daily paper and serving on the party's Central Committee.
Eric Lee migrated to Israel in 1981, from the USA, where he had been an anti-war activist and worked for the American Textile Workers Union, Human Rights Watch and was politically active as a member of the American Socialist Party, promoting democratic socialist values in a society hostile to the "S" word.
After moving to Israel Lee, 44, worked out of the Israeli trade union movement's head office, Histradut, as the editor of the magazine for the International Federation of Workers Education Association. It is mainly as a result of his work for the International of the WEA movement that he is now in Australia for the Adult Learners Association.
The Israeli trade union movement - under the leadership of the Histradut - lags far behind most national trade union centres in its use of the Internet.To this day doesn't have its own website. This is even thoug Israel is the home of some of the most important Internet discoveries and new Internet communication tools like ICQ, Internet Phone, Gooey.
Eric Lee started in Israel his international web trade union information and communication service in the mid-1990s. But for the last two years Kibbutz, EinDor has lent Eric Lee's services to a ground-breaking London-based international union project - to see how the Internet can be made into an organising tool for unions, their members and working people around the world.
Labour Start, which is a project of Labour and Society International, funded by British unions is edited by Lee who now lives in the UK.
The LabourStart website ( www.labourstart.org) is updated daily with an international round up of working people's news from Asia to South America and Africa, including news from Australia, the United States and Israel.
During last year's wave of strikes in South Korea it was Lee's LabourStart which coordinated much of the international support for this repressed and hunted union movement, by supplying appropriate, well-written and readable up to the minute details about the dispute to individuals and organisations around the world.
Lee's LabourStart also provided valuable international campaigning support during the MUA dispute in Australia
More importantly Lee's LabourStart provides a marvellous on-line labour forum for union webmasters to swap ideas about using the web as an organising tool.
His visit to Australia should help kick along the debate about what the best strategy for unions to empower their members, and all marginalised peoples, in the new information technology age.
In Melbourne next Friday Eric Lee will be available twice to union members and activists. During the day he will speak at TUTA on the topic - Organising on the Web-Best International Practice, A practical look at what unions are doing on the web, what works and why. In the evening the Fabian Forum is hosting an even at the New International Bookshop at Trades Hall.
Eric Lee will give a public lecture this Wednesday, Septmeber 8 in trades Hall, Goulburn Street from 6.00-7.30pm. Free and all welcome!
by Peter Lewis
Why have you decided to get involved in this debate about how the union movement plans its internet strategy?
I set up Social Change Media eleven years ago specifically to try and help progressive organisations get their act together in communication and work for social change. I felt at the time, that the Left had good policy positions but very poor communication - meaning we were losing too many battles. Eleven years on I'm still doing the same thing. But one of the things that has changed in that time is the available means of communication.
A few years ago I started getting involved in the Web and the Internet because I saw it was going to have a revolutionary impact on the nature of communication; the nature of service delivery; and the nature of membership relationships. Through closed circuit internet-style communications the whole finance world has been revolutionised over the last 30 years as a result of digital communications. It is now no longer anywhere near like the sector that it used to be 30 years ago.
Unions and community organisations of all sorts are about to go through the same massive change so I'm concerned that we really think hard about it - that we take advantage of it, and that it can all work towards a better world, which is the thing that Social Change Media tries to do, rather than a world which is further agglomerised into competing sets of commercial entities with not enough attention given to social issues.
Of course, the majority of the ACTU Executive would no doubt argue that that's all very fine, but the point is that there is information rich and information poor and our job is to make our members part of the information rich by giving them computers. What's wrong with that argument?
Well there's a short term and a long term argument. Between now and the middle of next year, sure, I think the union movement should help it they can or if they want to, in spreading the word about what good deals are available.
There are 1,001 deals on the market and coming up and they change month by month, unions may have a duty of care to spread the word about what those deals are. But aligning yourself with one particular deal for more than a year is a tricky business. I mean, choosing which one is going to triumph when, in my own mind I've got three entirely different scenarios between now and next year as to which technology is going to prove to be the cheapest and best access technology, let alone the fact that I think telephone companies are going to offer free internet access anyway.
Well, give us those three scenarios.
Well, one of those scenarios is a games machine led access to the Internet. That is that Sony Playstation wheels out a playstation with full internet access and swamps the market with cheap devices.
A second one is that Web TV does work. I think it's a farfetched one, but if it does work it'll be a cheaper way of getting on the computers.
The third one is that the cost of computers continues to drop exponentially over the next 18 months to become giveaway items and there is some indication that this might actually happen. Particularly, as computer access gets subsidised by the Telcos and the like.
So there are at least three different hardware scenarios before I start talking to you about Internet access scenarios. I do think there is a benefit in spreading the word to members about the cheapest deal and trying to encourage cheap deals, but just make sure that you are not locked into anything long term.
So, it's a bit like the old Beta -v- VCR model at this stage?
Yes, I wouldn't want to take a bet just yet. The more important issue is that you need to understand what some of the certainties are about five years down the track when you are making decisions about what to do in the next six months.
And I'll tell you what a couple of those certainties are: A couple of days ago I went to a seminar run by Lucent Technologies which runs Bells Labs from the States, the largest research institution in the world. One thing became absolutely clear to me by the end of that session. That everything I've ever thought about connectivity was in fact going to happen. That is, in 5-8 year's time things like bandwidth will be not an issue. TV down telephone lines will be easy.
We're going to get the most extraordinary jump in widespread availability of computing technology. You have microchips now that sit on the point of a pin. You're going to have devices - all sorts of purpose built devices - including the home telephone, that will be much more than a full-scale Pentium 3 computer now. You're going to have ten foot high wallpaper display screens. You're going to wear clothes made of micro-optic fibres that let you take images via the Internet, downloading a new image each day.
You're going to have a vast variety and range of very very cheap hardware ways of receiving computing and Internet messages. Your whole house will be wired up through the electricity lines. You plug a computer into a power point or a telephone into a power point or whatever, and it's automatically connected. Or maybe it will be wireless. There's 10001 ways of connecting and computing.
Any kind of device you can imagine will be able to be used to communicate and compute, because it will be connected to the Internet. And they'll be cheap. Incredibly cheap, in the sense that people will be handing them out in the same way Time magazine gives away free watches for a subscription to Time magazine.
That's the order of magnitude of price that you're seeing about to happen. Recent technology has told us how just the amount of data they can get down an optic fibre cable has jumped a hundred-fold over the last year. That's the amount of data they can imagine getting down. A year ago they didn't believe it was possible. And that's happening in every single field of computing.
So, forget about the device you get - there's going to be a whole range of devices. It's going to lead to the most extraordinary industrial revolution that the world has seen in the last 1,000 years. It's going to be much bigger in terms of speed of change than the Industrial Revolution or the telephone revolution. We're going to see Third World countries leapfrogging the First World in terms of the nature of their communications networks. They're not going to bother with hard wired systems. They're not going to bother with land cable. They're already signing deals now with satellite consortiums to run their whole telephone network via satellite at a cheaper rate than we're paying Telstra.
All those sort of things mean that worrying about the hardware long term, to be frank, needs to be the problem of K-Tel. Not the problem of us.
So, what's our job then?
Our job is to worry about what the really important issue of that information poor and information rich problem - and that's information literacy. It's education. In the last 10 years the aid world and the World Bank itself has realised that the most critical thing that you can do to help poor people - people in countries like Bangladesh - is literacy. And more specifically, in those countries, literacy of women. If there's any one thing you can do, that's in fact the thing you need to do. To help them to learn to read and write and navigate through the information world.
Exactly the same thing now is hitting us. The people that are "information poor", as they're called now, are not going to be in the future "information poor" for lack of access. Any device they buy from any electronic store or the home handsets they will be getting free from the telephone companies, will be net-connected. Don't get me wrong - I think there is a political question about keeping a watchful eye over universal access. But we were never going to ensure all members had a phone by getting into the telephone handset business. It was a question for governments and we lobbied them.
The real issue is how the hell to use the new technology? How do you actually navigate through this vast morass of information to make sure you get a good deal - or whatever?.
I'll give you an immediate example. I've just bought a house. Now, I'm lucky because I was able to compare bank interest rates over the Web. And I found that on $150,000 loan I found a loan that was effectively $70 a month cheaper than the bank loans I was initially offeredI found it by using the net to comparison shop and it wasn't that hard. But admittedly I knew how to look. That's the secret.
So that kind of knowledge of how to navigate, translated directly into savings for me and that's wealth over time on a monthly basis. Someone who doesn't know how to look and shop and doesn't get help in that kind of ability to navigate through information will be worse off materially. Then multiply this in one thousand ways.
So the key thing we can do, as activists, as progressives, is support people with information literacy. How to actually find. How to navigate. How to question.
I do agree that we are about to go through a dangerous phase involving large disparities in access to information and, thus, wealth. Not because of hardware; not because of bandwidth; not because of access to communications - the physical access, but because people need to know how to actually use the plethora of information in front of them.
If you went into DJs and you had never been into a shop before, you would die of confusion. It's a learnt skill. Well, we are now about to take a big jump here. We are about to take a jump where the whole world is getting wired at an extraordinary rate. I mean, the number of people who have got connected to the Internet in the last five years is equivalent to the people who got connected to the telephone in its first 70 years. That's how fast things are growing.
We need to assume that in five years or ten years there will be, even if we do nothing about it, 95 to 97% - the same sort of access as phone systems - access to the Internet. But what are we going to do to help people use them properly?
And that's the $64,000 question isn't it?
The key thing we can do is to start helping our members navigate. Doing things like showing them what the choices are. Knowing what computer deals are that are out there. Showing them the different resources they could have. Showing them the job recruitment services they can get over the Internet - which are pretty substantial now. Creating "portals" or gateway pages that bring the most important information for members into the one place.
As distinct from trying to replicate these services. It's a mistake to create our own job services or to provide our own brand of computers. You know, it's going to be impossible for unions to compete in this wild market. But it is our role to try and negotiate to have gaps in service provision filled.
What about the old argument though, that the union movement has shown that it's not capable of running businesses so we've got to give it to professionals?
Well, I'm actually not convinced that we should necessarily be running "businesses". We should be negotiating for members the best of other people's businesses. I'm actually not necessarily a fan of the union movement getting into a DJs kind of retail. But I do think there is a really important need for the union movement to be able to help people to figure out which DJs and Grace Bros and Sportsgirl they should go to to get the best deals around. And that's the kind of "business" that it's important to us to us to be in.
What about issues around the actual nuts and bolts business of unions and organising though? Because you're basically talking about an E-Commerce model there..
What I'm primarily talking about is instead of the redistribution of income, the redistributing the means to income. Organising is a critical part of that process. So how can we use the web to support organising? How can we help members win workplace negotiations? How can we support workers to get their skills recognised industry-wide? Help them find resources of advice fast and easily. Help them figure out what others are getting so they know to ask for themselves. Help them work collectively. How do we use the net to get delegates talking to each other more? The net can be an enormously powerful tool in these areas. It's ours to make it work. We need to give members the where with all to make informed choices and decisions as distinct from aligning ourselves with closed choice models.
And, is that how you see the Vizard proposal?
My understanding of the Vizard - or is it now the Chris Clark ? - proposal is that it is a Microsoft Network model. Or at least it was a few weeks ago! If it is, then that means a sectioned off part of the web. They will sell a licence for individual providers who pay large sums of money to be the preferred supplier - and a large part of the revenue will apparently come from this. And then, whatever you ask for - let's say a home loan - you get that provider's home loan offered in front of you.
Now, that wouldn't have helped me save $70 a month on my home loan. I don't need to be sold off to the highest bidder because it has me as a supposedly captive customer, which is how the Vizard-Microsoft Network business model works.
Right. So, presuming this deal does go through, and it certainly looks like it is, is there any way out of it for the union movement or does that mean we are locked into the discarded Nine-MSN model?
I don't think unions are "locked" into anything at this stage. I think individual unions will obviously have to make their decision about what's the best thing to do for their members. The main thing they need to do is to think about how best they are going to be able to support their members. They need to be clear that the Internet is not some add on they can sell like free oranges to give away. It needs to be seen as a core part of their service.
In the financial services sector - and this will be exactly the same for the union sector - Ernst and Young are predicting that in five to eight years 60 per centof all communication will be by the Web. Now, if you're a union - and if 60 per centof communication is via the Web, as a core channel you want to control that.
You want to make it work for you. You want to have people inside your organisation managing it. And you don't want it confused by commercial messages, unless they're organisations that you actively support. Like union shopper for example. So, I think there is a real issue there that individual unions are going to have to look at in terms of making a long term decision about control of what's going to be the key to service delivery challenge for them, to support organisers and delegates.
Of course, I hope the final shape of the proposal may address this, but it's not a matter of an add-on; it's not a matter of cheap computers or cheap ISP. It's a matter of how a union delivers their core services to members.
by Liam Phelan and HT Lee
Militia gangs are waging a campaign of fear and intimidation. They are engaged in a game of brinkmanship with United Naitons staff, international observers and the media. The aim seems to be to frighten outsiders enough to force evacuations. Once the media are gone, there will almost certainly be widespread bloodshed.
Militia gangs roam the streets by day, setting fires and carrying machetes and knives.
In the latest incidents (Thursday), a group of militia men burst into the Hotel Turismo and roughed up a Canadian aid worker.
Earlier, around midday, we witnessed a local man being chased by three others. They sprinted past us, in front of the Government House, and the men running away made it to a street, which the others would not at first go down. They waited a few minutes before a truck came to pick them up and carry them down the road.
As we watched a young Indonesian photographer hurried towards us. He had been about to take a photo of the chase when somebody pulled a pistol on him and told him to go away.
Last night (Wednesday) there was a major gun battle outside the UNAMET Headquarters at Balide. Aitarak militia surrounded the area and burned down the house of a local UNAMET aid worker. According to the UN, there are two people dead, one by stabbing and one by gunfire. Journalists were roughed up during the attack, and one man had to be escorted by police past militia. He was threatened with both guns and knives.
Local people and the media retreated inside the UNAMET compound for safety. The media were evacuated first, and later UNAMET staff. The locals remained inside the compound and there are plans today to get UNHCR to assist them.
While were standing outside the Safety of Media in East Timor (SOMET) office last night two militia members approached. One of them physically threatened HT Lee by threatening to hit him with a helmet. The other man had a machete ready to strike.
Militia is targeting Indonesian journalists as they see them as traitors. Foreign journalists, particularly Australians, are also targets for the local gangs. The road to the airport is ferquently blocked and people turned back.
At night, the situation gets worse, with widespread militia roadblocks and intermittent gunfire. It is unsafe to move about.
On Tuesday, night CNRT reported militia killed two people in the suburb of Maescarinhas. This morning the local people fled to the Balide Church in fear of their lives. The church was surrounded by Aitarak militia.
Also, the CNRT said three people were kidnapped by the militia in Quental Boot. Their whereabouts or safety is unknown, but they are feared dead.
While hundreds of journalists remain on standby for evacuation near the coast, for the East Timorese of Dili there is nowhere to go.
FALINTIL's forces are staying well clear of the capital, hiding out in the hills to avoid any provocation with the militia before the ballot is counted.
Today, the United Nations Head of Mission, Ian Martin said that FALINTIL had surrendered a suspect in the killing of an Aitarak militia member.
Martin read out a statement from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan condemning last night's violence. "The United Nations will not allow the violence to deteriorate," Mr Annan said in a statement.
However, outside the air-conditioned hotel where this statement was being read, militia gangs were roaming the streats, and the police presence is completely inadequate.
What is needed is not for media to be evacuated, but for a strong international force to be urgently called in to restore law and order. The Indonesian army is either unwilling or unable to restore order on the island.
On Tuesday the United Nations announced that despite a widespread campaign of intimidation, the provisional turnout for Monday's vote was a massive 98.6 per cent.
The provisional turnout was consistently high across all regions. Even towns like Maliana, which had been virtually deserted before the ballot, registered a 97.8 per cent turnout.
"Neither fear nor violence nor intimidation can stop the people expressing their will," said a United Nations spokesman.
A United Nations staff member was killed in Atabe on the day of the poll. He had left the local office when a militia group opened fire with automatic weapons. Mr Gomez was stabbed in the ensuing chaos. He died one or two hours later from a punctured lung.
On Sunday, CNRT leader Ma'Hudu and FALINTIL Commander, Region 3 Riak were arrested by Indonesian police. Hudu was at the KPS Commission (Commission of Peace and Stability) office just about to investigate reports of a missing body. Eurico Guterres, Aitarak militia commander, burst into the office with a pistol and threatened to kill Hudu and Riak.
The police detained Hudu and Riak 'for their own safety' according to a CNRT representative. Guterres was not detained. Two Australian Federal Police, who don't want to be named, witnessed the dispute.
On Monday at midnight, the first boat came in from Denpasar, Bali and Kupang, West Timor. There were wild scenes as a crowd of around 800 people stormed the gangway, rushing to get on board. Bags, boxes and even mattresses were held overhead as the men raced up the gangway. A photographer hung over the edge of the gangway, his flash momentarily lighting the dark faces.
As we walked out of the terminal gunshots rang out. Everybody fell to the ground as police and army ran into the terminal. Up to seven armed militia had entered the so-called 'secure' area, unchecked by police.
One Sunday both FALINTIL and militia agreed that none of their members would openly carry arms. No-one was shot in the scuffle during the shooting, but a journalist was reportedly struck and the militia was allowed to leave the terminal without being stopped.
As we watched, militia with a variety of rifles, and one man carrying a pistol, rushed through the glass doors of the terminal and disappeared into the night. Police watched them. The men were following somebody wielding a knife.
For the people living behind the lines in a strongly pro-independence area, the tight-knit community is getting on with their lives.
On Tuesday we slept in a pro-independence house. It was unsafe to return to the harbour where the hotels are packed with journalists and United Nations staff, so the people here offered us a bed for the night.
Kids ran around the yard, playing games and singing. Neighbours came and went, bringing and seeking news of the latest events. Nine-year-old 'Mary' practiced her English from an Indonesian phrasebook. The foreign syllables catch on her tongue as she slowly says: "P-lease come in".
Her brother, Jose, explains that the family is anxious about the future, but are determined to lose the chance for independence. "Yes, we are worried, but we are also determined. The people have voted and the result must be accepted."
While the families here are obviously concened for their own welfare, they are equally worried about us. They have told us if there is trouble they will take us into the hills to the FALINTIL stronghold.
At night, they asked us to bring out things inside and put out all the lights. We sleep in our clothes, a small bag packed, ready to leave in a hurry. Sleep comes fleetingly in between the sounds of barking dogs, crowing roosters and rounds of gunfire.
What you need to do
� Australians should write to the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and urge him to take direct action to restore law and order in East Timor before more people are killed.
� Write to the United Nations and call for the Security Council to pass an urgent resolution to bring in peacekeeping forces.
� Support the East Timorese community in Australia.
Names have been changed to protect the identity of this family.
I'm Claire Hamilton and I have worked at KFC for the past five years. I have also been union delegate for that long, to the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA). My employment at KFC is covered by a certified agreement, which was negotiated by the SDA with KFC to deliver the best possible conditions and rates of pay.
The proposed changes to the Workplace Relations Act will undermine the protection which unions deliver to employees and leave them, particularly younger employees, vulnerable to ruthless employers.
Australian Workplace Agreements also leave young employees vulnerable, as young people often lack the skills or confidence to bargain for conditions, and speaking with management can be intimidating.
If AWA's were to work alongside certified agreements, individual employees who are prepared to work for less than the rate specified in a certified agreement will get preference from management because they are cheaper in dollar per hour terms.
As a delegate to the SDA, it is my responsibility to ensure that all new employees are informed of the union and its services. But I don't do this alone. Due to the existence of a 'union encouragement clause' in our certified agreement, my managers inform new employees about the existence of the union, and that KFC is happy for employees to join.
Thanks to my managers, staff are aware of the union's presence, and my role is to answer any further questions they may have. Without the existence of a Union Encouragement Clause, young workers will be too scared to join a union.
My workplace has 80% union membership. This has nothing to do with anyone being forced to join - rather, young people cannot help but to see how useful and helpful it is to have a union represent you.
In a situation such as this - with 80% membership - under the proposed legislation my workplace and any workplace with over 60% union membership would be deemed a closed shop. So what happens then? Do the last 20% who joined the union have to revoke their membership and therefore their rights?
The vulnerability of young workers is highly underestimated. We need all the protection we can get.
This is just another example of how the Federal Government is disadvantaging young people.
YOUNG WORKERS ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE WORKERS.
Reith's attack on unionism is an attack on us.
by John Passant
It's a question many in the Party and the trade union movement are asking after the ALP decided to support John Howard's youth wage.
There are two aspects to the decision. First, it is bad policy. With Peter Reith's move to individual contracts and his ultimate aim of destroying awards looking as if it may become a reality, the wage rates of older workers will be under pressure from youth rates.
A person about to turn 21 could be offered the choice of the sack or a job with their junior rates. Once they accept such a deal, other workers will be pressured to do the same thing.
The ALP will say that it won a role for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in overseeing the implementation, continuation or removal of youth wages from awards in particular industries. First, how much longer will awards exist to provide legal (but not practical) protection to workers? And second, given the present industrial and political climate, the AIRC will not be removing any cut price salaries from awards.
There is also no guarantee that youth wages will produce anything other than more profit for employers at the expense of workers' living standards. A controversial study in the US appears to show that low paid youth jobs have little or no effect on youth employment levels.
Arguably Labor have voted for a policy whose effect is to transfer income from young working people to employers without any benefits for the workers involved or workers generally.
Labor has argued that the majority of working people favour youth wages. It is unfortunate that policy is now determined by polls and not principle.
Labor could have successfully opposed the Government's proposals - the Democrats were united in their opposition - and then begun the process of patiently explaining to working people why they opposed youth wages. Instead of trying to convince workers of the merits of this opposition, they took the knee-jerk option of support.
But the decision to support youth wages is not only bad policy. It shows that the ALP is edging towards ditching its historic links with the union movement and turning itself into something less specifically identified with the working class.
One senior ALP politician justified the change by commenting that the ALP was not a party of union bosses. Actually, historically it is. Union leaders mediate between workers and bosses over the terms of capitalist exploitation, and that world view has reflected itself in the politics of the party those leaders created - the ALP.
The ALP is the second eleven of the economic elite. It is committed to the system but has working class "imperfections" which make it less reliable to the rich than the Coalition parties.
Some in the ALP now want to turn the party into an alternative first eleven for capital. This involves getting rid of the party's present links to the trade union movement.
In the US there are two specifically pro-capitalist major parties. This means that the capitalist class can debate issues without the fear of contamination from working people and their aspirations for a better life.
That is the model some in the ALP such as Mark Latham now aspire to.
These third wayists have been extolling the virtues of New Labour in Britain. The party there has cut the influence of the trade unions and retained and implemented Thatcherite policies.
To what effect? In regional elections in Scotland and Wales in May this year many working people responded to Blair's Thatcherism by voting for the nationalists. The SNP has been debating whether it should swing to the hard Left to take Labour's natural constituency.
Even worse, in the European elections in June New Labor lost half its seats and the Tories under the hapless William Hague scored their first victory.
With figures like these, New Labour is hardly a political role model for the ALP.
The turn around on youth wages was done without any consultation with the unions. It is one step in the process of turning the ALP into an organisation no longer based on the working class, or a substratum of that class, namely trade union leaders
The third wayists in Australia know the significance of the decision to support youth wages. It has moved the boundaries of policy debate even further to the Right and shifted the balance in the ALP in favour of those who would de-class the party.
Mark Latham, who calls the youth wages decision "sensible", could in time end up as Australia's first Bill Clinton.
The Left and the trade unions must fight this abomination, or seriously begin to consider setting up a political party giving expression to their ideas.
John Passant is a Canberra based writer
by Neale Towart
Older Workers and Employment
The Anti-Discrimination Board provides a summary of its submission to the NSW Cabinet Office which is co-ordinating the State Government response to the federal Inquiry into older workers seeking employment. Also a comment on the recent state wage case where, amongst the publicity about wage increases, the NSW IRC determined that an anti-discrimination clause will be present in all state awards automatically.
(Equal Time; no. 41, August 1999)
Employers arguing that they can not employ people with a disability because of the unjustifiable hardshiop imposed upon them (the employers) will have limited success, judging by the HREOC decision in a case involving the Australian Agency for International Development. HREOC found that the Agency discriminated against a job applicant recovering from occupational overuse syndrome when it refused to install "DragonDictate" voice operated computer technology. The Commisioner, in his decision, took into account the benfits to the employee, the organisation and other employees in having the technology installed. Also the fact that the agency was involved in aid work meant that the technology would raise the awareness amongst the agency and clients of disability issues.
(Discrimination Alert; issue 93, August 17, 1999)
A new insecticide exposure test has been launched by WorkCover that will give employers and employees early warning on inadequate or unsafe work practices relating to organophosphates.
Organophosphates are a widely used group of chemicals and industries most likely to benefit are shearing, pest control, fruit growing, nurseries, gardening, forestry and manufacturing.
(Occupational Health and Safety Update; newsletter 7, 5 August 1999)
A Social Conscience in the Global Marketplace? Labour dimensions of codes of conduct, social labelling and investor initiatives. Janelle Diller
Trade unions and NGOs have been able to gain leverage and publicity from the desire of transnational enterprises to increase exposure and market share by moving in a sociallly desirable direction. Companies like to use the image of endorsement from "worthy causes" in their quest for market share. Diller argues that the labour content of most codes of conduct is limited, with OHS privisions often in, but freedom of association and the right to collectively bargain are usually excluded.
She outlines a multilateral framework which could help private sector initiatives contribute more effectively to the upholding of social standards.
(International Labour Review; vol. 138, no. 2, 1999)
Marketing Human Rights
Simon Cooper, in Arena magazine, also addresses this question, from a more critical perspective, pointing out that multinational corporations are effectively being contracted by the UN to monitor human rights. Companies involved here include RioTinto, whose record in this area is appalling. Shell has also been approached, but have yet to sign on.
The UN approach is probably a product of the US refusal to pay $1.6 billion it owes the organisation, thus forcing the UN to seek cost cutting measures and removing any potential it may have to act as a thorn in the side of multinational capital. The UN is seemingly becoming a branch office of the World Trade Organisation, whose agenda is profitability.
(Arena magazine; no. 42, August/September 1999)
Trade Unions and Young Workers: proposing a new pathway
Judith Bessant notes that for unions to survive into the next century they will have to attract young people
� New ideas, future leaders to put pressure on an older generation are necessary. Other organisations like churches have been having the same difficulty in staying relevant.
� Attacks on wages and conditions are focussed on the most vulnerable sectors with the youth wage and work for the dole examples of the way the young are targetted and scapegoated by politicans.
Unions are having trouble attracting young people, but there is a potential to recruit with young workers suffering in precarious jobs with low pay and exploitative conditions.
Bessant notes that one response by young people has been increases in education with part time work alonmg with that study time. Her idea is that unions and their peak bodies should establish close links with educational institutions (as the ACTU has done with Deakin Uni) for the purpose of facilitating employment placements for students and graduates (TAFE and university).
(Arena magazine; no. 42, August/September 1999)
Working Time: Tendencies and emerging issues Gerhard Bosch
Working hours have become more flexible and less classifable over recent years and it is no longer clear that the traditional methods of measurement (daily/weekly working time - the basis of ILO conventions) are reflecting reality.
Bosch lays out the issues involved in flexible working including significant differences by sex. He also discusses educational attainment and economic activity, impact of unequal distribution of household work, incentives from tax and social security systems, changes in work organisation, collective bargaining and the connection between working tome and aggregate employment levels.
(International Labour Review; vol. 138, no. 2, 1999)
Substance Abuse at Work Leyla Alyanak
Drug and alcohol abuse is a growing problem in workplaces around the world. A recent conference in Sweden discussed ways of integrating prevention programmes with occupational health and safety plans. From an employer point of view, the problem is highlighted by US estimates that substance abuse costs $77 billion annually in lost productivity ( no mention that the employment practices of US bosses might have something to do with this).
(World of Work; no. 30, July 1999)
The conference "Immigration, Racism and the Labour Movement" has been organised by the Sydney Branch of the Australian Society of Labour History.
The one-day forum, to be held at Women's College, Sydney University on Sunday September 19 will feature a wide range of speakers including: Katherine Betts, Angela Chan, Jock Collins, Shirley Fitzgerald, Bob Gould, Mark O'Connor, Frank Panucci, Phillip Ruddock and Con Sciacca.
Organisers say the Forum will "provide an opportunity for an historical and contemporary examination" of issues including: immigration quotas, multiculturalism and racism.
It will climax with a debate: "Is Mass Migration Good for Australia?"
Registration fee is $35 - $20 concession.
For further details contact: Beverley Symons on 9799 6943
by The Chaser
Both the State Government and the Opposition have admitted that if such statistics were made available to the public in the lead up to the next state poll - due in March 2003 - the election would almost certainly have to be called off.
"A decrease in crime would seriously threaten our ability to run a policy-based election," the NSW Premier, Mr Bob Carr admitted yesterday.
Mr Carr is particularly concerned about his law and order policy "Vote for Chika and get Brutally Murdered" and his new taxation policy "Less tax, less brutal kidnapping."
The Health Minister has also admitted that Labor's health policy, "More emergency rooms for those brutally savaged by muggers" may be under threat.
The Opposition has admitted that there is no way it will contest an election with a public unafraid of crime. "We have leader who is less popular than Ivan Millat. Without crime we have no chance," admitted an anonymous Liberal. "Indeed, our polling suggests that our leader is so unpopular it would be a crime if she won. Therefore we definitely need crime."
The Liberal leader, Mrs Chikarovski is however remaining positive. "There's always the chance that there will be a particularly savage murder in the lead up the elections," she said "we've just got to be optimistic."
Political commentators are confident that the election will be held regardless of the crime statistics.
"Law and Order elections can still be run despite contrary statistics, they have been every other time," one commentator pointed out.
Nontheless The Daily Telegraph has apparently been contacted by both parties to see if they can increase their content of ethnic crime stories to assist with the problem.
by Mark Gregory
Railways seem to run right through the art of the industrial era as surely as the iron road spanned the continents themselves. This CD celebrates the poems and songs that sprang from Australia's railways over a period of 162 years.
"My sole address at present is a battlefield in France/ If it's ever going to alter there is only just a chance/ To dodge the "Jerry" rifles and the shrapnel flying around/ I've burrowed like a bunny to a funkhole in the ground/ The floor is just a puddle and the roof lets in the damp/ I wish I was in Aussie where the Sleeper Cutters' camp" DAN SHEAHAN (1917)
Most of the 31 poems and songs on this CD come from railway workers, while some come from our famous poets. Francis MacNamara, the convict poet, Henry Lawson, himself for a time a Sydney railway worker, Will Lawson, John Manifold. Two outstanding modern day poets, John Dengate and Denis Kevans, present the poems along with a couple of their own.
"Yes, the second class were waiting in the days of serf and prince/ And the second class are waiting - they've been waiting ever since/ There are gardens in the background, and the line is bare and drear/ Yet they wait beneath the signboard, sneering "Second Class wait here" HENRY LAWSON (1899)
The songs and poems have been culled from a much larger collection of writing, photographs drawings and cartoons that railway worker Brian Dunnett brought together for the Combined Railway Cultural Exhibition Committee in the early 1980's, a time when some government money was available for Art in Working Life events of all kinds.
"Janet Oakden, Janet Oakden/You should be very proud/With the odds stacked against you/Your spirit was not cowed" PIP JAMES (1976)
Railways were made giant in two industrial revolutions, steam and electric, and rational economists (as distinct from economic rationalists) still see in rail a solution to our transport problems as we enter the computer revolution. The loyalty of railway workers to their industry and its future has always been evident. It certainly made the railways an ideal breeding ground for in-group folklore.
"If you talk of locomotives and would like to know the star/ Step up here on the footplate for a trip to Waratah/ Oh, I drive the finest engine - I can prove the statement true/ They've neither man nor engine equals me and Twenty-Two" JAYVEY" OF MURRURINDI (1880)
Railways in Australia nurtured particularly Labor politicians. NSW Premier Bob Carr's father worked at the Eveleigh Workshops in Redfern, a place where over 30 State and Federal members of parliament began their working lives and careers. Railways were at times at the cutting edge of industry and provide through apprenticeships much of the training of a skilled workforce for public and private sector alike. Railway workers were, of course, a big part of the union movement.
"Well the Navvy has demanded a shorter working week/ And an increase in his wages, and made the bosses squeak/ About the mighty big deficit, and revenue being light/ But these excuses do not help the Fettler in his plight" ANON (1939)
These songs and poems come from railway worker newspapers, union journals like "Railway Union Gazette" and "The Railway and Tramway Officers' Gazette", agitational publications like "Magnet" and "Eveleigh News" as well as the field recordings and collections of folklorists.
"What deed can you account for, To gain admission here?"/ "Why I worked at Eveleigh Loco, until my dying year"/ The gate swung open sharp, as St. Peter touched the bell/ "Come in" he said "and take a harp, you've had enough of Hell" ANON (1954)
Trains of Treasure CD is available for $15 from: Rail, Tram and Bus Union, 83 Renwick St, Redfern NWS 2016
by "Playing the Man"
The title for this conference - Playing the Man - is an intriguing one to me; it obviously refers to some of the artifices and contradictions within masculinity. To me, however, it relates directly to my experiences while growing up, playing rugby league as a kid in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then (and, I believe, in a more hidden way now), there were two distinct ways rugby league was played: either 'playing the ball' or ;playing the man'.
'Playing the ball' is where you are concentrating on what the ball is doing and what you think is going to happen to the ball - where it is who has it and what they are going to do with it. Obviously, there are players who are better at this than others.
Fortunately, there is a whole other aspect of the game for people who don't have a lot of 'ball' skills.
'Playing the Man' - like masculinity itself - has become largely discredited at its most blatant. It involves a bit of biff, a punch-up in a scrum or behind play, preferably behind the referee's back. Most of the time, however, playing the man involves what is called 'softening them up'. Generally, this involves doing things that, while technically legal, are more often about hurting other players.
When I used to play, I was a forward - and I'd play the man'. Everyone knew it and accepted it as one of my jobs on the football field. It worked like this: at half-time, we would stand around sucking on orange quarters, trying to get our breath back, and the coach would come up to me and say, 'Caesar!' Actually, he wouldn't say it; he'd always sort of yell it. So, anyway, the coach would come up to me and he'd say, 'That little prick, the five-eighth, soften him up a bit.' Then he'd give me a wink and a whack across the shoulders.
Now, the bloke I was going to soften up would always be someone who was good at playing the ball and would almost invariably be smaller in stature. We would go out onto the field and , when the other team got the ball, I'd stay behind the play, stay behind the defensive line, and keep going with the ball's movement across the field, waiting until I thought the five-eighth, the 'little prick', was going to get the ball. And he'd usually be targeted because he was a play-maker.
When he was about to get the ball, I'd make my move, I'd try to pre-empt it so he was off balance when he took hold of the ball. And I'd hit him with my shoulder, the corner of it in his guts, knocking the wind out of him and driving him into the dirt.
I'd get up and smile at him, probably offer him a hand and, for the rest of the game, he'd be a bit off, distracted, wondering where I was on the paddock. I wouldn't get near him again, but it would hamper his game and his team, if only a little bit.
The reason I played the man instead of the ball was that I was scared of the bloody thing. It never worried me getting the wind knocked out of me, or a kick in the head, or whatever. Never worried me for a moment. But the ball scared me. I always knew I was going to drop the bloody thing, it would slip through me fingers as though they were covered in oil. I didn't care if I got hurt. I was terrified of looking like a dickhead.
In spite of being afraid of the ball, I liked it. I liked being out there. When I was playing rugby league, I knew who I was - I had a job to do, I knew what was expected of me and it was something I was pretty good at. It was about my physicality, my body, the lump of meat and bone and gristle that, in most other parts of my life, just got in the way. Being a big boofhead was a good thing on the football field. And all that stuff - the aggro and the hurt I meted out, and the hurt I felt - was real and tangible, and it made me feel comfortable in my body, comfortable in my maleness. I felt like I belonged to something and what we were - smelly, sweaty, often hairy and plug-ugly - was alright.
After the game, we would come off the field and the bloke I drove into the dirt would have a beer with me, have a laugh with me. The rules of engagement were completely clear between us.
Why I'm telling you this story, I don't really know. But I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere.
I wonder about those kids down in Bankstown, the ones that shot up the cop station. You have to wonder if, in that moment, when they were pulling the trigger, if they felt inside themselves, inside their bodies, boiling with hormones and sexual frustration. I wonder why the response to the situation is to say that kids need more parental discipline and the cops need more powers against them. Not many people are talking about all that energy inside them that needs to be channelled into something as pointless as a rugby league game.
I made a film a couple of years ago about unchannelled male energy. It was called Idiot Box. It was about two young boofheads called Mick and Kev who lived in a world that didn't really make room for them, so they made room for themselves. The did this by robbing a bank. As far as they were concerned, they were doing something positive. The key to them was in doing something, not just giving in. I was surprised by the lack of comment in the media on the issues that the film raised, surprised that something that I thought was one of the most pressing problems in Western society wasn't seen as important by anyone else.
I guess it takes real kids with real machine guns to make people take notice.
There is an argument that film is a medium of doing: a verb rather than a verbal form of entertainment. The masculine icon in films never really changes. John Wayne or Bruce Willis or a pre-pubescent boy in a big boat, they always do stuff. The concept of 'masculinity' itself beings to mind ideas like doing instead of discussing. It's a word that is thrown around a lot these days, usually as a pejorative term, and many of its associated emotions are thought to be, at best, impractical and, at worst, completely outdated.
I think that the ideal male icon in moving pictures for disaffected blokes is the porn star. For a lot of men, men who feel isolated, the idea that women want them for their physicality - just their body - is very exciting.
Porn stars don't have jobs or a lot of money. They don't talk about anything. They don't do anything other than have sex. Their bodies never fail them. They always have an erection, they never come prematurely. But, most importantly, the women are never let down, the men are never failures. They are never berated for being too fast or slow or rough or gentle. In this lurid world of boofheads and bimbos, the women are never disappointed.
So, a lot of men are out there alone with their cable sports station and their video tapes of blokes with big dicks and satisfied women, hiding from real women, scared of them, and scared that they won't measure up.
My first feature was called Greenkeeping. It was a film about a bloke who was stuck, couldn't get things done, talked to people a lot - and it was seen as a total failure. I'm trying to get a film made at the moment called Mullet - a story about not being able to leave your past behind. It is basically a lot of men and women sitting around in lounge rooms and pubs talking about, or not being able to talk about, what they feel. The funding bodies' response to it is that maybe it's not really a movie. Not enough happens.
With Idiot Box, get a couple of boofheads jumping around and shooting and carrying on, and I get five-out-of five on "The Movie Show'.
This is an edited version of the keynote address presented at the Playing the Man conference, held at the University of Sydney, Australia, on 13 November 1998.
David Caesar is an Australian director of feature films, documentaries and television. His films include Greenkeeping, Idiot Box, Body Work and Car Crash.
'Playing the Man' is available at the Union Shop
Each following week sees another two sides slip by the wayside. The efforts of the twenty-two home and away games effectively mean nothing. "Well, there's always next year." The philosophy of the eternal optimist, which is what you have to be to support your side week in, week out.
For weeks I've been telling anyone who would listen that the Swans are good enough to win the flag. Very few gave me the time of day. I pointed out that the Australians won the World Cup against all odds. I tried to tell people the Aussies could win and nobody listened. I only wish I had money on it. Still the smug sense of satisfaction was enough reward.
Conventional wisdom says that the winner of the Grand Final will come from the top four. Last year Adelaide proved the conventionalists wrong. Sure, a few things needed to fall our way. And they did. Except for one vital factor. All the Swans needed to do was win their last game of the preliminary season. And they went down. In a big way. I don't know how a team can come back from a "complete shellacking" but as a supporter it is hard enough.
As the season draws to a close there are the inevitable departures from the scene. This year is somewhat unusual in that two of those departures are venues. The last of the typical suburban grounds, Victoria Park, has seen its final game of top level footy. And a white elephant, Waverley Park, was farewelled.
It was the final act of an era. The bean counters and market researchers have won the day. The new venue, Docklands, will be a state of the art stadium with a closeable roof. And the powers that be have decided that the roof will be closed. Now this is sacrilegious: part of the game is battling the elements along with the opposition. Some of my best memories are of games played in deplorable conditions. These games were so absorbing that the discomfort was incidental. But they have the technology and they are going to use it.
The impending retirement of Tony Lockett will herald a new era for footy in Sydney. It will be interesting to see how the attendances fluctuate with the loss of the drawing power of "Plugger." The electricity that is generated in the crowds when the ball goes near him is a major factor of the atmosphere in a game at the SCG.
It is something of a paradox that the emotion surrounding Lockett's farewell is the contrast with that of his arrival in the Harbour City. When he arrived, the majority of Sydneysiders didn't know who he was. If they, did they didn't care. The Swans and the code were struggling. Just how close the club was to extinction was only revealed later. But those who did know who he was were horrified. "We don't want that thug" was the most common response. I've never been able to work out whether the city tamed the man, or the man tamed the city. Whichever way it was the Swans current success coincided with the arrival of the man.
The debt that Rules in Sydney owes Tony Lockett is immeasurable. He has, to a large extent, firmly planted the game in the minds - if not the hearts - of Sydney. This is not to belittle the huge efforts others have put in. The likes of Ron Barassi, who probably did more than anyone else to save the Swans from going down the gurgler, Craig Davis, CEO of the (NSW) AFL, or anybody associated with Aussie Rules in this town. It just that everyone knows of Lockett and knows what he's achieved. He has become, at the very least, the face of Rules in Sydney.
One thing he hasn't done, and would dearly love to do, is be in a premiership winning side. This is his last chance to do it. As I try and shake off the gloom of last week's result, I am beginning to wonder if this could be enough of an inspiration to the side to lift and "do it for Tony." Logic says no, but the eternal optimist refuses to die. Anyway, as they say "footy's a funny game."
Whatever the outcome, when the time comes I will gladly say "Thanks Big Fella. For everything."
by Peter Zangari and Paul Howes
Early morning courier drivers have been on their shifts for a few hours. One driver parks his van in a truck zone and heads across the road to Moors for the usual cup of coffee. Meanwhile the padlock on the door of the Union NSW Organising Centre has been unlocked and the Centre is soon open for another day of union activism and organising.
Welcome to the Unions NSW Organising Centre. The Union Hotline 1800 688 919 is linked to the shopfront and here you will be able to wander in from the bustle of Sussex street and have your inquiries handled by a Shopfront Organiser.. There has been a broad cross-section of membership inquiries which ranges from waiters, chefs, clerks and nurses to storemen, bike couriers, spray painters and even mobile pet groomers!
The Workers Compensation Referral Service is also now up and running with the cooperation of several Labor Law Firms. The service has received calls from workers from a whole range of industries inquiring bout their rights in Workers Compensation.
The firms participating in the service all have years of experience in workers compensation and always put the workers interests first. A lot of workers inquiring with the service find this approach as being something of a rarity after dealing with sleaze merchants whose only interests were their own pockets. The service is free to union members, another reason why it pays to be in a union.
Living in the age of technology people expect results quickly. Half-hourly internet usage is available free for union members through the centre. Jump on the Internet and at the DIR website you can access the updated rates for most private sector awards. At ABC.NET you can find out the latest breaking news around Australia and at CitySearch you can find out all the events happening in Sydney this week. If you walk into the Organising Centre or phone the hotline 1800 688 919 and are a union member, legal and financial advice can be arranged on the spot. But if you aren't a union member and want to join, don't despair because you can be referred to the relevant union just as quickly.
What can you expect to get out of the Organising Centre? First of all the idea of a shopfront combats the well nurtured bias that unions are not accessible. The centre is accessible as any other shopfront on the street. The presence of a Unions NSW Officer at the front desk provides the nexus between a curious public and a union movement ready and willing to service its members. Potential members do not want to be given the run around, they just want to be represented.
Second, judging from the first four weeks response, the Organising Centre is definitely a step in the right direction for organised labour in Australia. A series of advertisements in the mainstream media are starting to play an educative role for those outside the movement. With every problem or enquiry that we field at the Centre comes the opportunity to organise around a particular workplace issue. The union movement which has been in decline for the past 20 years has not fared well from the bias in the media. Coverage in the media for a trade union usually translates as a disruptive obstacle to productivity. The widely held view for many workers is founded on the principle that unions do not have a place in society. With a significant proportion of the workforce dependant on safety net adjustments , the public has taken for granted the work of unions in the past and their relevance in protecting the interests of the low-paid.
This new venture into the public arena cannot be a bad thing. The industrial climate has been changing and so too have the strategies of organised labour. Who knows, there might be a shopfront popping up around the corner from you in the not too distant future. Given this, merely relying on a public face is not enough to survive in the confrontationalist environment that the employers have been advocating. Unions must be proactive in their activities to ensure their survival.
Sure its only been in its inaugural month of operation but there are signs that the Centre will be a success. The phone calls about workers compensation and membership have been steadily streaming in as have the potential members off the street. Many unions are now using the slogan "Its your union" well the same goes for the shopfront "its your shopfront" and it can be anything we want it to be. So drop in next time your in Sussex Street and have a chat to us and find out what your union can do for you as well as what can you do for your union.
But the last people they would have expected to jump into the ring were Peter Reith's conservative cheer squad who have railed so long and hard against the notion that it may be discriminatory to structure a wages system on the basis of age.
Think again boys. When it comes to the choice between approving a policy position you have previously advocated and scenting some blood from your political enemies, they will always go in for the kill.
Take Piers' work this week. It may have been contradictory, transparent, bitter and twisted but it is a warning to Labor of the dangers of pandering to a right-wing media - because even when they agree with you, they won't.
A far as Piers is concerned, the youth wages deal is not just about the issue of whether or not you should be paid according to your age, but a repudiation of 100 years of Labor. By cutting one deal, all principle is now dead.
"After years of thinking that federal Labor actually stood for something we learn that it stood for nothing," Piers trumpets.
"Its policies were foistered upon it by thugs and brutes, bullies and naysayers from the left before it capitulated and obsequiously fell into line." We think he's talking about us.
But he doesn't stop there. He manages to bring in the idea that this supposed repudiation of history leaves labour's traditional social justice base disenfranchised. Railing against "the basket-weavers and thespians" who "baaed and bleated their support for Labor during recent elections".
We think he's referring to the myriad of groups who have publicly backed Labor in the Nineties, largely because of their progressive and tolerant social policies which have stood in stark contrast to the cynical wedge politics of their opponents.
He concludes by predicting Beazley's total overhaul of Labor policy, although to where is unclear, given he concludes by regurgitating Neal Blewett's recent reference to the Opposition leader's timidity.
It's a classic debating tactic - build the straw man then blow him down.
Of course,. there's a more interesting analysis that Piers ignores - the innate tension between a Party founded on ideals and the reality of daily politics. And at a time when the union movement is transforming, the challenge for its political arm is even greater.
A conflict over an issue like youth wages is newsworthy because it highlights these changing priorities. In the absence of an Accord arrangement, the fluidity of the labour movement's political and industrial ties will continue to shift - although always within a framework of the recognition of mutual interest.
It's an issue ripe for a searching analysis. Pity it was left to Piers to do the job.
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/29/print_index.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005