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Issue No. 298 10 March 2006  

Home Truths
The truth has been breaking out in all sorts of strange places this week.


Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Workers Online speaks to the ACTU's Union Organiser of the Year, Greg Harvey from the RTBU, who has been using cutting edge ways to communicate with a blue-collar workforce spread across five states.

Industrial: How Low Is Low
Neale Towart looks at the much hyped link between minimum wages and employment

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Govwernment has begun rolling out workshops to inform employers on how to use WorkChoices. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Bad Medicine
Nathan Brown reports on how Australia Postís dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameronís demise may be premature

Economics: Long Division
Kenneth Davidson looks at a successful political strategy

International: Union Proud
A University of California librarian calls for union labels to increase worker visibility

Politics: Howardís Sick Joke
Phil Doyle looks at an attack on one of the great achievements of the union movement

Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
That mob in parliament house seems to be hopelessly out of touch with Indigenous Australia. So much so, that Graham Ring wonders if the House on the Hill is becoming a Ďcultural museumí.

Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.

Culture: News Front
If the owners are selling off papers, perhaps the unions should buy them says Mark Dobbie.


 Wipeout: Minchin Surfs New Wave

 Scoop-idity: How The Truth Was Nicked

 Howard's Bastard Under Lock and Key

 Bank Shops Skilled Workers

 Debnam Dogs on Libs

 Jacko: "I'm Bad"

 Computer Strike Could Crash System

 Builders' Cleavage Strikes Gold

 Andrews Cops Legal Buffeting

 Brough Love for Women

 CFMEU Aids Escape

 Hunt on for Asbestos Crims

 Unions Counsel Queen

 Guests Get Pizza Topping

 Download a Pollie

 Activist's What's On!


The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Hendersonís unique take on history

Westie Wing
Will Westie's Wings be clipped, or will the Hills Angels repent and deliver?

The Locker Room
The Heart Of The Matter
Phil Doyle rolls up the red carpet and celebrates the death of an old foe

 Howard, My Part In His Downfall
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Letters to the Editor

Howard, My Part In His Downfall

The Australian Liberal-National government is in a deep crisis over an enormous scandal about millions of dollars worth of bribes paid to the Saddam Hussein regime to secure sales of Australian wheat to Iraq.

The right-wing media have been trying to bury this government crisis behind a sickening celebration of Howard's 10 years in government.

This evening was the much ballyhooed ceremonial dinner for Howard, organised by the big end of Sydney at the Westin Hotel in Pitt Street, almost adjacent to Martin Place, the centre of Sydney.

An official Unions NSW trade union demonstration was called to replace the usual Thursday evening Unions NSW meeting.

The 1000 or so demonstrators gathered in Martin Place to hear a number of speakers. They then marched around to the main entrance to the Westin in Pitt St, where the they outnumbered the guests inside. They chanted slogans about the Howard Government's reactionary industrial relations laws for about an hour.

They gave a hot reception to the reactionary guests as they drove into the dinner.

Howard was whisked in the back door, giving rise to a chant of "back-door Johnny".

This event official trade union protest organised by Unions NSW had a very militant spirit.

Of the 1000 or so protesters, perhaps 100 or so were full-time union officials, another group nudging 100 were members of various socialist groups, and there were perhaps 50 Greens with their own placards, which means that the other 700-800 were fairly ordinary but militant trade union activists. The overwhelming majority of this group supports Labor.

There were several significant historical overtones to this demonstration. The major part of the Westin Hotel occupies the site of the old Sydney Mail Exchange, which in from the 1940s to the early 1960s was the highly industrialised and centralised hub of the postal service, with about 4000 staff.

It was the site of a number of industrial disputes. Eventually, a right-wing federal government closed it down and divided it into local mail centres, the ostensible aim of which was greater efficiency, but the real aim of which was to disperse the industrial militancy associated with the site.

As serendipity would have it, I worked there from 1957-63 as a young man, and I was active in the postal union and acquired quite a lot of industrial experience there.

A few years later, in 1965, the Vietnam Action Committee, of which I was the secretary, kicked off its effective public agitation by marching up Pitt Street from Martin Place towards Central Station, with about 1000 people (about the same number as demonstrated this evening). Just after the intersection of King Street, about 150 metres from tonight's protest, in a very calculated way we staged a sitdown, which threw the coppers into great confusion, because Pitt St was one-way and it took them quite a while to get in front of us.

Fifty of us were arrested, and the sitdown got massive nationwide newspaper and television publicity, which effectively kicked off the mass Vietnam antiwar campaign in Australia. This demonstration was described in an article by Helen Palmer.

Let's hope that tonight's protest outside Howard's dinner is the beginning of the beginning of the necessary popular agitation against Howard's industrial laws, including the legal case in the High Court, and the widest possible industrial and community agitation against the Howard's reactionary new laws.

Bob Gould, NSW


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