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Issue No. 303 21 April 2006  

Brand Spanking
It took the Easter Bunny, a couple of diplomatic crises and a bit of classic Howard wedge politics to shift industrial relations off the front pages, but if you think the story is over, forget it.


Interview: Head On
John Buchanan has been warning that WorkChoices would be a car crash. Now he surveys the damage.

Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
CFMEU Mining national secretary Tony Maher lets fly at the new industrial laws.

Industrial: Vital Signs
In his new book, Craig Emerson argues that destroying unionism will not be in Australia's long term interests.

Economics: Taxing Times
Frank Stilwell argues that there are progressive alternatives to the slash and burn approach to tax reform.

Environment: It Ain’t Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourne’s Hours
Neale Towart reluctantly pays homage to Victoria's celebration of the eight hour day.

Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
John Howard is deciding more and more foreign workers should come into this country - without the rights of citizenship, writes John Sutton,

Review: Pollie Fiction
For someone barely 25 years Sarah Doyle has an enviable track record in theatre behind her.

Poetry: The Cabal
Poetry returns to Workers Online with this rollicking ode to employer power.


 Costello Plans Super Swindle

 Control Freak Turns Hand to AWAs

 ‘Clean Start’ Sweeps Into Action

 Fleas Leave Andrews Scratching

 The $130 Question: What is He On?

 Howard Stings Liberal Mum

 Apprentices Assume Missionary Position

 $80,000 for Friendly Act

 David Phoenix Rises Again

 Rights At Work Worth Playing For

 Qantas Sackings Grounded

 Eight Hours Play

 TWU Boss Gaoled

 Activist's What's On!


Democracy in Action
Former NSW Premier Neville Wran's speech to commemorate 150 years of responsible government.

The Westie Wing
There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Soapbox
From Chaver to Cobber
John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

Postcard from New Orleans
Mark Brenner surveys the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina on the regions workers.

The Locker Room
My Country Right Or In Lane Five
Phil Doyle observes the golden shower at the recent Commonwealth Games, and asks what it means for the last great unpredictable drama.

Vale Bill Hartley
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill Hartley never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets, writes Bob Scates.

 Say No To Optus
 Lying Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them II
 What Tax Cuts?
 Belly Says It’s Time
 A Word Of Warning Stop
 Mexican Revolution
 Well That Clears That Up Then
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Brand Spanking

It took the Easter Bunny, a couple of diplomatic crises and a bit of classic Howard wedge politics to shift industrial relations off the front pages, but if you think the story is over, forget it.

Yes, the more trigger-happy employers and their legal advisers appear to have been scared off for now, but the law is the law and employers have a history of exercising their rights. Just give them time.

There are a number of factors running in the union movement's favour as they begin the 18-month project to hold the Howard Government to account.

First, the least the capricious nature of the laws and the inevitable impact they will have - on young workers, working mums, men in jobs who do not have an MBA to flash around. In short, each of the groups identified as being Howard's political base will cop a hiding.

Secondly, the level of political organisation already on the ground is far beyond the scope of any previous campaign. In NSW there are active campaign committees in five federal marginal seats and 29 regional campaign committees.

Normally the model of political campaigning around federal elections is limited to clocking off a busload of delegates and bussing them into a marginal seat to place ALP propaganda into letter boxes.

This is totally different - campaign committees are following strategic plan to identify workplaces, build activist networks and reach out to community organisations, galvanising and embedding opposition to WorkChoices.

They are not talking about candidates or votes, they are doing something more fundamental - building a movement that draws links between working rights and family and community, transforming IR from a technical process into, not just an economic, but a quality of life issue.

And then there is the logo: the ubiquitous 'Your Rights at Work - worth fighting for' branding, which is not just a key message and a call to action, but a campaign tool.

Across Australia, local workers and campaign committees are coming up with ways to get the campaign logo into the face of their community.

The logo is already being displayed on car stickers, T-shirts, telegraph poles, on billboards and buses, at stalls in local shopping centres, surf carnivals and community fairs.

This weekend the NSW ETU takes it a step further, with the launch of a sponsorship deal of the Nepean and Central Coast Soccer Associations.

This Saturday night at the newly named 'Your Rights at Work' stadium at St Mary's, the Central Coast Lightning and Penrith-Nepean United will lock horns in the State Super League - both teams wearing 'Your Rights at Work' logos on their jerseys.

The sponsorship deals go all the way down the junior grades and also covers women's sides - if you or your family play soccer in the Federal seats of Lindsay and Dobell - the Your Rights At Work brand will be in your face each and every week of the season.

Will it overthrow a government? Not on its own, but it's the sort of presence that can get inside your mind and ensure that when you do exercise your democratic rights you will not be easily swayed by the latest morsel the government throws in your way.

Those in government hoping the union campaign will run out of steam should be rightly concerned. We are kicking on.

Peter Lewis



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