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Issue No. 307 19 May 2006  

Open for Business?
While our focus in recent months has rightly been on the federal political arena, the first skirmish in the battle for rights for NSW workers will occur at the state election, due in just nine months.


Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Reverend Jim Wallis is leading a crusade to take the moral debate into the public arena.

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Government has begun a series of workshops to sell its WorkChoice vsision. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Lockout!
Jim Comerford’s eyewitness account of the 15-month Lockout of 10,000 New South Wales miners in1929-1930 records the inside story of Australia’s most bloody and bitter industrial conflict

Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Professor Ron McCallum argues the WorkChoices laws are built on a fundamental fiction.

Politics: Labor Pains
Labor has dealt itself out of the crucial workplace relations debate by failing to articulate a credible policy alternative to Howard’s new WorkChoices legislation, argues Mark Heearn and Grant Michelson

Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Evan Jones pays tribute to John Kenneth Galbraith, a big man who never stopped arguing that economics should serve the public good, not create public squalor.

Corporate: House of Horrors
Anthony Keenan takes a tour of Sydney’s notorious, Asbestos House, courtesy of Gideon Haig.

History: Clash Of Cultures
Neale Towart with a new take on Mayday through the words of a punk icon

International: Childs Play
An ILO report into Child Labour shows some progress is being made to curb this gobal scurge .

Culture: Folk You Mate!
Phil Doyle dodges Morris Dancers to find signs of Working Life at the National Folk Festival in Canberra over the Easter Weekend.

Review: Last Holeproof Hero
Finally, a superhero who has worked out how to wear his underpants. Nathan Brown ogles V for Vendetta


 Laughing All The Way To MacBank

 Perth Apartments Go Like a Bomb

 AWAs - Just Say No!

 Andrews Puts Contracts on Families

 Safety Laws Mine New Depths

 Builder Threatens Homes

 Beazley to Halt Maxi-Scam

 Umpire Stumps Minister

 Worker Dumped Over Casual Affair

 Councils Trash Workers

 Union Journo Escapes Fiji

 Canucks Crash Howard’s Party


The Soapbox
Albo's Meltdown
Labor's environment spokesman Antony Albanese argues that Chrernobyl is one reason why the ALP should stand firm on nuclear.

The Locker Room
A Sort Of Homecoming
Phil Doyle plays to the whistle.

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West reports from Macquarie Street on some strange collective acction.

 Psychometric Testing for Bullies
 Pleased with Beazley
 What is Working Class
 National Day of Protest
 Tax Cuts
 Independent Contractors
 Drought Proofing
 Higher Profile for Labor
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Campaign Diary

National Day of Protest

In early April a Victorian unionist mailed me leaflets for the June 28 Workers & Community National Day of Protest. The leaflets, produced by the Victorian Trades Hall Council, call on workers and the community to assemble at one of four locations and march onto the Melbourne city centre. In inspiring bold red print it reads, "Together we are unbreakable!"

Again, Victorian unions have distributed posters and leaflets three months prior to their Day of Protest. This is one reason why they could mobilise over 100 000 people for the 2005 November 15 rally.

Sadly this isn't the case in NSW. Unions NSW secretary, John Robinson, was vehemently opposed to a June 28 rally in Sydney. A compromise was eventually struck with a Blacktown rally being organised, the most marginal electorate in NSW. While this is terrific for workers in western Sydney, thousands of people opposed to the new IR laws can't participate. This strategy demobilises people as it attempts to channel their anger into a just vote Labor campaign.

Unions WA has refused to endorse the ACTU National Day of Protest. Consequently WA blue collar unions are forced to organise the rally themselves.

Unfortunately, sections of the union leadership are diverting our campaign to a "Just Vote Labor" strategy. Similar marginal seat campaigns in 1998, 2001 and 2004 all failed. This led to demoralisation and pessimism within the ranks making it easier for the Coalition to deepen its attacks.If Beazley's popularity and performance is any indication, we are doomed. What's our strategy in the likely event Labor isn't elected? Let me guess, a 2010 election campaign.

If elected, there's no guarantee that Labor will repeal the legislation unless the union movement keeps campaigning to defeat it on the ground. Beazley refuses to abolish AWAs. Without an industrial campaign and mass protests the best Labor will do is to merely ameliorate the worst aspects of the legislation.

Many agree we need national stoppages to defeat these laws. We're warned not to compare the successful French IR campaign with our own. Australia union density is more than double that in France; however their campaign of escalating industrial action, not lobbying, defeated the anti-worker laws within a month. Howard hopes our union movement won't organise national stoppages.

We can defeat Howard's IR laws and rebuild our unions. We must not rely on Labor to do it for us.

John Gauci, NSW


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