||Issue No. 315||14 July 2006|
Give Truth A Chance
Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
Unions: Staying Mum
Economics: Precious Metals
Industrial: The Cold 100
History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
Legal: Free Agents
Politics: Under The Influence
International: How Swede It Was
Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
The Locker Room
Howard vs World
Tough as ABC
25 Years On the Grass
Tetsuro Tanaka, a union activist at telecommunications equipment manufacturer OKI Electric, has kept a daily vigil of his former workplace for a quarter of a century.
Every morning he sings and plays guitar at the factory gates, spending an entire day there once a month on the anniversary of his sacking.
Tanaka wields his guitar, singing about attacks on unions, the corporate undermining of mateship, and the loneliness of the sacked worker. For an income he relies on music teaching and concert dates at union and folk gigs.
He has been presented with human rights awards, sung at union concerts, provided support for other sacked workers and, as recently as last month, was being forcefully evicted from an OKI shareholder's meeting.
Last month he gave moral support to a protesting schoolteacher, suspended without pay for refusing to stand and sing the national anthem.
Tanaka says the compulsory callisthenics was less about fitness and more about conformity, and the companies actions were simply a ruse to get rid of him for being a union troublemaker.
Recent media reports claim Tanaka's troubles started when management identified him as a union activist after he also objected to forced redundancies and complained that managers were bullying his workmates.
OKI, who sponsor the St George Illawarra Dragons NRL club, presented Tanaka with two options, take a job a long way from his home, or 'agree' to be fired. He took neither, instead taking up his stand outside the factory gates in a ritual that has become so regular, local schoolkids time themselves by Tanaka's presence - if he's still singing they aren't late for school.
"The most important thing is not to think of yourself," Tanaka recently told the media. "Don't protest selfishly, don't think of yourself. The conclusion to a life of selfishness is unhappiness. Clever people profit by helping others. Recently I have felt very happy. Fired people have no retirement age."
Sydney documentary maker, Maree Delofski, is making a film entitled Mr Tanaka Will Not Do Callisthenics.
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