||Issue No. 333||17 November 2006|
Interview: Common Ground
Industrial: A Low Act
Unions: The Number of the Least
Politics: The Smoking Gun
Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
Environment: Low Voltage
History: The Art of Social Justice
Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
Culture: A Forgotten Poet
The majority's expansive use of the corporations power to over-ride defined limits on federal encroachment on the states speaks to the pervasive nature of the corporation in modern life.
That the regulation of workers and employers - and the operations of their industrial representatives - can be construed as part of the regulation of corporations, rather than the carefully construed limits to industrial relations elsewhere in the constitution, is the beginning of the end of states rights.
Because modern life. with its privatisations, corporatisations and public private partnerships has been so captured by the corporate model that almost all aspects of public policy - from retirement savings to child care, health and education - fall within their purview.
Ironically it was left to the court's most conservative and most radical judges to question this thinking - wondering whether there would be any rights for states at all - and warning that such an expansion of powers had been repeatedly rejected by the public.
What is clear, is that the notion of a Federation of States is history - the state systems of industrial relations that underpin competition between the states are terminal and the nation's economy will be less dynamic as a consequence.
What it means to the current debate around IR is less cleat - the High Court has departed the field when it comes to workers rights and without these limits, the federal government can do anything it wishes free of judicial review.
This will force the labour movement further down the path of direct political and community action - ironically, the areas where they have performed so spectacularly in recent times.
Politically, the mass mobilisaitons will continue - with the next major event just weeks away when workers will fill the MCG, and Jimmy Barnes will belt out his working class anthem in a program to be beamed to venues around the nation.
Meanwhile, Unions NSW has launched a ground-breaking initiative that will take the campaign into hitherto untapped areas of small business operators who want to give their employees decent secure jobs.
The fair Employers Scheme will see Rights at Work campaign committees around the state support businesses that to turn their backs on WorkChoices and AWAs.
There is a natural alliance between decent small business operators and workers - both v victims of the ruthless power plays of the big corporates who view competition and respect as commercial impediments.
By supporting each other - by choosing to do business with the businesses that treat workers with respect - the scheme could provide a counter-balance to the seemingly compelling logic of dragging down wages and conditions to match competitors.
In this way, the corporate interests protected by our highest court could just come undone by ordinary men and women who are building a high road on the high street.
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