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Issue No. 334 24 November 2006  

Itís Who The Economy Works For, Stupid
As the movement prepares for the National Day of Action on November 30, we embark on the third, final and, perhaps most difficult phase of the Rights at Work campaign.


Interview: Common Ground
Nature Conservation Council director Cate Faehrmann on the fight against global warming and how unions and greens can learn from each other.

Industrial: A Low Act
The Low Paid. The Fair Pay Commission knows who pays them. We can do something about it as they will not.

Unions: The Number of the Least
Forget 666 - 457 is looming as the scariest number for Aussie workers and their families, Jim Marr writes.

Politics: The Smoking Gun
Hayek's henchman, Raplph Harris, goes to free market heaven, writes Evan Jones

Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
They are supposed to ensure the wealth of well-being of individuals. Whats wrong with that? asks Neale Towart

Environment: Low Voltage
Nuclear Power and Prime Ministerial pronouncements are seriously short of a few volts, wrties Neal Towart

History: The Art of Social Justice
Tom Martin was a terrific cartoonist and part of a great tradition in labour movement history and culture, swrties Neale Towart.

Review: Workís Unhealthy Appetite
It pays the bills Ė usually Ė but going to work should come with a warning, wrties Jackie Woods.

Culture: A Forgotten Poet
There is little information on the public record about the radical working class poet Ernest Antony, writes Rowan Cahill.


 OWS: Cash for Query Scam

 Watchdog Bites Own Pups

 Silver Lining to Qantas Storm

 Wages Heading South Under WorkChoices

 Hardies Finally Coughs Up

 Face Up to Save Harbour

 STOP PRESS: Workers Docked for Meeting Pollies

 Telstra Redundancies ĎInhumaneí

 AWAs Carpeted

 Contracts Shut Down

 ILO Gets Tough on Forced Labour

 Houston Win Sparks Hope for New Era

 Full List of November 30 Venues


The Soapbox
Robbo Goes Green
John Robertson's speech to the Walk Against Warming

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes a look at a former public institution and its contribution to NSW.

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Itís Who The Economy Works For, Stupid

As the movement prepares for the National Day of Action on November 30, we embark on the third, final and, perhaps most difficult phase of the Rights at Work campaign.

From the moment John Howard unveiled his nasty plans, there has always been three stages that needed to be navigated - awareness, impact and solution.

Tracy, the mum in the TV ad being dragged into work, bought awareness into the nation's lounge rooms and took ten points off the PM. The government's own ham-fisted $56 million campaign shaved another ten. Awareness of changes went from less than 10 per cent to more than 90 per cent in a matter of months.

The real victims of WorkChoices charted the impact across the workforce and, despite some of the conservative boosters saying the issue hasn't really bitten, WorkChoices is being implemented with the spread of AWAs and arbitrary sackings and while few workers will put their heads up, everyone seems to know a victim.

Which brings us to November 30 and the launch of the political phase of the campaign; the phase where unions must entrust the industrial movement's political wing on delivering a government that will restore rights at work.

The mistake as we enter this phase is thinking of the Rights at Work campaign as being about the 'issue' of industrial relations. To be effective it must be about much more than that.

Rights at Work is a frame for the politics of the next 12 months - a frame that aligns the Labor Party with working Australians and their families and the Howard Government with the interests of big business.

This is an important distinction - if IR is just another issue, it can be swamped by the nuclear debate, or interest rates or whatever moral panic the Howard Government cares to manufacture.

But if it becomes a broader frame, these issues can be absorbed. Take nuclear and climate change - rather than being drawn into the science of fission, the pointed response is the Howard Government is putting the interests of the nuclear industry - that is big business - ahead of the interests of working Australians.

There are a whole series of issues that fit this frame - issues that are of broad community concern, but struggle for sustained oxygen.

From the skills crisis to off-shoring of local jobs; from section 457 abuses to private equity takeovers of icons like Qantas and Coles Myer scratch the service and in each instance, the government sides with big business against the interests of working Australians.

The challenge of the political phase of the campaign is to seize this opportunity and define the choice for the next election along these lines.

That means talking about working Australians, not the retro class cringe of 'middle Australia'; it also means discarding the language of 'employees' and bringing contractors and small business people into the family of Australians who get up and go to work each day.

Get these concepts straight and it won't really matter who is leading the show, the Labor Party has the opportunity to win back its base and end the Howard Era. It starts on Thursday.

Peter Lewis



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