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Issue No. 356 21 December 2006  

The End
In vintage Workers Online fashion we have detected a minor, but telling, factual error in last week’s missive/suicide note. It’s not a seven year itch – this is, in fact, the end of an eight year project.


Interview: The Terminator
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson looks back on the highs and lows of a year when the battle lines were drawn.

Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Jim Marr glances back through a year of news and discovers plenty of reason for optimism…

Unions: Breaking News
The web offered new ways of covering unions issues. Here’s ten ways Workers Online tried to do things differently.

History: Seven Deadly Sins
Looking back on our annual year-ender editorials gives a nice overview of the journey we have taken.

Economics: Back to the Future
Political economist Frank Stilwell looks back at a year that saw the passing of the drivers of two strains of economic thought.

Politics: Organising and Organisations
Organising for unionists can mean overcoming the “union”. The “rolling of the right” by the BLF rank and file shows the power of workers united to defeat the power of bosses and certain union bosses.

International: Web Retrospective
Unions and the web – What's changed in the last seven years? The short answer is – everything and nothing, wrties Eric Lee

Review: Shock Therapy
Unreconstructed Kazakhi journalist Borat is unleashed on the ‘US and A’ offending everyone – except the bigots.


 High Flyers Go For Gold

 Hospital Staff Prescribe Radical Surgery

 Holland Goes Dutch on Safety

 New Thinking to Transport Sydney

 Check Mate - Track Your Personal Info

 WorkChoices on a Trolley

 See No Evil, OEA

 Feltex Carpets PM's Fibs

 Workers Blood on the Walls

 Lift For Unfair Dismissal Campaign

 No Discrimination on Choice

 Vanstone Opens New Meat Market

 Activists' Notebook


The Future
So Where to Now?
Amanda Tattersall outlines her plans for Working NSW and the challenge of connecting research, communications and campaigning.

Gone But Not Forgotten
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1915-2006). His memory is still being honoured, writes Jim Marr

The Westie Wing
Our favourite politician bids adieu and hangs up his chestnuts.

 Hit For Six
 Kind Words
 Sorely Missed
 All the Best
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The End

In vintage Workers Online fashion we have detected a minor, but telling, factual error in last week’s missive/suicide note. It’s not a seven year itch – this is, in fact, the end of an eight year project.

Given that eight years is the maximum time a successful US President has to rule the Free World, we can't complain about our innings. In fact, looking at Australia's political situation at present, fixed terms seem like a pretty good idea.

So it is with some pride and a little sadness that we draw stumps in this our final ever issue of Workers Online.

It was an experiment worth pursuing, one that was conducted with the full backing of the NSW union movement and support from affiliates, both local and national.

As some of the offerings in this issue show, Workers Online has served its role in charting the fortunes of the movement, as well as trying a few things that may have influenced that story.

Eight years is a long time in politics; from internal schisms to the united front of Rights at Work; the Ansett collapse to the James Hardies win; the picket of State Parliament and the rise off the Sky Channel hook-up.

In eight years we have witnessed the professionalism of unions campaigning that today sees TV ads and branded logos delivering a consistent political message.

Eight years is a long time for a nation: from global terror to Tampa; independence for East Timor but not for us; from border protection to 457s, our national schizophrenia laid bare.

In eight years we have seen two ACTU secretaries; Labor governments triumph at a state level around Australia; five federal Labor leaders (one twice, two ACTU presidents and two NSW premiers, and two Labor Council/Unions NSW secretaire. We have even seen our sponsor change its name.

Of course there has been one constant - the Howard regime; a regime now facing up to its own hubris after attempting to kill off the union movement.

Why not hang around for the ride? Simply put, I am convinced we can do better work behind the scenes, not flagging our punches online; but backing in our troops in what will be the most significant ground war in a generation.

As for any final deep insights, only this: the most significant journey we have charted is that of the Labor Party back to its roots.

Eight years ago the ALP was embarrassed of its union pedigree; in 2002 it actually voted to trim them back; and at election after election the union strategy was to keep quiet like an embarrassing relative.

Howard was never fooled though - as soon as he had control of the Senate he took aim at the ALP's heart with laws designed not just to kill off unions but to eradicate their historical legacy.

And in doing so, he forced the ALP back to its base; not willingly but reluctantly, as it began to dawn on the machine men that the campaign for working rights was cutting to the quick of the Australian psyche and ending forever the faux partnership with Howard's battlers.

And state government after state government got re-elected on IR, for once with a clear brand in the public mind - the party that stands up for workers.

And now it is federal Labor's turn, to win the future by re-connecting with its past. Because that is what the punters really want - a voice that is their's.


Before signing off there a number of individual to thanks - principally Michael Costa for getting the thing going; Michael Gadiel for nursing it through its early days and John Robertson for keeping it going and Neale Towart for continuing to find petrol to put in the intellectual tank, way after my well had run dry.

A whole bunch of talented people lent us their insights and imagination over the years - in no particular order: Noel Hester (who also edited for a few months); Labourstart's Eric Lee, Andrew Casey, Paul Howes, Mark McGrath, labour historian Rowan Cahill, Frank Stilwell and Even Jones from Sydney University's political economy department.

And the EMC team led by Jim Marr but also including over the years Phil Doyle, Nathan Brown, Jackie Woods, Tara de Boehmler, Tim Brunero, Rachael Osman-Chin, James Gallaway, Nathan Brown, Paul Sheridan and Lucy Muirhead.

For me Workers Online will always be one of the highlights of my working life, a time when I got the privilege to be the voice of the movement. It has also given me the platform that means I now have my dream job, working with this movement of great, committed Australians to pursue the politics that I know, in my heart, are right.

Thanks to all our readers for your support too; I hope you agree it was a worthwhile project.

Peter Lewis




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