Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 38 Official Organ of LaborNet 05 November 1999  




*  Interview: Peter Reith
We�ve fought him for the last four years, perhaps it�s time to try to understand him.
*  Education: The Boston Strangler
If the teachers' salaries "offer" had been any good, John Aquilina, the Minister for Good News Only, would have made the announcement and been seen to promote it.
*  Economics: Key Indicators
A new ILO publication provides real cross national comparisons which show that Australian workplaces rate very well on productivity, wages and non wage measures
*  Unions: Dili's Union Presence
The International Federation of Journalists� Safety Office for the Media in East Timor (SOMET) is conducting an investigation into the recent killings of two journalists in East Timor.
*  History: Maritime Dispute Records
A Joint ACTU � ASSLH project will identify and preserve as many records as possible arising from the 1997-98 Maritime Dispute.
*  International: Western Mining into Guns and Gold
An Australian mining company, Western Mining Company Limited (WMCL), has effectively won the support of the Philippines army in its battle with traditional owners in Southern Mindano.
*  Satire: Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene
Gay scientists today released a study which, they claim, at last identifies the �Christian Gene".
*  Labour Review: What's New in the Information Centre
View the latest issue of Labour Review, our resource for students, delegates and officials.

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Signing up for Sydney

Reith : Directly Elect the ACTU President Too
Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith believes the same principles that support directly electing an Australian Head of State should also apply to the ACTU President.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions Launch Search to Fill Games With Local Workers
The Labor Council will actively recruit workers for the Sydney 2000 Olympics to ensure local workers fill the lion�s share of the 40,000 jobs available, while receiving industrial protection during the event.
[ Full Story » ]

Public Servants Offered Quadruple Time for New Years Eve
The NSW Labor Council has described the Carr Government�s offer for public sector workers on New Years Eve as �reasonable�, although individual unions may seek variations on the deal.
[ Full Story » ]

If You Want to Protest - Dump the Preamble
Labor�s spokesman on the republic, Daryl Melham, has called on voters wanting to register a protest against politicians to vote down the Preamble rather than the republic.
[ Full Story » ]

Six Minutes To Clean a Classroom: Cleaners Draw the Line
Around 2,000 cleaners in NSW are set to go on strike over further cuts to their working hours which would leave them with just six minutes to clean a classroom.
[ Full Story » ]

New Labour Advisory Council Meets
Bob Carr�s new State Labour Advisory Council (SLAC) met for the first time this week, with the government�s handling of the teachers pay dispute the main issue of contention.
[ Full Story » ]

Teachers Pay Site Doesn�t Give Full Story
The NSW Education Department is censoring teachers� responses to the Internet chatroom it established to get feedback on the pay deal it has offered directly to teachers.
[ Full Story » ]

Bankstown Students Win Union Support
Students occupying the University of Western Sydney for the past week in support of a �log of claims� have won the backing of NSW trade unions.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers to Use AGM to Call Telstra to Account
Unions are asking workers who hold Telstra shares to let them act at their proxy at this week�s Annual General Meeting to raise critical issues about employment conditions.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions On Line Conference
The ACTU, together with the ASU, AMWU, LHMU, FSU, AEU, IEU and CFMEU are conducting a Unions OnLine conference on 15 and 16 November in Melbourne. The confernce is open to all unions, but registrations are filling fast.
[ Full Story » ]

Foxy Officials to Crash Backlot
MEAA are launching their FOX organising campaign simultaneously with the opening of the Fox Studio Backlot this weekend.
[ Full Story » ]

APHEDA is seeking to fill the position of Pacific Projects Officer working one day a week out of the Canberra office plus monitoring and development visits to the region.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Lines of Demarcation

  • Referendum? No Dam(n) Choice!

  • With Friends Like These ...

  • Get Real

  • Editorial

    The Trouble With Peter

    Workers Online this week takes the unusual step of interviewing the man who has become the public nemesis of the union movement, Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith.

    We do so not to give a platform to a man who already has vast resources at his disposal to get his message across, but to better understand what drives him to pursue his waves of radical reform.

    The interview was purposely done from a starting point of curiosity rather than censure, to push the boundaries of polarised debate a little and see how and where they might stretch.. The fact that Reith spoke for 30 minutes without using the term "quite frankly" shows that we broke through something!

    So what do we learn about Peter Reith? Clearly he is confident in his world view which sees ideology as dead - even as he preaches it. Despite denying the separation of labour and capital, Reith accepts the need for minimum protections for workers and the ongoing presence of trade unions

    His responses show that - unlike his PM - he does have a vision of the workplace of the future but, equally, he shows little appreciation of the journey required to get there..

    It's also clear he lacks a grasp of what the ACTU is trying to achieve with its organising model - he effectively advocates the Combet agenda through his observations that people want to connect to their workplace not to a distant union.

    Whether his responses are genuine or gloss, he has placed them on the public record and they can now contribute to a broader debate about the policies he promotes - based on his notions of what he thinks is right.

    So we make no apologies for talking to Peter Reith. At a time when unions are being forced to answer fundamental questions about their on-going relevance he raises the arguments that unions must address if their objectives are to prevail.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    John Passant's Requiem for the Left Greg Radley's Roughhouse Tactics Mary Yaager's Medicine for WorkCover Deface A Face



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