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  Issue No 50 Official Organ of LaborNet 14 April 2000  




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Packer, Pratt to Profit at Unions' Expense

Billionaires Richard Pratt and Kerry Packer are among the investors set to reap millions as Virtual Communities, the firm established to sell computers to union members, rushes towards a market float.

The company established by Steve Vizard has secured more than 20,000 orders and is is currently being valued at more than $360 million, but unions will only get the crumbs from these massive gains, according to NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa.

A series of gushing articles in the finance pages about the growing value of Virtual Communities in recent weeks has only highlighted the bad deal that the ACTU signed up last year.

Packer and Pratt are among a group of speculators who have injected $40 million extra into the VC coffers in return for a share of the company

Along with VC principals, they now stand to be the big winners when the company floats later this year, possibly as early as August.

While union delegates have been acting as workplace sales representatives and union journals have offered free advertising, the union movement stands to secure less than five per cent of the company's total equity.

And still unanswered is how the company will make e-commerce profits from the union membership base, including how personal data will be used.

"What is emerging is the thing we have argued from the start," Costa says, "and that is that the ACTU has seriously undervalued its asset."

"The value is not in the hardware, but in the network of users - and that network of union members is the asset which we have under-valued."

Costa has called on ACTU secretary Greg Combet to re-open negotiations with Virtual Communities and demand a greater share of equity

"The union movement is about to make some very rich people even richer," Costa says.


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*   Issue 50 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: The Gospel According To ...
Green Bans legend Jack Mundey looks back on his days in the BLF and the lessons that can be drawn from that experience today,
*  Unions: Spinning at the Casino
In the lead-up to this weekend's historic strike, active LHMU members at Sydney’s Star City Casino have been making their own news.
*  East Timor: Rebuilding From the Nightmare
NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw travelled to Dili to get a first-hand perspective on the reconstruction work required.
*  History: Internal Democracy and the BLF
How the rank and file team that took over the BLF in the early sixties attempted to devolve power to the grassroots.
*  International: Towards Liberation
Zimbabwe trade unions are at the centre of the democratic struggle going on within the African Nation
*  Republic: The Referendum We Had To Have
Paul Norton finds some hope in last year's resounding defeat of the republic proposition.
*  Work/Time/Life: @work in the e-century
Marian Baird takes stock of how far we’ve come, or not come, in terms of our working life.
*  Review: Rocking the Foundations
Pat Fiske's wonderful documentary on the BLF should be compulsory viewing for anyone in the union movement talking about shifting to an Organising Model.

»  Sock Nazis Spark Casino Strike
»  Grave Fears Over Carr's Funeral Agenda
»  Packer, Pratt to Profit at Unions' Expense
»  Telstra Discrimination: 'Round one' to the Workers
»  Timor Fundraiser a Blast
»  Water workers flood CBD head office
»  Libs Plead for Help on IR
»  Employment National Workers Win CES Conditions
»  Teachers Deal Still Undone
»  Pressure Builds for Compo Pull-Out
»  Pacific Unions Increase Regional Ties
»  Ellis to Give May Day Toast
»  Special Comp: Just Who Are Our Friends?

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