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  Issue No 55 Official Organ of LaborNet 26 May 2000  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: The University of Rupert
National Tertiary Education Union president Dr Carolyn Allport on News Corp's move into tertiary education and the Universitas 21 experiment.
*  International: The Unionist Who Sparked a Coup
Workers Online's Fiji expert Andrew Casey profiles one of the men at the centre of the crisis, detained PM Mahendra Chaudry
*  Unions: The Call to Action
The Australian Services Union is leading the push into the call centre industry. But winning these new workplaces is a major challenge.
*  Politics: Workplace Gladiators
Peter Reith as Russell Crowe? That's the image Labor IR spokesman Arch Bevis conjured up in a frecent address to the Industrial Relations Society.
*  History: How to be a Good Unionist
It's 1917, WWI rages and federal public servants are given these rules on how to dischare their responsibility as members.
*  Legal: The Price of Solidarity
Intimidation, threats and even murder still await many workers who attempt to organize in a number of countries around the world, says a new ILO report.
*  Review: Inconvenient History
In may be cold comfort to Republicans, but the vote for Federation was every bit as tempestuous as this collection of articles shows.
*  Satire: World Bank Caves In
In a victory for Seattle protestors, international monetarists have decreed that global utopia to begin immediately.

Water Rats Dirty at Reith

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Fiji Showdown - A Message to the PM

Fiji Faces International Union Blockade
Australian unions are ready to blockade Fiji should the terrorists kill off democracy in that country, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers Return to Dump Reith's Third Wave
Sydney workers will return to the streets on June 5 as part of a growing campaign to persuade the Australian Democrats to block Peter Reith's latest attempt to undermine the collective rights of workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Budget Raises More Questions than Answers
The Carr Government's failure to properly chart the level of need in the community has left a question mark hanging over Treasurer Michael Egan's $659 million budget surplus.
[ Full Story » ]

Teachers Finally Achieve Satisfaction
Teachers have thanked workers across the state for their support as their long-running dispute with the Carr Government finally moves to settlement.
[ Full Story » ]

FairWear Campaign Targets Uniforms
Fresh from successful campaigns with fashion designers, schools and surfwear, FairWear is gearing up for a push to ensure that Australian workers wear uniforms free from exploited labour.
[ Full Story » ]

Rio Tinto Appeals for Industrial Peace
The global campaign against Rio Tinto is beginning to bite, with corporate chiefs telling shareholders at the mining giant's Annual General Meeting in Brisbane this week that the company was ready for industrial "peace".
[ Full Story » ]

Beer Hike Sparks Worker Concerns
News that beer prices will rise by nine per cent under the GST has raised concern about the jobs impact in clubs, pubs and hotels as well as the effect on millions of ordinary workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Libs Fail to Block Family Friendly Laws
The NSW Upper House has passed laws protecting workers with family responsibilities from discrimination despite opposition from the conservative parties.
[ Full Story » ]

No Joy For 'Back Door' Pete
Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith opted for a back door entrance when he addressed a business conference in Bowral (NSW) last week.
[ Full Story » ]

Angry Truckies Converge on Border
Pressure is building on trucking employers over hours and rates with hundreds of drivers heading to Albury to block the Hume Highway in support of their claim.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions Dues Test Case Looms
A major test case is looming over the rights of workers to have union dues paid directly by their employer under NSW industrial relations laws.
[ Full Story » ]

Why Solidarity Messages Mean Something
Messages of international solidarity can be effective tools in workers' disputes, a visiting Indonesian union official told Workers' Online this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Radio Free East Timor Rocks
Dili's only radio station has gone from broadcasting two hours a day with a used tape deck to a fully fledged studio offering a comprehensive service to the people of East Timor, thanks to support from Australian workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Neale's Spot On!

  • Silence on the GST

  • Editorial

    Reconciling Different Stories

    This weekend thousands of trade union members will join the march for reconciliation in Sydney, a simple statement about the rights of our indigenous people.

    Those of us who march are saying that we are sorry for the injustices of the past and recognize that before we can move forward as a society we need to be recognise some historical truths.

    The march takes place a few days after a very different sort of protest outside the PM's Sydney office, when workers joined Fijians in protesting the overthrow of their elected government.

    The coup leaders say they are acting for indigenous Fijians to assert their rights over the Fijian Indians immigrants who now have the numerical strength to carry the government.

    On first glance, the union movement's position on the two issues seems at odds. Self-determination at home but condemnation of indigenous power abroad. How can one reconcile these two positions?

    A deeper analysis shows the message is consistent.

    The labour movement's long term commitment to indigenous people reflects an acceptance of the problematic underpinnings of a movement that for decades refused to recognize Aborignies and actively promoted a White Australia Policy.

    This is no 'black armband' view of history, merely a determination to adopt new symbols to build a society that can move into the 21st century on a moral footing. Seems easy, until you deal in the PM and politics.

    The Fiji situation is different. The Indians were neither 'invaders' nor 'colonisers'; rather they were indentured labour, sent to the Pacific by British and Australian companies to do the work the indigenous Fijians refused.

    Over the generations they settled and now provide much of the drive in the Fijian economy, both as employers and workers and - by extension - much of the impetus for the island's development.

    In this light, the move by Speight, with the seeming endorsement of the Council of Chiefs, is not an assertion of indigenous rights, but another attempt to undo history.

    At the end of the day both are struggles for justice: which has always been what the union movement has done best.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Toni Scanlon on Reith's Third Wave Bunnies Bounce Back Sarah Kaine on the Workers Support Register Howard's Wicked Ways



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