Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 78 Official Organ of LaborNet 17 November 2000  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Doubly Blessed
With that unforgettable name, Grace Grace is making her mark as the first female secretary of the Queensland trade union movement.
*  Unions: On The Line
Trade unions this week entered a landmark partnership with the call centre industry to improve the quality jobs in this growing sector.
*  History: Conspiracy or Class? The Whitlam Sacking
Never trust a man who wears a top hat and tails in Australia, in Summer. Neale Towart considers this and other evidence of conspiracy in the great shonky dismissal.
*  Legal: Return Of The Lock-out
Marian Baird reports on the increasing tendency of aggressive employers to use lock-outs to reduce wages and conditions and promote individual agreements.
*  Activists: Waterfront Hero Bows Out
John Coombs, the man the government compared to Ned Kelly - villain to the bosses, the big land owners and conservatives, folk hero to working Australians - bows out of the union movement next month.
*  International: Morocco Stonewalls In Western Sahara
Morocco has new king but its old game plan of defying world opinion over its occupation of the Western Sahara continues.
*  Review: The Identity-Shifting Pragmatist
If New Zealand should have an Australian as its first Labour Prime Minister, then it is only fitting that Australia should have as its first a man who spent much of his formative years across the ditch.
*  Satire: Hackers Infect Microsoft Computers With Mysterious Windows Virus
SEATTLE, Thursday: Shame-faced workers at Microsoft admitted today that hackers had succeeded in penetrating their network's defences and had installed a sophisticated virus on the Apple Macintosh machines used across the software giant's operations.

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Workers Online - 2nd place Labourstart website of the year


Wobbly Radio


Reith takes Back Door

STOP PRESS: Global First - ILO Sanctions Against Burma
In an historic decision, the governing body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) today agreed to impose sanctions against Burma over the country's use of forced labour.
[ Full Story » ]

Big Bosses Bloat While Working Poor Grows
Workers are calling on the federal government to back the ACTU's Living Wage $28 claim in the wake of revelations that executive pay rates continue to skyrocket while more Australians fall into poverty.
[ Full Story » ]

Union Puts Heat on Bastard Bank
Anger at the way the Commonwealth Bank is treating its customers, and its 22,000 workers, has prompted the LHMU to look at the option of withdrawing several million dollars from the bank's accounts.
[ Full Story » ]

Reith Fiddles As Workers Diddled In Shelf Company Scam
Disgust and anger were widespread in the labour movement this week as more workers were diddled out of their entitlements in a Patrick-like corporate sleight-of-hand.
[ Full Story » ]

Call Centre Group Sets New Standard
The ACTU Call Centre Unions Group has launched a campaign to lift employment and customer service standards in the call centre industry.
[ Full Story » ]

Bag The Building Union Back In Vogue
The CFMEU has angrily denied allegations raised in this week's Sydney Morning Herald by journalist Neil Mercer under headline 'Union faces questions on missing cash.'
[ Full Story » ]

Reith Uses the Back Door
The usually confrontational Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith turned shy this week when he took a back door to avoid a welcoming committee of Sydney hotel workers and supporters.
[ Full Story » ]

Big Australian Blamed As Ships of Shame Toll Rises
BHP has been condemned for chartering the low-cost Maltese-registered ships with a history of safety lapses in which two Filipino perished in an engine room fir off Port Hedland this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Public Education Bus Donated to East Timor
The NSW Teachers Federation has donated its Public Education bus to East Timor to assist in the building of a new public education system.
[ Full Story » ]

Vic Opposition Blocks Fair IR Laws
The Victorian opposition is determined to block The Fair Employment Bill which aims to restore fairness for the state's 240,000 workers stuck on low pay.
[ Full Story » ]

More Reasons to Abolish the Employment Advocate
Australia's leading construction union has slammed Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz for locking unionists out of a construction industry seminar last week.
[ Full Story » ]

Coca-Cola Hit by Racism Claims
Allegations of Workplace Racism at Coca-Cola Australia have been taken to the Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria.
[ Full Story » ]

Souths or Bust!
80,000 footie fans took to the streets to support South Sydney--double the number which turned up last year.
[ Full Story » ]

Fundraisers for Burma, Timor, EMILY's List
If you're after a good cause, there's no shortage of options in the next few weeks as the Silly Season gets a conscience.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Heaps of US Presidential Feedback

  • George W's Words of Wisdom

  • Cancer of the Soul

  • Explaining to to the Gott - Slowly

  • Desperately Seeking George Scurry

  • Editorial

    Making the Most Out of the Net

    We at Workers Online have long been evangelists for the importance of the Internet in transforming the trade union movement and it is heartening to see the rest of the movement starting to warm to our message.

    The launch of the ACTU's new Call Centre site is a good example of how unions can pool resources to connect with a growing section of the workforce which is still largely non-union.

    One of the interesting things about the site is the capacity to share information about jobs on offer across the industry. It's a welcome realization that for these Information Age workers the churn is a fact of life and that the union can help them in changing jobs as much as hanging onto the one they have.

    An extension of this idea would see union members sharing information about salaries and contractual arrangements in a secure zone. This would help prevent workers, operating in an information vacuum from unknowingly undercutting each other and driving wages down.

    Within this framework, the sharing of information, becomes one of the bases of the collective activity, with the union playing the role of facilitator by building the infrastructure that allows workers to talk directly.

    Speaking of infrastructure, there's an international debate raging at the moment that may have an even greater impact on the ability of trade unions to develop their online presence.

    The International Confederation of free Trade Unions is currently backing a proposal for a 'dot union' domain name to be created by the internet's governing body.

    At press time, CNN was reporting that ICANN, the internet's governing body, had approved seven new domain names including dot info, dot coop and dot biz . But dot union was not one of the successful applications - this time.

    Supporters of the proposal, including the ACTU's president Sharan Burrow, argue that the separate domain will give unions control of their own space, providing a source of funding to help bridge the Digital Divide in developing countires.

    But others, like Labourstart editor Eric Lee warn, the dot union domain could backfire big-time for trade unions if they end up marginalizing themselves in cyberspace.

    The question is whether the dot union domain will give working people their own prime piece of web real estate, or whether they be building a something that's more akin to a supermarket in the middle of the desert.

    While this debate is likely to heat up, at least we can take comfort from the fact that it's going on at the highest levels of the movement. Five, even two, years ago it would have been confined to the tech-heads on the fringes.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Jim Claven on Cool Brittania Nike Workers Seek a Slice of Tiger Girls Just Want To Have Fun The Mad Monk Goes Marxist



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