by Alison Tate
The sanctions will be applied under an Article 33 of the ILO constitution that has never been used before in the body's 80-year history and will take effect from November 30. In an informal vote, only four countries (China, Malaysia, India and Russia) of the 56 members opposed the measures.
The move, recommends ILO members - workers, employers' groups, and governments, to review their relations with Burma and take steps to ensure their ties do not help continue or extend forced labour.
Unlike Security Council sanctions, which spell out limits on trade and other punishments for the offending nation, the ILO measures allow individual governments, employers' organisations and labor unions to determine what they will do.
These measures provide a new basis for Burma activists, ethical investment groups, unions and others in their struggle to persuade governments, companies and other actors to ensure that their relations with Burma do not contribute, directly or indirectly, to forced labour, and to take positive action to reduce forced labour in Burma. Such action can now be seen, not as bilateral or individual action, but as steps taken at the explicit request of the international community.
U.S. Deputy Labor Secretary Andrew Samet told The Associated Press: "This reflects the more than three decades of frustration with the Burmese regime on their failure to stop the use of forced labor - a practice that is abhorrent to this organisation."
The Burmese Ambassador Mya Than, speaking before the decision, said ''We can assure you that ... no practice of forced labor will occur in the country, and if and when it does occur, it should not be condoned and anyone guilty of such an offence shall be brought to justice."
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions immediately called for tour operators to cancel trips to Burma on the grounds that forced labor is used to develop the tourist infrastructure. It also said multinational energy companies should reconsider their involvement in the Burma-Thailand gas pipeline, where the ICFTU also has reported cases of forced labor.
ICFTU General-Secretary Bill Jordan said the decision was "a message of hope for Burmese democrats and for the hundreds of thousands of victims of inhuman exploitation."
In recent years ASEAN nations had defended the Burmese regime's human rights record. In this case, neighbouring Thailand said that "one million illegal workers have fled over the border because they cannot tolerate the slave labour in Burma." In an historically important move, going against Malaysia's opposition, Thailand specified that Burma must allow a permanent ILO presence in the country, that a mechanism to monitor forced labour be introduced, and that sanctions should not be lifted until real results had been achieved.
Australian trade unionists have been supporting humanitarian and training projects with migrant workers and refugees from Burma on the Thai-Burma border through APHEDA Union Aid Abroad since 1996.
APHEDA is running a study tour to the Thai-Burma border from 4-11 January, 2000 (Costs is $2300).[Cambodia study tour 12-19 January - cost of combined tour $3,600].
Call Peter Jennings at APHEDA immediately (02) 9264 9343 to book or for enquiries. Bookings are about to close.
Sydney Action as Pressure Builds on Burma
Local workers have their schance to support the campaign for justice in Burma this Thursday night, November 23 at 7pm at the Gaelice club, Devonshire Street, Surry Hills.
Bands will be BaBalu and B'Dussy, tickets $12 and $10. For tickets call 0411 337816 or turn up on the night.
Proudly sponsored by the CFMEU, PSA and Labor Council of NSW.
ACTU President Sharn Burrow says that while the top-end-of-town are cleaning up, the ranks of the working poor in Australia are growing
Ms Burrow's comments follow the release of separate studies this week showing that while executive salaries continue to skyrocket, more and more Australian working families are falling into poverty.
A major study of CEO salaries published in this week's Australian Financial Review revealed that Australia's million dollar executives received an average pay increase of 68% last year.
Meanwhile a Smith Family study of poverty in Australia released yesterday, confirmed that the numbers of Australian working families living in poverty is growing. The study which was conducted by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling revealed that 42% of Australian families living in poverty have one or bothadults working.
"Australia is experiencing one of the longest periods of economic growth in its history but low-paid workers and their families are being left behind. Burrow says.
While the top-end-of-town are cleaning up, the ranks of the working poor in Australia
They need a decent pay rise just to make ends meet and the Federal Government should support the ACTU's $28 Living Wage Claim," said Ms Burrow.
The ACTU launched its Living Wage Claim 2001 earlier this month. The $28 a week claim would increase the Federal minimum wage from $400 a week to $428 and would benefit between 1.5 and 2 million low-paid workers who rely on increases in minimum award rates to maintain their living.
Living Wage Out of the Blocks
The LHMU this week lodged applications with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) for improved wages and allowances for hotel workers, child care workers, building service workers and laundry workers.
" Union organisers and delegates have started holding on-the-job meetings asking members to get actively involved in the case," Tim Ferrari, the LHMU Assistant National Secretary says.
" Members in all states are coming forward to volunteer witness statements which will play an important role in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission hearings (AIRC) to start early next year," Ferrari says..
" We want the views of members and activists to define how we should push the demands for improved pay at different workplaces."
The four applications lodged by the LHMU are for the Hospitality, Building Services, Victorian Laundries and the ACT Child Care Awards. Other unions will be lodging applications under their own Awards.
by Andrew Casey
" Our union is responding to community anger, and our members' frustration, with what was once the people's bank - the Commonwealth Bank," Jeff Lawrence, the National Secretary of the LHMU, says.
" We want to join with other groups by using our collective financial muscle to show the Commonwealth that we are unhappy that customer service has been thrown out the door.
The Commonwealth Bank's workforce has been put under the gun to make more and more sales, and process more and more money every day - and the staff say they have been told to just forget about old-fashioned customer service and customer loyalty.
" At the same time the Commonwealth Bank is clawing back more money from their employees by forcing them out of the security of a collective agreement and onto individual contracts," Lawrence says.
The LHMU is now investigating alternative banking and investment options.
The union will make its final decision on the advice of the ACTU and the Finance Sector Union, if the Commonwealth Bank fails to negotiate a collective agreement.
Boss gets $2 mill a year - 68 times average bank worker
" The boss of the Commonwealth Bank, David Murray, pays himself more than $2 million a year.
" Compare David Murray's pay packet to an ordinary, full time Commonwealth Bank worker who earns a little under $30,000 a year.
" That means the boss of the Commonwealth Bank gets paid nearly 68 times the average wage of a full time worker at his bank," Jeff Lawrence pointed out.
" Commonwealth Bank workers have just received a little over 3 per cent as a pay increase.
"But David Murray got nearly 20 percent increase in his pay last year - and an amazing 59 per cent increase in his pay over the last three years.
" So while the Commonwealth Bank boss saw his pay packet zoom he now expects his workforce to take a cut in pay and conditions as he demands each of them accept individual contract.
" Meanwhile David Murray's Commonwealth Bank customers are also expected to accept worsening services," Jeff Lawrence said.
Deteriorating consumer satisfaction
" Of all the major banks the Commonwealth has the worst record on deteriorating customer satisfaction, excessive executive salaries, staff relations and branch closures.
" Consumer surveys reveal a sharp decline in customer satisfaction with the Commonwealth since 1997 making it the Australian bank with the lowest portion of customers who choose it because of good service.
" The Commonwealth has closed 438 branches in the past 5 years and has targeted a further 250 for closure.
" A 20%, staff turnover at the bank is amongst the highest in the industry and already low staff morale has been shattered by the bank's recent decision to issue individual contracts to all its 22,000 Australian staff.
" All of this is happening at a bank which increased its profit last financial year to $1.7 billion.
" The LHMU has now written to David Murray pointing out that we are upset by the Bank's current anti-union agenda of pursuing individual contracts.
" We have asked the Commonwealth Bank to clearly indicate their preparedness to change their industrial relations attitude to their employees and contractors."
STP Manufacturing is the latest unscrupulous employer to take advantage of the unprincipled Workplace Relations Act.
The Newcastle company had transferred their workforce into a number of shelf companies to avoid responsibility for paying workers their entitlements when they went belly up.
ETU Secretary Bernie Riordan says it highlights the inadequacy and incompetence of the Federal Government in protecting workers.
'One can only hope that the Prime Minister's brother sits on the board of STP so that we can be sure that the employees of STP will receive their full entitlements,' he says.
Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Arch Bevis says employers would not be able to use shelf companies to evade their financial responsibilities for workers if laws proposed by Labor in 1998 had been adopted.
Mr Bevis said workers with Steel Tank and Pipe Manufacturing now faced a period of uncertainty over whether their employee entitlements would be paid.
"Not only is Peter Reith unwilling to guarantee all the legally accrued entitlements of workers, the Government is also unwilling to address the issue of dodgy corporate structures which have been used by some employers to avoid their responsibilities.
"This is the very worst type of situation that workers find themselves in," Mr Bevis said. "Not only have the workers at STP found themselves without jobs, it also appears that they have been deceived over their actual employment arrangements.
"Labor moved Private Member's legislation to address this issue at the time of the waterfront dispute, but the Government continually stifled the debate.
"Since then Labor has continued to advocate a change to corporation laws to allow courts to recover assets which have been stripped from businesses in these sorts of complex corporate manoeuvres.
"In June Labor Shadow Minister for Financial Service and Regulation, Stephen Conroy, successfully had Labor's amendments included in the Corporations Law Amendment (Employee Entitlement) Act in the Senate. Again, John Howard and Peter Reith used their numbers in the House to vote against these amendments.
"Not only has this Government put in place a second-rate scheme to repay workers a fraction of what is legally theirs, it is unable or unwilling to deal with the laws that allow such situations to occur. This case once again proves that the Howard Government is a Government for the few and not the many," Mr Bevis said.
Call centre management representatives launched the Call central project, a joint initiative between the ACTU and six key call centre unions, at the MembersEquity call centre in central Melbourne on Monday November 13.
The Call Centre Charter contains a set of broad commitments made by employers to staff, and the Minimum Standards Code sets out guidelines for workplace conditions and salary levels.
At the launch, MembersEquity CEO Anthony Wamsteker and Service Partners Human Resources Manager Peter Price, signed the charter.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow called on all call centre employees to campaign to implement the Minimum Standards Code in their workplaces.
"The code of conduct is about making the call centres that do the right thing by their staff, customers and the industry more visible. By identifying 'lighthouse' call centres we hope to encourage the rogues in the industry to lift their game," she said.
"The Australian call centre industry can be a critical export industry for Australia if we are about quality, we need to work with the employers to ensure it has a quality and standards base to ensure good export opportunities."
Other speakers at the launch included Natalie Raso, President of the Call Centre Management Association, who welcomed the ACTU initiative. Ms Raso said that projects such as Call central should be supported by all stakeholders to promote the growth of a professional and dynamic industry.
"The Australian call centre industry needs to invest in people if we are to really succeed in the high quality delivery of customer sales and customer service. That also means that the work conditions of call centre staff are healthy and positive environments.
"CCMA supports Call Central because the impact of this initiative will have wide-ranging effects for Australia and globally to attract business from overseas to support the growth of our call centre industry," Ms Raso said.
MembersEquity Manager Angela Webb said she was delighted the call centre was signing the charter. Ms Webb said MembersEquity relied on the energy, enthusiasm and knowledge of its call centre consultants to give high-quality service to customers.
"The call centre industry is about people and it's about quality. The staff are not just people who come to the centre for a job, they come to the centre to build a career. MembersEquity relies on these frontline people to build our businesses because they are the first point of contact with potential customers."
Other speakers included staff representatives of some call centres. Marg Shirley of Ballarat praised the efforts of the ACTU and employers supporting Call Central.
"Regional Australia is crying out for call centres,' she said. "We can work in the country through the computer and telephone network structures and the flow-on effects to the rest of the community can basically rebuild regional and rural Australia.
"However, currently you can have a call centre on one side of the road and one on the other side of the road and they can have totally different conditions - like pay, conditions of employment and breaks. The Minimum Standards Code will provide a level playing field for working people."
Wayne Wright told of one call centre that risked the safety of its staff by choosing to evacuate the whole building during a fire except the telephone operators.
"The manager said the businesses needed to be looked after. This is not good enough - and an initiative like this will help stamp out bad practices."
Mr Wright emphasised the importance of the Call Central website as a valuable resource for employees when negotiating with their employers.
The new website http://www.callcentral.com.au was showcased at the launch. The site provides comprehensive information about the industry, up-to-date industry news and facilitates networking of call centre employees.
State Secretary Andrew Ferguson says there is no substance to the allegations raised by Mercer in an article based on the claims of one unnamed source.
And CFMEU state president Peter McLelland says Mercer was offered full access to the unions' records but passed up the opportunity to inspect them because "it stood in the way of the rubbish he published."
In the article the one-time TV current affairs host makes a series of allegations without naming any officials. Instead he tries to turn the story into a spy drama hiding behind the psuedonyms 'Mr A', 'Mr B' and 'Mr C'.
But Ferguson says the allegations are without substance.
'The CFMEU can account for every cent that was recovered on our members behalf and we are obtaining legal opinions in relation to this very misleading heading,' Ferguson says in a letter to NSW LaborCouncil;
'Council will remember the Greiner Government's Royal Commission into the building industry and the attacks on the BWIU at the time.
"In an attempt to protect the integrity of the union's wage recovery processes the union developed a very strictly audited wage claim computer system and strict auditing processes.
"The system survived all past anti-union attacks and the same system is in place within the CFMEU today.'
'The CFMEU prides itself on the integrity we have maintained over the past decades in relation to recovery of unpaid entitlements for members, with a record $3.6 million recovered for CFMEU members in the past 12 months.'
Reith used a service lift to access a Work and Family conference organized by his department after more than 200 workers gathered at the entrance of Sydney's Hilton Hotel.
Members of the LHMU were joined by building workers who marched of nearby city building sites along with dozens of other affiliates of the NSW Labor Council.
Serenading the embattled Minister to the Stevie Wonder hit "I Just Called to Say I Love You", the workers accused the Minister of hypocrisy in handing out awards for family friendly workplaces when his policies have done much to increase pressure on working families.
"The only family to benefit out of the Reith industrial relations policies has been the Reiths," Labor Council secretary Michael Costa said. "If all working families had access to a Telecard, I'm sure life would be easier for them too.
While media attention has focused on the grounding of a Malaysian vessel on the Barrier Reef, Andrew Williamson from the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE) says the tragedy on the XL could have been avoided.
Williamson says BHP management chartered the ship to transport iron ore from its Mt Newman mine, despite the poor safety record of the XL, which was detained in Rotterdam in February this year and in Australia in 1998.
"Legally it must be said BHP management owed the grieving relatives of these seaman nothing," Williamson says.
"But Paul Anderson and his chief financial officer Chip Goodyear should exercise some of their stock options in favour fo the families as a matter of moral duty and obligation."
Mounting Toll Condemned Globally
Three ships of shame , five people burnt to death and priceless damage to our world heritage reef -- this is how the International Transport Workers' Federation and its Australian affiliate the Maritime Union of Australia sum up the three maritime disasters on the Australian coast in as many days.
"We've got two seafarers incinerated off the west coast, another three burnt to death off the east coast and a third ship that's had to be blasted off our world heritage reef," National Secretary John Coombs says.
"This is no coincidence. This is no accident. It's all down to federal government shipping policy," Coombs says.
"World shipping is dominated by brutal, environmentally irresponsible flags of convenience. We've had three parliamentary inquiries expose how these cut throat operators have absolute disregard for human life, much less that of our marine environment.
"Yet this government is still deregulating, even permitting these ships into our coastal trade. We need tighter restrictions, greater vigilance. How many more people have to die, how much more damage has to be done to our marine parks, how much more pollution to our coastal waters, before the government is prepared to act?"
At the same time the Malaysian flagged Bunga Teratai Satu was being blasted off the reef, surviving crew are imprisoned on board the Greek owned Maltese flag of convenience vessel XL, after a fire that killed two of their workmates and three more seafarers have perished in an explosion on the Singapore flagged, Norwegian managed container ship Kota Wirawan.
"It's bordering on racism," says Trevor Charles, International Transport Workers Federation, Australia. "The seamen on the burnt out freighter XL must be suffering incredible trauma. We want to help, the church and the community want to help, but the ship owner won't even let us on board."
by Kerri Carr
The bus, valued at about $8000, was farewelled from Federation's head office by Federation officers and staff and Education Minister John Aquilina on November 7.
The NSW Education Ministry paid for the transportation of the bus to Dili.
Much of East Timor's infrastructure, including schools, education resources and transport was lost in the terrible destruction that followed their vote for independence.
Federation General Secretary John Hennessy said the donation of the Public Education bus arose from an initiative of teacher unions and the NSW Government to assist in the development of a new education system in East Timor.
"In conversations with the administrator responsible for education we learned help was needed getting students to university and school because there was no transport," Mr Hennessy said.
"Eighteen bus stops have been built and we've provided the first bus.
"It will provide the foundation of transport and public education in East Timor," he added.
Mr Hennessy said that initially the bus would be used to transport university students to the university in Dili.
He said the education administrator, Fr Filameno, was now looking all over the world for another six buses.
When the bus was farewelled from Federation it was taken to Ingleburn where it was placed on a truck to be driven to Darwin. When it reached Darwin the Public Education Bus was placed on a ship to travel to Dili.
It's hoped the bus will be in use by this week, as the university opened last week, the university library stocked with books donated by Australian universities and universities in Portugal.
Federation urges teachers to contribute funds to the Helping Our Neighbour: East Timor Education Fund established by Education Minister John Aquilina, which will support the building of a new education system in East Timor.
Contributions should be paid into the fund by cheques made out to "Helping Our Neighbour: East Timor Education Fund" and posted to Jim Harkin, Executive Director, Corporate Strategy, Level 4, 35 Bridge Street Sydney 2000.
Caption: Federation's Public Education bus gets a festive send off before its journey to East Timor.
Caption: Education Minister John Aquilina joins NSW Teachers Federation General Secretary John Hennessy to farewell the Public Education bus.
The Victorian Liberal party's attempt to delay debate on the Fair Employment Bill is an outrageous slap in the face to thousands of low paid Victorians, says the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
"The Liberals are grasping at straws for any reason to delay this Bill," said Leigh Hubbard, Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary.
Responding to the Liberal attempt to delay debate, which was defeated in the lower house of the Victorian Parliament, Mr Hubbard said:
"The Liberals have lied about the implications of this Bill. VECCI is the only employer voice against the Bill. Their wild estimate of 22,000 job losses has been plucked from thin air. They cannot explain how they arrived at that figure."
"The Opposition refuses to help the tens of thousands of people who are stuck with very minimal wages and conditions under Schedule 1A of the Federal Workplace Relations Act. Remember, that there are only 250,000 workers under Schedule 1A ompared to 1.1 million under federal awards and/or agreements which provide decent conditions. The Liberal's determination to protect this small enclave of exploitation is outrageous."
"The Liberals are distorting the contents of the Bill. Victoria is just seeking to establish what other states already have - this is a catching up process."
"The need for more consultation is also a mischievous stalling tactic - the Industrial Relations Taskforce which made recommendations contained in the Bill, consulted widely and employers were part of that process."
The suggestion that unions will have right of entry to any business at any time against the will of workers is scare-mongering nonsense.
The provisions in this Bill mirror the restricted right of entry rule in Peter Reith's own federal legislation. The Victorian Government has to acknowledge international conventions on right of entry in its laws.
his legislation is not a threat to business- around two thirds of employers are already doing the right thing and paying federal award rates or adhering to agreements. In fact many tens of thousands of employers want a level playing field - they are part of the silent majority."
"In attempting to delay this Bill, the Liberals have displayed a complete lack of compassion," said Leigh Hubbard.
"Denis Napthine likes to push the idea that he and the Liberal party are more caring and this was an opportunity to show it. The Liberals have not changed, they are sticking to the Kennett style which is to kick the poor and promote a divided Victoria."
The Victorian Trades Hall Council will be stepping up the campaign to support the Fair Employment Bill, particularly in regional areas before the Upper House debate on December 5th.
Tasmanian Construction Division Secretary Tony Benson and rank and file member Robert Vincent were refused entry on monday on the ground that they were not members of the organising groups.
However the promotional material for the seminar does not state that it would be closed to the public. Individuals were asked to RSVP, and this was done.
"It is a disgrace that a Liberal Senator, who is supposed to serve the whole State, refuses to discuss issues in a rational way with all industry participants", said Tony Benson.
"It is clear that Senator Abetz isn't interested in the construction industry or in the principles of free speech, he simply wants to engage in old fashioned union bashing."
National Secretary John Sutton has voiced concerns that the main speaker at the Seminar, Employment Advocate Jonathan Hamberger, has again made it clear that he stands with employers, rather than with ordinary workers.
"We have said from the start the Office Employment Advocate was established to assist Peter Reith to drive down wages and conditions of ordinary workers. Today's events are further proof that the OEA is not impartial in industrial relations and that the Office should be abolished," said Mr Sutton.
by Andrew Casey
"Round 2 is coming watch out you dirty black c*nt" was the ugly wording of one e-mail message sent to an iquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union union delegate.
" We are concerned that the company is allowing a hostile atmosphere based on racism and discrimination to pervade the workplace," the LHMU's Victorian Branch Secretary, Brian Daley, said today.
" We are worried the company is ignoring their own EEO policies in a strategic attempt to silence one of our workplace delegates - who just happens to be a Black-Australian.
" Our delegate was born in Mauritius, and has worked for more than five years at Coca-Cola's Melbourne warehouse in suburban Clayton. He is one of their best employees and is prepared to stand up and represent the rights of his workmates," Brian Daley said.
" We have told the Equal Opportunity Commission that the company pays only lip-service to an EEO policy and has never, to the best of our knowledge, conducted any EEO training of employees.
Coca-Cola race case in the USA
" Unfortunately Coca-Cola - the world's largest soft-drink manufacturer - has recently had highlighted a long history of workplace racism at the parent company in the USA.
In June this year Coca-Cola, in America, settled a two-year old racial discrimination case in which damage claims were estimated by some sources to reach nearly $300 million.
" It took years for Coca-Cola in America to face up to their history of racism. We in Australia are not going to allow this problem to fester," Brian Daley said.
by HT Lee
Not all were Souths supporters but these young and old, men, women and children, people from various ethnic backgrounds, blue collar and white collar workers were all united in a common cause. Their concern--the highjacking of their game by cooperate greed. Their message to the NRL--they want their game back.
CMFEU assistant secretary Brian Parker, a Souths supporter, and one of the many union officials acting as rally marshalls was pleased with the tremendous turnout.
'At the end of the day the people will not put up with big corporation dictating terms to a working class game,' Brian said.
South Sydney has vowed to fight on--their fight has just began.
The NRL should take note of the peoples' wishes by reinstating South and return the game back to the people.
If the NRL don't get its head out of the cooperate sandpit and let Souths back, rugby league will be finished as the peoples game within 10 years.
For a start the 80,000 protesters will walk away and many more will follow.
Thursday night, November 23 at 7pm at the Gaelice club, Devonshire Street, Surry Hills.
Bands will be baBalu and B'Dussy, tickets $12 and $10. For tickets call 0411 337816.
Proudly sponsored by the CFMEU, PSA and Labor Council of NSW.
East Timor benefit night
Help Rebuild East Timor.
Music by Jackie Orszaczky + Tina Harrod
Starfish Club band
SunLounge featuring Rick Falkiner and Solange Olivera
Win a prized print from: Michael Amendolia (Network, David Dare Parker (Network), Peter Solness (Network), Paul Jones (Freelance), Andrew Meares (Fairfax), Jason South (Fairfax), Jack Picone (Network), Phil Quirk (Wildlight), Stephen Dupont (Freelance), Ben Bohane (Freelance) and HT Lee (Freelance).
Some prints are signed by Xanana Gusmao.
Raffles, food, bar, door prizes.
Bondi Pavilion, Sunday December 3, 7-11pm.
Supported by CFMEU and Waverley Council.
Sisters Turn Four
Meanwhile, tickets are still on sale EMILY's List 4th Birthday Celebration
Guest Speaker is Sharan Burrow, President of the ACTU, talking about Labor's success with women progressing into decision-making positions viz
- 50% of ACTU executive are female
- EMILY's List have helped 38 women to be elected into parliament around Australia
- EMILY's List contributed $250,000 to Labor women's campaigns and provided mentoring, training, media support and strategic campaign to candidates.
She will also be lending he support for EMILY's List to help NSW Labor achieve its quota of 35% women in parliament.
As E.G. Whitlam said: "A party that does not have women as equal partners is not a party."
So there is a lot to celebrate at this event and we need to raise funds for next year's elections. Networking, food and wine will be excellent!
Thursday 23 November 2000
President of the ACTU
Venue: All Seasons Premier, Menzies Hotel
14 Carrington Street, Sydney, (above Wynyard Railway Station). Drinks & Finger Food 6pm-8pm "Melbourne Room" Cost: $45 concession available. Hotel parking at evening rates
RSVP by 20 November 2000 to Melanie Stewart
Phone: 9230 2970
Fax: 9230 3043
Email: [email protected]
Tool of the Week Nomination
YOUR MAGAZINE, FOR BEING CORPORATE TOOLS
why do you have to dump on Brother Ralph Nader?
The party of Wall Street, aka the Democrats, lost this election BECAUSE THEY ABANDONED THE AMERICAN WORKER, AND AFRICAN AMERICANS.
It wasn't Nader's fault that Bush won, IT WAS GORE'S FAULT.
Also, thanks to Clinton's Crime Bill of 1996, 6 Million Americans lost the right to vote, due to felony convictions for victimless crimes such as drug sales.
About 4 million of those disenfranchised Americans were Black or Latino.
In other words CLINTON DISENFRANCHISED MUCH OF THE DEMOCRAT'S VOTE BASE.
And, by the way, Gore was no more "pro labor" than Bush, so, please cut out the pro Democrat propaganda.
Remember, the Democrats gave us NAFTA, The Democrats gave us WTO the Democrats gave us Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, the Democrats laid off over 300,000 unionized Federal employees [they called it "reinventing government", and most of the folks who got laid off were Black], the Democrats blocked the DRUM bill, which would expand the democratic rights of union members within our unions, and last and worst, the Democrats threw 1 million jobless single mothers off Welfare, taking bread out of the mouths of their 4 million kids.
How "pro labor" is any of that???
I know you folks are Australian, and ignorant of American political realities, so, that's why I took time out to educate you.
Gregory A. Butler,
local 608 carpenter,
GANGBOX : CONSTRUCTION WORKERS NEWS SERVICE
The idiot who called Nader a soiled saint
Get real, bozo! Anyone who cites the New York Times to build a case for Al Gore isn't paying attention. The Times is no friend of working people. Neither is Al. He is the architect of welfare "reform" which consigns more women and children to poverty and hunger. He will be proud to bomb Iraq if necessary, though the child-murdering sanctions he supports are doing pretty well without bombs. He is willing to let salmon in the Pacific NW become extinct. He wants to spend more on the military. And if he had run a truly populist, progressive campaign (admittedly impossible for a DLP-sponsored candidate) he would have won. It was his campaign to lose and he did. Point your finger at your own candidate, dildo!
Gore Qualified? Get Real!
What a curious editorial on "The American Way"!
First you say Al Gore is the "most qualified" candidate, when any fool can see that Ralph Nader is better qualified -- if only by virtue of not being a complete hypocrite.
Then you say, "Progressive types across the Free World might be scratching their heads" -- when any self-respecting "progressive type" has always avoided the cold-war term "free world" (and even from a reactionary point of view it's been meaningless since 1989).
You say: "Democrats may rightly blame Nader's spoiling tactics". Rightly? What could be more justified than spoiling a Democrat campaign that you yourself say was run by money and spin doctors.
You complain that "Gore failed to engage the electorate with a vision". Be glad. Be very glad. Gore's vision, like Bush's vision, is that of rampant capitalism. Speaking of which...
You say that "capital is now king" and issue a "sobering warning to those who would have us believe our future lies as a province of America". This smug nationalist formulation forgets that capital is and always has been king in Australia too. We just marked the 25th anniversary of the day when capital and its representatives destroyed the Whitlam Government -- a political crisis far more serious than the Bush-Gore Florida follies.
No Room for Smugness
Comparing election systems to computer programs, Michael Gadiel says, "Australians can feel smug lucky for us; we've got Democracy Version 7.0." Before we get too smug, lets check our version of the Democracy program for bugs.
There is the well-known "Branch Stacking" virus. Not only does this virus corrupt election outcomes, it can lead to physical violence. All in all, a very nasty virus indeed!
Then there is the Upper House "Bedsheet Ballot" virus. The produces an endless list of little known candidates making it virtually impossible for voters to cast a meaningful and valid vote. Instead, most are compelled to vote "above the line" for candidates chosen and ordered in back room deals. A New South Wales variant of this virus has led to the election of candidates who received an infinitesimal percentage of primary votes.
There is the "Voter Imposter" bug. There is little to prevent corrupt voters from obtaining the names of others that have not voted and voting in their place. How many people voting in the last half-hour before polls close are actually who they say they are? Despite central control of the election system, rumours abound of corrupt booths where voters phone in their votes to friendly poll workers or cast votes on behalf of their whole family to save them the bother.
Let's not forget the "Remembrance Day" bug which allows an elected government to be dismissed by an appointed representative of a foreign hereditary monarch or the Queensland bug which allowed a senator to consistently vote against the policies he supported during his election.
The Americans elected a dead man. Australians elected Pauline Hanson, on the ballot as a Liberal, after the party had dumped her. The Americans probably got the better deal.
Counting the vote has been Florida is tedious and confusing. Counting the vote in New South Wales can be the same. Remember waiting for a week for the distribution of Shooters Party votes in Bathurst to determine if Labor would form the government in 1995?
Democracy Version 7.0 retains many of the problems of Version 1. It is equally likely in either version for a party to receive the majority of popular votes but fail to elect the national leader. Both versions are subject to media and special interest group manipulation, both favour the rich. Both versions are subject to similar political inertia. Changing the election system in the USA is about as easy as changing the method of choosing a head of state in Australia.
Democracy is a pretty good program, but smug is the last thing citizens of either country should feel.
More Gadiel Fan Mail
"If he loses the election, Al Gore would be the unluckiest person on earth. On four levels he has been confounded in his mission to achieve the White House. Firstly, he won the popular vote by 120, 000, despite the possibility that he might lose the Electoral College vote. Secondly, the Nader effect which under a preferential system, such as is used in Australia, would ensure that the fifty percent of Nader voters who would otherwise have voted for Gore could have provided him with their second preference."
Come on, people. If you're going to cover US elections, at least learn a little about them. Gore's "bad luck" in running against Nader is nothing compared to the bad luck which cost Bush (in '92) and Dole ('96) their chances of victory. Check Perot's percentage in those years. It's massively higher than Nader's 3%, and most of it was grabbed from the Republican candidates. Add Perot's respective totals to Bush's and Dole's and you'll see how unlucky they were; in both '92 and '96, Clinton won fewer votes than his combined opponents.
The popular vote stuff is precisely why the US has an electoral college system; to prevent what its constitutional framers called "tyranny of the majority". Besides, the statistic is largely meaningless. Both Gore and Bush were chasing, and campaigned for, electoral college votes. The whole contest would have been different had it been for popular votes.
Stick to what you know. Whatever that is.
Where's the Balance?
Nader and unions
Workers On Line (10 Nov)pontificated that Ralph Nader "pinched" votes that should have gone to Al Gore.
WoL chose to take a stand on this aspect of the US elections, yet disenfranchisement and a blatant lack of democracy is fundamental for the vast majority of US working people.
Only one third of the eligible population actually vote because they do not see a solution among either the Republicans or the Democrats. Those least likely to vote include young people, workers, low income groups, African, Hispanic and Native Americans (cited in WoL later).
The Florida debacle further reinforces that the US elections are anything but fair. People were prevented from voting because names were missing from rolls, ballot papers ran out, staff shortages meant addresses couldn't be verified.or polling places simply closed.
Didn't this rob Gore of votes or, more importantly, deny working people their democratic right to vote? Exit polls in the US show that half of those voting for Nader would not have voted otherwise, implying that Nader was attracting new voters rather than stealing them.
Nader ran a campaign that condemned corporate greed and supported economic justice which probably spoke to disenfranchised layers more effectively than either high profile candidate. Nader opposed free trade and probably won some support from those activated by Seattle and the growing anti-corporate movement. Nader was also the only candidate to condemn the Israeli violence against Palestinian people
Nader claimed the Democrats have betrayed unions because they don't propose to strengthen labor laws. According to Robert Fitch, professor at La Guardia College, the last piece of favorable labor legislation passed by the Democrats was for health and safety under Richard Nixon.
Gore criticized "loopholes" business use to get around labor laws and has "promised to urge employers to allow employees to freely choose". Gore supports free trade when it means opening foreign markets to American goods but proposes a ban on "dumping" goods in the US: good old fashioned protectionism. Gore doesn't comment on the extensive use of exploited prison labor inside the US.
Nader condemned union officials for not asking their members before donating $54million to the Democrats. The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and Service Employees International Union are two of the top five contributors to the Democrat coffers. Nader received negligible donations from unions.
WoL could have provided a more balanced view for Australian unionists or is it so blinkered by two-party-lesser-evilism politics that it is incapable of seriously examining a radical pro-worker, pro-community alternative?
The feedback was so stimulating we should do it agin in four years time ...
Will this man really be the next president of the US?
"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country." ....George W. Bush, Jr.
If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." ....George W. Bush, Jr.
"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child. ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"Welcome to Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts." ...Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"Mars is essentially in the same orbit...Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 8/11/94
"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century." ......Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 9/15/95
"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change." .... Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 5/22/98
"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'." ... Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 12/6/93
"Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 11/30/96
"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"The future will be better tomorrow." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 9/21/97
"People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr. to Sam Donaldson, 8/17/93
"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"Public speaking is very easy." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr. to reporters in 10/9
"I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican" ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr
"When I have been asked who caused the riots and the killing in LA, my answer has been direct & simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame .....George W. Bush, Jr.
"Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 5/20/96
"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 9/22/97
"For NASA, space is still a high priority." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 9/5/93
"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr., 9/18/95
"The American people would not want to know of any misquotes that George Bush may or may not make." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"We're all capable of mistakes, but I do not care to enlighten you on the mistakes we may or may not have made." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." .....Governor George W. Bush, Jr.
"[It's] time for the human race to enter the solar system." ....Governor George W. Bush, Jr
A recent study in the U.K., has revealed that cancer has overtaken heart disease as the main killer of the population, with almost one million people being diagnosed as suffering from this disease, and almost two thirds of them being women.
This survey also revealed that there is a strong link between poverty, cancer and its growth over the past 50 years to become the biggest cause of death in England and Wales.
The exceptions being Lung, Prostrate and Breast cancers, which are more commonly diagnosed in areas of affluence. It is these cancer sites, which have both higher incidence and mortality rate in Australia, with prostrate being the third highest incidence and second highest mortality. (Prostrate being 12.9% of all new cases and 7.8% of all deaths and colorectal being 14.4% new cases and 13.8% deaths.)
These figures indicate an increasingly affluent lifestyle, and one must ponder, would life not be simpler, safer and longer as one of the growing population of working poor, those living from hand to mouth on a poverty wage in part time or casual jobs. Or as one in a mutual obligation program, working three days a week in the position you were previously employed in, for twenty-five years on a full time wage, or to start at an early age a pittance of a youth wage?
Is this possibly a secret Industrial Relations plan conceived by the Minister for Workplace Relations and the present government? Could it be more disingenuous machinations to maintain our population without further immigration?
Or is it simply that - the statistics from the disadvantaged, particularly the unemployed welfare recipients, pensioners relying solely on government alms, the working poor, and our indigenous peoples are swept under the carpet?
That illusory piss stained carpet, usually displayed as the farcical benevolence of middle class Australian egalitarianism!
We are like ravenous piranhas, voraciously gnawing away at the very essence of our national psyche; and this is the real cancer of our society!
This is a letter sent to Robert Gottliebsen, Finance Editor for The Australian concerning his article sticking up for the business line on contractors in the workforce. Here follows my response from life experience. Robert, I think has his head in a place where the sun may shine??
Dear Mr Gotliebsen,
I am very happy to read how upset you are with the ALP/union arrangements concerning principal contractor and subbies.
It is a process that is long overdue by so called Labor governments and unions.
In building and construction, security, call centres, telecommunications and factory work etc etc a lot of phony hourly rates, long and odd hours, unpaid super and even in some industries eg building/construction a lot of sub contractors have not had their superannuation paid for by unscrupulous or principal contractors feigning ignorance of the Super laws in place since the mid 1980's in the building game and by statute since 1992.
Australia needs stronger unions to punish your business friends. They deserve it, all those involved in ripping off people in my local area I know who have suffered at the hands of principal contractors in all of the industries above mentioned.
So don't give your finish lets side with business line on the issue.
Go and meet some real workers some day and support an under dog for once instead of the managerial 'over dog', matey.
Please could you ask your readers if they could help me find a chap by the name of George Scurry?
He would be in his middle 70's now but came from Broken Hill..in fact I think he was born there.
He worked with a great friend of mine in Ceylon on something to do with Cable Wireless at the end of WW2.
If there is any info I can be contacted on mailto:[email protected] or my address is 95 The Righi, Heidelberg 3084
Many thanks from Gwen Rogerson
You're the first female on the Australian Mainland to lead a State Union Peak Council, What has Queensland got going for it?
Well I guess Queensland has defiantly matured over recent years and I think that we are certainty pursuing some very important issues. Together with the Labor Government, we have introduced some quite significant changes for workers in Queensland. For example we were the first state in Australia to legislate for maternity leave for casual workers. That's fairly ground breaking, together with the government was able to push the issue and get it legislated for all workers.
So is the redneck stereotype of Queensland a thing of the past, are things changing up there?
I think as far as unionism goes, I never think we ever had that red neck mentality. I mean, I know Queensland is a diverse state and there are areas of course were unionisation isn't quite as high as we'd like to see it, but I think with unions adopting and moving more towards workplace activism and looking at getting the issues up and running and pushing those issues and recruiting along the way, I think that there is a feeling of optimism across the state.
What's your personal story? How have you got to be where you are as Secretary of the Queensland Council of trade unions?
I guess the stepping block for me to become Secretary was the fact that I was elected assistant secretary just over five years ago. That was a first in 110 years of the QCTU history so having been elected as the first women five plus years ago, when the position became available for secretary it was a natural progression. Nominations were opened and it clearly became evident that I was to be elected unopposed.
I've worked in the movement now for about 20 years now. I started full time for the Finance Sector Union - the then Bank Employee's Union. I worked there for 10 years. Then I did a stint as industrial officer at the Labor Council, I then worked as an advisor for the assistant Industrial Relations minister at the time, Garry Johns and then came back as Assistant Secretary. So I guess 20 years experience coupled with being an assistant for as long as I was assistaded me in becoming the first General Secretary female in Queensland.
If you had to choose a time to take over the reins now would be it - you have a friendly state government and new industrial laws. How are you making the most of this climate?
Well, I guess what are trying to do is ensure that the avenues that we have to improve wages and conditions are pursued to their fullest so that the elements of the act which enable us to, for example, roll over agreements until awards, review awards to make them more up to date, enter the workplace without the need for notice, give workers entitlement which they never had before and advising workers that if it wasn't for the union movement those kind of things wouldn't happen.
The current Labor Government has introduced some of the most progressive laws we have in this country and what we need to do is ensure that we use them to the fullest. We are having an organising conference on the 24th of November to explore which way we can use this.
What's the single biggest issue confronting workers in Queensland at the moment?
Casualisation and job insecurity. In Queensland, we are slightly higher than the national average . We have one in three workers in Queensland working casual There is an explosion at the moment in the number of new businesses and the government is doing a lot to secure new businesses. Unfortunately some of those are in the areas of call centres where there is a high casual portion of workers.
One of the ways we looked at addressing them were running a case to increase the casual loading from the current 19 percent norm. to 28.5 % and we are awaiting a decision any day now. We've asked for a general ruling. The loading of 19 % was set some 25 years ago, believe it or not
What's the Beattie Government's position on that claim?
Well they were supportive of an increase but it certainly wasn't to the level we put in. It's submission is for a 1% increase in the loading. That's disappointing but at the same time I think our case was very strong and hopefully we will be able to get more than that.
On a more positive note government has also announced a sic month pay equity inquiry to have a look at pay in equity in Queensland. They will take on the findings of the NSW Inquiry and see whether or not those findings are relevant to Queensland. A discussion paper has also been released and we are also looking at other occupations such as in the area of tourism and hospitality, nursing, food processing and call centres and looking at developing a principal for Queensland along the lines of equal remuneration for work of equal value.
What about the general relations with the Beattie Government? Often Labor governments don't give unions everything they want. Are there areas you are having problems at the moment?
Well obviously we didn't get everything we want and we went through a bit of a rough patch there with enterprise bargaining. The government quickly locked themselves into a certain figure and, obviously, unions wanted to push that as far as they could. But what I like about the relationship is it is one of respect and understanding: you understand that they have a position they understand you have a position, hence respect. And once its over and finalised hopefully we can get on with business which is the good thing about a Labour government.
Is it an optimistic time to be involved in the Union movement in Queensland?
Well I think it is The Union movement at the moment is at the crossroads. Either we stabilize our membership across Australia or start to increase it or in five years time we might be heading labor councils with very small percentage of density. I don't think anyone either at the Labor Council at NSW or the ACTU or the Queensland Council of Unions wants to be in a position where were representing a very low percentage of union density. So our job is to turn it around and if we can do that, it will be exciting.
Finally I've got to ask what's it like going around having a name like yours?
Well I decided to do it to myself, when I married my husband Michael Grace and I decided to take his surname. Sometimes its very good because they don't forget it but often its not as good because they always remember for the name. Recently in an article they said having had the opportunity to be double blessed I couldn't pass it over.
The directions are laid out in a Discussion paper 'On the Line - The future of Australia's Call Centre Industry'. This is the Executive Summary of that report:
The expanding call centre industry is in a unique position to provide quality employment opportunities for Australians in the technology and customer service sectors.
To sustain such growth, Australian call centres must be able to provide a well-trained and professional workforce, backed up by appropriate technology and commitment to world customer service standards.
Call centres and state governments must commit to providing quality employment opportunities for Australians and a high standard of customer service.
Call centres have injected optimism and opportunity into communities with high levels of unemployment. It is imperative that the skills of staff in call centres are developed in order for these opportunities to remain in the long term.
Setting the Standard
Australian governments spend substantial amounts of money attracting companies to establish call centres in their areas, particularly in regional centres with high unemployment. But there are currently little or no requirements imposed on companies that receive such investment incentives.
The ACTU Call Centre Unions Group believes the investment made by Australian taxpayers should be returned to the community by way of:
The call centre industry is largely unregulated and wages for call centre employees are lower than those in most countries that offer similar standards of infrastructure, political stability and a multi-lingual workforce. The ACTU Call Centre Unions Group believes the lack of regulation has lead to the development of significant discrepancies in wages and conditions in Australia,
Developing Our Advantage
The ACTU Call Centre Unions Group believes that the competitive advantage of Australian call centres should be the skill of their staff and professionalism of their operations.
Benefits to call centre employees:
Benefits to the call centre industry:
A Plan for Action
The ACTU Call Centre Unions Group believes the key to achieving these goals are:
A Charter for the Future
The ACTU Call Centre Unions Group is seeking commitments to a call centre charter which will contain statements of commitment by call centres to:
The ACTU Call Centre Unions Group is seeking Government support for the Call Centre Charter. Governments will be asked to:
For a full copy of the report 'On the Line' contact Belinda at the ACTU (03) 92066072 or by email [email protected]
Some call it conspiracy, with the various versions involving the CIA, Rupert Murdoch, Zionists and the Trilateral Commission. Others say it was largely Kerr, fulfilling the role of his class and station, with Whitlam having a significant role in his own downfall by not being aware of Kerr's mood of self-aggrandisement.
There is of course, a mountain of writings about the events of November 1975- the "Unmaking of Gough"- and much more was generated this year as the twenty fifth anniversary rolled by. Mungo McCallum this week points vaguely to the staunch opposition to Medibank waged by the doctors and the Libs at that time. Were they in on it?
John Pilger's A Secret Country (Vintage, 1990) has a great deal of interesting detail about the fate of the Whitlam government, and the accumulation of actions which seem to have lead to an American reaction. US bases are the focal point, with Whitlam's nationalism seen as a threat to the integrity of US control of its "51st state".
The crucial trigger point was the belief of the CIA that Whitlam would announce the cancellation of the Pine Gap agreement of December 9, 1975. Something had to be done. Pilger documents a Hansard report of 1977 on statements by Andrew Peacock, stating on a visit to Indonesia six weeks before the Dismissal, what would happen in the Australian crisis:
"Whitlam will not agree to hold an election...the Governor General would be forced to ask Malcolm Fraser to form a Cabinet. But this Cabinet would not be able to get a mandate to govern, because parliament is controlled by the Labor Party...Fraser is appointed PM, a minute later he asks the Governor-General to dissolve parliament, following which a general election is held."
Pilger's is an excellent summary of reportage of the time, and books written by Denis Freney, Joan Coxsedge and others. Kerr's intelligence links are set out, as well as the actons and reactions of notorious CIA operative Shackley, who had the full backing of Kissinger (US Secretary of State at the time). The other CIA person who has been linked strongly with Kerr's action was Victor Marchetti and he said in 1980:
"The CIA's aim in Australia was to get rid of a government they did not like and that was not co-operative...it's a Chile, but [in] a much more sophisticated form."
Of course, there is always the point that Whitlam and his ministers by the way they ran the economy didn't need CIA help to sink their ship, but oppositional forces were impatient and had to precipitate the demise.
Pilger's details are based on documentation and interviews but others would press the case to Bilderberg Club extremes. Probable Cause Australia claims to present a world exclusive at http://roswell.fortunecity.com/angelic/96/pcissu11.htm Okay I'm a bit slow getting to it as it was posted in November 1995, a twenty year anniversary. This site is dedicated to bringing to Australia "the truth about the Kennedy assassination" so has slipped in some information about our very own national trauma.
COUP D'ETAT IN AUSTRALIA - HOW THE CIA DID A DALLAS, 1963, DOWN UNDER IN 1975! BY ADELAIDE TAPPER AND STEVE GERLACH
Announces the article. It also concentrates on US bases and the fact of Whitlam apparently about to give a speech on 11th November 1975 denouncing the spy bases. It goes pretty thoroughly through the loans affair, buying back the farm and other threats to US national security.
The US has a long record of such actions before and since 1975. We tend to see these as the US acting to guide countries on the correct path (can't let people go communist irresponsibly now can we?) and those countries as poor third world countries. However if they can do it there they can do it here. The difference seems to be that actions in, for example, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Mozambique were pretty much on the public record for those who cared to look. The Australian evidence is based more on comments and apparent actions, rather than State Department documents.
Those who doubt that such documents are public only need to look at just about any of Noam Chomsky's scarifying demolitions of US foreign policy and see that much of his material is actually drawn directly from official statements by US players.
The right have not been inactive in debunking Whitlam myths. Gerard Henderson can be counted on to trot out something each year as he did in a broad review in the SMH on 23 September this year.
Sir David Smith (he didn't have the honourific in 1975 when he worked Sir John Kerr) addressed the Samuel Griffith Society, also in 1995, to defend Kerr and debunk the conspiracy theorists. His speech is at http://www.samuelgriffith.org.au/v5chap7.htm . He mainly defends the actions of the opposition in having the right to block supply, pointing out that the ALP in opposition had tried on 170 occasions to do the same thing. He also defends Kerr seeking advice from Barwick as Chief Justice, saying he was perfectly entitled to do this. He also pedantically accuses the ABC of bias (surprise, surprise) because they constantly referred to him as the one who announced Whitlam's dismissal from the steps of Parliament. In fact he announced the dissolution of parliament and the fact of an upcoming general election. Its part of a general purpose of the Samuel Griffith Society to defend the constitution which they claim as a Griffith document. As Peter Botsman (The Great Constitutional Swindle, Pluto Press, 2000) has pointed out, it was in fact largely written by Andrew Clark. His argument misses the point that just because Kerr consulted Barwick that didn't give Barwick's advice any legal standing. Arguing about the legal rights of Kerr to do what he did seems a waste as the fact is he did it and it happened which seems to me to make it legal.
A much further "out there" conspiracy view is at http://www.textfiles.com/conspiracy/opal.txt where the New Zealand and Australian Labor governments are brought down by the Roundtable and the Trilateralists. Please note that the Trilateral Commission, established by David Rockefeller, and which included such figures as President Carter's Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brezinski, Vice President Walter Mondale and Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher (who later was Clinton's Secretary of State) sought to make the world "safe for democracy" by making sure the US view got its way. The MAI and WTO continue their work today.
This paper contains lots of interesting names, details of Swiss bank accounts held by John Kerr and Mafia figures implicated in events of 1974-75 and attempts by the CIA to place subliminal broadcasts on TV screens in Australia at this time! Names include Michael Hand (of Nugan Hand Bank infamy), Aristotle Onassis, being crowned mafia king in 1968, a deal to get oil from an area under NZ control in 1967; the covert heroin operations in the Golden triangle from the 1960s run by the CIA.
The paper states categorically the NZ PM Norman Kirk was killed by the Trilateralists using sodium morphate and his replacement Rowlings quickly buried Kirk's anti monopoly legislation.
The paper is partly diarised and the entry for 6 October 1974 claims:
"Ray Cline implements William Colby plan to oust Australian Prime Minister Whitlam. Nugan Hand Bank finances payoffs to Malcolm Fraser and other pro-US politicians. A joint bugging operation commences between CIA and ASIA.
Rupert Murdoch, playing his part, uses his newspapers and television network to spread lies and misinformation. Whitlam, as well as refusing to waive restrictions on overseas borrowing to finance the aluminium consortium, had plans to ensure that all corporations were at least 50% Australian-owned. This interfered with the Seven Sisters' plans to build three oil refineries at Cape Northumberland in South Australia to exploit the Great South Basin discovery. [this was an oilfield apparently discovered by J H. Hunt's company in about 1967 in NZ territory]
In December 1974 Kerr joins the same payroll. He received his first pay-off of $US200,000 credited to his account number 767748 at the Singapore branch of the Nugan Hand Bank."
This stuff is pretty hard to top.
Cline was CIA deputy director of intelligence at the time. Pilger notes in A Secret Country that Cline said the CIA passed on information to the opposition to discredit the Whitlam government and to put pressure on Australian civil servants who in turn would pressure the Governor-General. This other document goes much further than Pilger.
The anonymous author of "I Don't believe in all these conspiracy theories" at http://www.gwb.com.au/2000/myers/250300.htm does in fact believe them and is convinced that anyone reading a particular book by Carroll Quigley called the Anglo-American Establishment has been systematically removed from library shelves (the few libraries it ever made it to) as soon as she/he read them (unfortunately without the money to photocopy the crucial bits).
This conspiracy covers Whitlam, and the Republican Movement, the New World Order, The Trilateral Commission, Jews, Zionist and Gentiles.
Please excuse me. I'm going to hide in the cupboard now, making sure there are no cameras and listening devices installed first.
Some good non-conspiratorial analysis is around, including a terrific left wing paper by Phil Griffiths at http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/interventions/sacked.htm. called Strike Fraser Out! The labour movement campaign against the blocking of supply and the sacking of the Whitlam Government, October-December 1975. He analyses of how the labour movement responded at the leadership level and at the rank and file level.
Most of the histories leave out labour movement reaction, actions and the potential of those actions. Griffiths says "Amongst the Labor and trade union left, the vicious media campaign against Whitlam, conspiracies by the CIA, Whitlam's failure to consult, and the 25% tariff cut which led to thousands of job losses, were all emphasised. Very few sought to ask whether or not the working class upsurge of October and November might have stopped Fraser's attack had things been done differently. Indeed, the scale of the Labor Party's defeat on 13 December led many to conclude that the campaign hadn't mattered at all."
The official union leadership reacted with alarm to the spontaneous walkouts many workers were involved in as soon as they heard about the sacking.
As he notes, the working class was very angry indeed with Whitlam by the end of 1974, and the conservative forces had started to mobilise in earnest (this was the beginnings of what was called the New Right) against the government. Various crises had the government looking pretty terrible. However as soon as supply was blocked anger at the actions reversed opinion, with the ALP leaping ahead in opinion polls after looking pretty dismal all year.
A savage campaign from then by the Libs and the media reversed this again by election day. Was the working class response fading? Not according to Griffith, who rather sees it as a failure of an organised leadership to grasp the potential (or a fear of grasping that potential).
In summary Griffith says "The movement against the blocking of supply and the Kerr Coup has been misrepresented in most histories as an enthusiastic and bitter campaign of meetings and rallies focused on the re-election of the Whitlam government.
Yet at the beginning, there was a serious attempt to stop Fraser's bid for power using strike action that involved well over half a million workers - a major industrial campaign in anyone's terms. There was also a widespread, popular radicalism that was so militant that for perhaps the third or fourth time this century, the leaders of the labour movement were forced to discuss demands for national, general strike action. Indeed, for a time it looked as if the powerful left unions, such as the Metal Workers, might lead a struggle, but for reasons as yet unknown, they backed away from this. This was a struggle the labour movement could and should have won, and it paid a bitter price over the coming years for its defeat.
This movement brought sharply to the surface the inherent contradictions of labourism - setting out to administer the capitalist system while relying on working class organisation and struggle for its existence and success. The result of such politics is that at crucial times in the class struggle, when great issues are being decided, workers find their leaders preferring to accept defeat rather than fight. Half a century earlier, a leader of the British trade union movement declared, in the middle of that country's greatest general strike, "I have never disguised that in a challenge to the Constitution, God help us unless the government won."
The words may have been those of JH Thomas, but they summed up Bob Hawke and his appeal for Australian workers to "cool it". And yet, despite Hawke's efforts, the movement undermined Fraser and made his government more hesitant than either it had intended, or its supporters had wanted."
Humphrey McQueen writing in 1976 for Nation Review (republished in his Gallipoli to Petrov: arguing with Australian history (Allen & Unwin, 1984) notes that "Kerr's dismissal of the Whitlam Ministry so outraged Labor supporters that they could not believe that Sir John had merely fulfilled his constitutional obligations. An enormous variety of explanations circulated, ranging from a few Trotskyites who suggested that Kerr was himself a Trot and had sacked Whitlam in order to bring parliamentary democracy into disrepute, to stories about Kerr being blackmailed into the deed - on grounds of sexual or legal impropriety. Alternatively, Kerr had moved to forestall a military coup against Whitlam. A leading state Labor politician believes that Kerr consulted the chiefs of staff, after 11 November, on the possibility of calling off the election off and declaring a state of emergency. Not to be outdone, Nation Review gave a two-page spread to the 'Bilderberg Club', that standby of those who see the world in the grip of Jewish financiers. Undoubtedly the explanation which gained most coverage gravitated around Kerr's links with intelligence and right wing organisations."
McQueen himself noted the possible connections with a letter to the Canberra Times on 17 July 1975 in which he listed one example from the paper's own vice-regal column on the intelligence and military types who had been Kerr's guests on 20 September 1974.
"...Liberals convinced themselves that Whitlam, Cairns and Connor were lining up for a share of a reported $30million commission from the loans deal. By October 1975, people who had voted Labor in 1972 and 1974 were convinced that Whitlam was planning a personal dictatorship and that he had already nominated a five-person committee of public safety."
As McQueen says in this article (he makes a similar point about the Patrick dispute in his recent book Temper Democratic (Wakefield Press 1998)), the rich and dominant class don't appear to have to organise, its only the workers who are regarded with distrust for doing so. The trouble with cover-all conspiracy theories is that it allows the overlooking of the workings of the dominant class. Conspiracies amongst that class are then a day to day event, in that the continually organise to protect their interests from those who would seek to claim rights. The extraordinary actions that might reveal a more deliberate conspiratorial vein, would occur when the ruling class actors feel the need to assert their authority as the state apparatus is not up to the job.
Have you noticed what seems to be happening to industrial disputes in the last few years? If you've been keeping a casual eye on the media you may have noticed an increase in the number of lock-outs that are reported. One of the most recent happened in the media itself, when the journalists at the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the Fairfax group were locked out of their offices by their employers. (Although, in retaliation, many had locked themselves in.)
What is a lock-out? Simply put, a lock-out is when an employer refuses the allow their employees on the premises and does not allow them to work. It is a form of industrial action taken by employers rather than workers. Under the Workplace Relations Act employees and employers have a limited right to take industrial action. Consequently, there is a right to lock-out employees under the Act. This can only lawfully occur when bargaining for a Certified Agreement (CA), or an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA).
Lock-outs which take place during a bargaining period are regarded as 'protected' industrial action which means the action is free from civil liability for damages. Lockouts are only 'protected' if they occur during a properly notified bargaining period and there is a genuine attempt to reach agreement before the lock-out is imposed. In addition, three working days notice is to be given to each of the employees with whom the employer is negotiating. However, this notice is not required if the lock-out is a response to 'protected' industrial action (for example, a strike) by employees.
We can't be certain of the exact frequency or increase in the number of lock-outs around Australia because the statistics for industrial disputes are not categorised according to employee or employer action. So, at this stage we have to rely on anecdotal evidence and media reports. Nevertheless, the trend appears to be there. Let's look at some examples:
One of the most widely reported was the Patricks lock-out (and then dismissal) of 1400 waterside workers in April 1998. This decision was overturned by the High Court, but the reinstatement of the workers was put in the hands of the Administrators. As we know, it took a long time to settle. There have been many others since Patricks, most of which have not received the same attention.
In December 1998, workers at the Australian Dyeing Company were locked out for two months in the course of enterprise bargaining. The workers eventually won this dispute; they gained a pay rise and kept their collective agreement. In June '99 drillers at the Pasminco zinc mine in Tasmania were locked out for refusing to accept a pay cut. In December '99 glass workers in Melbourne were locked-out for four months without pay for refusing to agree to reduced conditions in the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. In March 2000, there was a mass lock-out of unionised workers in the construction industry in Victoria in response to the unions claims for a shorter working week and increased pay. In the same month there was also a lock-out of workers at the Yallourn power station because they refused to accept new rosters and hours of work, which would have led to a cut in pay. In NSW, the workers at the Joy Mining Machinery Company in Moss Vale have been locked out for three months over pay and conditions in the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
Finally, one of the longest running lock-outs in Australia's history was at the Packenham abattoir where the workers were locked-out for eight months because they refused to move to Australian Workplace Agreements or individual contracts. To keep their Enterprise Agreement they had to accept a pay cut of 17.5%. Both were unacceptable options. In this dispute, there had been no industrial action by the employees.
The common pattern in Australia seems to be a short strike over the terms and conditions offered by employers in the re-negotiation of the enterprise bargaining agreement. When the employees refuse to accept the employer's offer - which is invariably for a cut in pay and conditions - the strike is then followed by a lock-out. In some cases lock-outs are initiated by employers. Lock-outs are not resolving disputes, but exacerbating them. They often result in lengthy and protracted industrial disputes, and in this way, the pattern of enterprise bargaining is similar to US style contract bargaining. What do employers hope to achieve from the lock-out? Generally, they aim to force a reduction of wages and working conditions on employees, or as in the past, to break unions.
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who wrote the History of Trade Unionism in 1894, noted that the lock-out was used as far back as the late 1700s by the master breeches-makers in an effort to restrict the power of labour. The Webbs also record that the lock-out was used extensively in the UK in the 1860s in an attempt to break growing union strength. It was applied across whole industries, for example coal mining and ship building, where unionism was growing in strength. Even employees who accepted the employers' terms and conditions were locked-out if they were suspected of being a union member or if they supported fellow workers on strike. We no longer wear breeches, and there aren't that many Australians employed in ship building or coal mining, but employers still use the lock-out, and with increasing frequency.
Why are they being used in Australia now? Clearly, employers sense their increase in power and they can more easily employ anti-union tactics. Lock-outs potentially result in individualised agreements, pay cuts and reductions in terms and conditions of employment. The breakdown of one of the twentieth century pillars of Australian life, that is, the Arbitration and Conciliation system is also responsible for the return of the lock-out. Justice Higgins argued in 1915 that conciliation and arbitration would provide a new 'province of law and order' to replace 'the rude and barbarous process of strike and lockout'. This was a response to the period of immense industrial disputation of the late 19th century - some of the Great Strikes were also major lock-outs. In the Australian industrial relations of the 21st century, there is a danger that the lock-out is being locked-in as a standard employer tactic in enterprise bargaining.
Marian Baird is a lecturer in Work & Organisational Studies, University of Sydney
by Zoe Reynolds
Best known for leading his union to victory through the war on the waterfront, the national secretary of the Maritime Union, retires aged 60 after 38 years in the MUA and eight years at the helm. His deputy Paddy Crumlin, a former seafarer, will take over the leadership by unanimous decision of national council, with assistant secretary Mick O'Leary promoted to deputy.
John Coombs one time aspiring jockey, tradesman, wharfie, winemaker and weekend farmer counts among his greatest achievements chairing Australia's top industry super fund, SERF, now boasting an $180 million surplus, finalising the amalgamation of wharfies and seafarers and his role on the international stage as an executive member of the International Transport Workers' Federation.
"I'm going to leave knowing my life would have been totally different but for the union. No other way would I have seen the world, sitting on executive boards, meeting people around the globe and enjoying the respect this union and the Australian labour movement has earned internationally."
Besides leading 2000 sacked wharfies back through the gates after the Patrick dispute, John Coombs has knotched up dozens of industrial victories - his first win against Chris Corrigan in 1994 with the reinstatement of 55 sacked workers at Port Botany, the Buckeridge dispute in WA and the Labor government shipping policy of 1994 and 2000, land mark court victories against the government and Corrigan, and, more recently, court wins on behalf of the thousands of maritime workers exposed to asbestos.
His successor Paddy Crumlin paid tribute to his mentor's ability to take on the challenge of building a union of common interest and intent. "It's not easy combining two unions both with strong individual traditions, melding two hard metals into an alloy and tool in defence of maritime workers. John Coombs did this, drawing together the considerable intellect and talent in this union. He should be congratulated in delivering this no less for our victory in the Patrick dispute,a victory which put unionism back where it must be - in the community."
Assistant Secretary Mick O'Leary described John Coombs "not just as the right man in the right place at the right time, but an all time great union leader."
ACTU leader Greg Combet flew to Sydney especially to be by John's side for the media conference which attracted no less journalists than during the heady days of the 1998 dispute. Sitting beside framed portraits of union greats Jim Healy and Elliot V Elliot with John, Greg described the outgoing national secretary as his best mate and one of the greatest union leaders this country has produced.
This follows the ACTU secretary's tribute to John's leadership during the Patrick dispute at Congress in Wollongong earlier this year: "John was tough, reasoned, intelligent and compassionate throughout. He made every hard call, and I can tell you that there were many. He put absolutely everything on the line, and at great personal cost, never compromising his integrity or his commitment to the members and the union.
"Everywhere we went he attracted people in the street offering their encouragement and support," said Combet. "There is an inside story yet to be told about that dispute. One with a labour history perspective. And when it is eventually told it will record John Coombs as a tremendously courageous and decent person, a person who inspired others, a person who saved his union, and to whom we are indebted."
But the MUA leader said he not have won on his own. "Internationally we had the backing of the ICFTU and the ITF, in Australia we had the ACTU and the labour councils. They played a key role, not only mobilising workers on the pickets, but getting the broader community on side - everyone from artists, actors, writers, environmentalists, the church and sporting heroes. We could not have done it alone."
On 28 September 2000 a meeting was organised in Berlin (Germany) between Morocco and the Polisario Front, under the auspices of Mr. James Baker, the UN Secretary General's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, in order to "resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the settlement plan for Western Sahara and to try to find agreement on a mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute".
While the Polisario delegation was willing to discuss all the problems hindering the implementation of the peace plan, Morocco was stalling and did not want to discuss concrete problems at the heart of the current deadlock such as the Appeals Process, repatriation of refugees, release of political detainees and confidence building measures.
Morocco refused to discuss ways of overcoming the deadlock in the UN peace plan and sought to abandon the referendum process itself. It proposed to negotiate directly, with the POLISARIO Front, a solution that would guarantee Morocco's control over Western Sahara.
Polisario's reaction to this proposal was to utterly reject it. In a press release, the Polisario Front expressed its "full commitment to the peace plan and its willingness to discuss with Morocco, under the auspices of the United Nations, all the problems hindering the implementation of the plan, with the aim to organise a fair and free referendum in Western Sahara". For the Saharawi part, the Moroccan proposal was a naked attempt to sabotage the UN peace process. This was the first time that Morocco had publicly declared its intention to depart from the international community's efforts to solve the conflict in Western Sahara. "Morocco is the sole responsible for the present stalemate and will assume alone the consequences of any action which may threaten peace and stability in the region", the press release added.
On 25 October 2000, the UN Secretary General published his Report S/2000/1029, in which he made an assessment of the meetings in Geneva (July/2000) and Berlin (September/2000): no progress towards resolving the main problems, except that Morocco has, for the first time, acknowledged holding 207 Saharawi political prisoners. Confidence-building measures (contacts between families on both sides of the wall) were put on hold because of Morocco's refusal, which also opposed any discussion on the issue of the Appeals process. The Polisario Front maintained its position of faithful commitment to the peace plan.
On 30 October 2000, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution S/RES/1324 (2000), in which the Council "decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 28 February 2001, with the expectation that the parties, under the auspices of the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, will continue to try and resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute over Western Sahara."
The Polisario Front welcomed the fact that the Security Council, in its resolution, considered that the two parties should "try to reach an agreement on a mutually agreeable political settlement". This position set limits to Moroccan ambitions, said Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario Front representative to the United Nations, by establishing that "any alternative to the referendum must be accepted by the two parties and not only by one of them."
On the other hand, the Polisario Front believes that the position of Annan had moved away from the settlement plan. Ahmed Boukhari, in a declaration to the Spanish News Agency (EFE), declared that "the UN's clumsiness" in handling the conflict in Western Sahara "increases the risk of a new military confrontation". He added that Kofi Annan now "gives more weight to the search for a political solution than to his own settlement plan."
What we have witnessed from Morocco during the past nine years is foot dragging, blocking and now outright rejection of the UN peace plan. In other words, a sheer procrastination policy carried out with astonishing impunity. It is crystal clear that Morocco is the side, which has obstructed and continues to obstruct UN's efforts to settle peacefully the conflict in Western Sahara. But what is less clear is what UN and the international community at large intend to do to bring Morocco back to fulfil, once and for all, its commitments and fully implement the peace plan.
by Shaun Ryan
John Christian Watson
Aimed at a general readership, this biography by a former minister in the Whitlam government and a Chilean-born journalist attempts to reconstruct and contextualise the life and tines of John Christian Watson, the first Labo(u)r Prime Minister in the British Empire. According to the authors, Watson is a forgotten figure in Australian labour and political history.
By all accounts Watson is somewhat of a mystery man. Born aboard a Chilean vessel in the port of Valparaiso, to a Chilean father of German stock and a Irish-New Zealand mother, Watson was named Johan Cristian Tanck, a name he later rejected in favour of recreating a British identity, crucial for forging a parliamentary career.
After his father, a ships carpenter, disappeared, Watson's mother took him back to New Zealand, where she remarried a man named George Watson and whose name Johan Cristian adopted. Johan who now became John Christian trained as a compositor, joined the local union movement and took an interest in land reform. He arrived in Sydney after the death of his mother in 1888.
From here we are treated to an account of Watson's rise through the political labour movement. This biography of Watson is as much a history of the ALP and the authors are able to make the links between Watson and the wider political developments. The coming man within union and Labor circles, Watson was crucial in forging a united Labor Party.
His efforts were rewarded with parliamentary election in 1894 and leadership of Federal Labour in 1900, a position he held until ill health and a desire for a home life forced his retirement in 1907.
Described by contemporaries from both sides of the political fence as a "quiet achiever", Watson soon came to have a lasting impact on the ALP. The numerous photographs within the text depict a handsome and charming man. The authors present Watson as a dashing figure on the political stage, his dictum "support in exchange for concessions".
Watson's ascension to the throne of leadership is interesting. Contentious amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill over the coverage of public servants forced the resignation of the Deakin ministry and the appointment of Watson as the first Labor Prime Minister in April 1904. His cabinet included a number of figures better remembered in history including Billy Hughes and Andrew Fisher. Watson epitomised the pragmatist spirit within the ALP and quietly worked towards winning concessions to alleviate the worst of the conditions faced by working people. Unfortunately Watson's charms and negotiational skills were not enough to hold onto to reins of government. Ironically, four months later further amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill forced the resignation of Watson and his Labor Government. Although Watson was a world first, his tenure as Prime Minister is one of the world's shortest.
After having contributed so much to the development of Labor as a political force, World War One saw Watson part ways with his beloved ALP. A supporter of the war and conscription, he hid his German heritage and followed Hughes out of the Labor Party and into the Nationalist Party. He soon became disillusioned with politics, changed his appearance, and turned his attention to business interests.
The authors correctly raise the issue of the financial and emotional hardship faced by the early Labor leaders. Upon retirement from active politics, Watson became gold explorer in South Africa and a land speculator in Sutherland. Both efforts failed. Friends came to the rescue and Watson returned to his early roots and joined the AWU to assist with The Worker. He also tried his hand as a political
lobbyist. His business activities saw him involved on the creation of Yellow Cabs Australia, Ampol and the mighty NRMA. After the death of his long-suffering wife, Watson remarried and lived in relative contentment in Sydney's Double Bay until his death in 1941.
The authors have competently unravelled the puzzle of Watson's early life and provide a solid account of his political and business activities, complimented nicely by a measured analysis of his personal life. Unfortunately, in some places this biography reads more like a history of early Chilean-Australian contact. A mismatched epilogue: "Chile and Australia: Two Countries in the One Ocean" explores links between the two countries and suggests the rediscovery of Australia by Spanish explorers. One suspects that the authors tried to pay homage to their many Chilean acquaintances.
A more detailed analysis of Watson's union activities would more accurately account for his rise within the political labour movement. Despite this, the authors present a well written biography that is a pleasure to read and one that should appeal to most audiences.
Al Grassby and Silvia Ordonez, The Man Time Forgot. The Life and Times of John Christian Watson, Australia's First Labor Prime Minister. Pluto Press, 1999.
by The Chaser
"It's a horrible virus called Windows" said one network security specialist at the company, "We think it's called that because it makes you want to jump out of one".
"It taunts you with this little box saying 'Start' in the bottom left hand corner, and when you click on it, the screen goes blue and the computer crashes."
Another employee said the virus had made him extremely upset since it was installed on his computer a week ago. "Every few minutes it flashes up a little note saying 'Warning, system is out of memory resources'. Now I'm the one who's highly unstable," he said. The virus also seems to be capable of mutating. "The latest version seems to be called Windows Me," said one insider. "I don't want to windows anybody, thanks very much. It's an awful experience to put someone through."
Microsoft's CEO, Bill Gates, said he could not understand the reason behind the attacks and reiterated that he just wants to make the world a better place.
New Labour's political message in the 1997 campaign was based on an evaluation of the potential strengths and weaknesses of new Labour and the Conservatives and identified strategies in response to this evaluation of the two major parties. This evaluation and strategy was detailed in new Labour's campaign War Book. This not only set out these strengths and weaknesses but also assessed the divergence of theme, issues and the balance of risk between the two parties, the probable Conservative election strategy and summarised new Labour's view of the two potential futures facing the British electorate. It set out new Labour's agenda, focusing on its five key pledges. New Labour was characterised as a Party fit to face the future ("a new party, new constitution, united around its manifesto"), a future for the many, in which Britain would be led by "a strong Tony Blair" and in which "we are all better off". The Conservative "future" was the opposite of this - a party unfit to govern ("divided, incompetent, dishonest"), a future for the few, in which Britain is pushed around under a weak Major and in which we are worse off.
New Labour's communication strategy was summarised as consisting of three campaign "pillars" - the three "Rs". These "three Rs" were set out in new Labour's campaign War Book. The first of these was reminding the electorate of the mistakes of eighteen years of Conservative government. These were detailed as twenty-two Conservative taxes (you are paying more tax under the Tories), four in ten eleven-year-old children are below an acceptable standard in math's and English, there have been 20,000 new managers and 50,000 fewer nurses in the National health Service, crime has doubled under the Conservatives and one in five homes has no wage earner. The second was reassuring the electorate that Labour had changed and that new Labour was real Stress was laid on their 400,000 new Labour Party members, the new Party constitution which had been agreed by a massive majority, the early election manifesto having been endorsed by the Party membership and new Labour's partnership with business. The third was rewarding the electorate for voting Labour, with its five key pledges consisting of a limited number of simple and straightforward commitments. The whole aim was to convince the electorate that voting new Labour would make a difference and result in a positive and real change in voters' life.
New Labour's policies were designed also to specifically attract its various target groups of voters - traditional Labour voters and the "switchers". Firstly, traditional Labour voters were appealed to by its policies on education, health and jobs, as well as its opposition to Post Office privatisation. This appeal emphasised giving all a stake in society - "a national of all the talents". Its vision was of a decent society, opposed to the hard-hearted individualism of the Conservative years. New Labour would address poverty and unemployment (through a minimum wage, investing in education and a comprehensive job creation program, funded not by increased income tax but by a tax on the windfall profits of privatised utilities) and enhanced patient services in the National Health Service.
New Labour sought to appeal to these voters (and the electorate generally) with an emphasis that its platform was "inclusive". They argued that while the Conservatives had previously sought to frighten the electorate about change by delivering an anti-Labour message, new Labour's weapon would be "hope". Tony Blair defined new Labour's decent society as one which "judges itself by the condition of the weak as well as the strong," new Labour would be a "radical government", providing opportunities to ensure that "each generation does better than the last", "for all the people, not just a privileged few" - that was the difference between it and the Conservatives. This was reflected in Blair's statement towards the end of the campaign that:
People say that if you don't stand for the past, you stand for nothing. That is nonsense. We stand for strong values and principles. I do believe in a fair deal for ordinary people. I can read a speech of Keir Hardie and recognise exactly what I believe. I can do the same with Attlee and Wilson. What I would not recognise are the prescriptions. The liberation of the Labour Party from out-dated prescriptions, to allow those values to take root in the modern world, is of enormous benefit.
Secondly, appeals to "switchers" were on the basis of new Labour's caution and prudence, personified in the campaign focus on the personal image of Tony Blair, and assisted by the reinforcing perception of Conservative economic incompetence. The campaign focus on the Party Leader was reflected in its manifesto, billboard, newspaper advertisements, leaflet and pledge card message, with Tony Blair providing a personal commitment, presented almost as a personal contract with British voters", complete with his personal signature. This gave the impression of Tony Blair as almost being above the Party, with him making a direct and personal pledge to the electorate. Pre-election polling revealed that this image was successful in challenging voter cynicism.
More generally new Labour's 1997 election policies can also be broadly seen as an appeal to what was referred to as "middle England." This can be seen in various policy commitments by new Labour. On taxation, it stated that there would be no income tax increases under a future Blair-led Labour government. On privatisation, new Labour committed itself to opposing Conservative plans to privatise the Post Office but also opposed the re-nationalisation of what had formerly been British Rail. With respect to trade unions, new Labour would treat them with fairness not favours. On Europe, new Labour's statements can be seen as being well-balanced and attuned to the mood of the electorate, being on the one hand sufficiently "Euro-sceptic" to reassure voters concerned at the potential loss of British sovereignty in a potential "European super-state"; and, on the other hand, assuring voters that under new Labour Britain would play an important role in the future development of the European Union. On crime, new Labour had long sought to make attacking crime "its" issue, with its assurances that it would be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime". Similarly, new Labour's emphasis that its various election pledges were carefully costed can be seen as an attempt to reassure the middle-class voter. Combined with the publicity given by the Party to its internal reforms and the almost "military" organisation of the Party's campaign machine, all of these aspects of new Labour's political message can be seen as a carefully crafted attempt to attract the support of Britain's middle-class voters.
Yet new Labour also sought to present a policy package, which had the potential to "marry" its appeal to its two broad target groups of voters, the "switchers" and traditional Labour voters. This is best demonstrated in new Labour's cornerstone policies on the future of privatised utilities and the national lottery under a new Labour government. These policies combined enhanced government regulation, new taxes on excessive profits and the connection of these to the achievement of agreed social outcomes. The latter included the creation of employment and training programs for the unemployed and significant increases to health sector funding. In the one policy, new Labour had therefore created an electorally popular and financially sustainable response to the traditional Conservative allegations that Labour was fundamentally a "tax and spend" party. It combined a response which overcame new Labour's inability to re-nationalise the utilities and supported its aim of no income tax increases and the desire for action on unemployment.
The Conservatives dismissed all this as being merely symptomatic of Tony Blair's "lack of commitment". In their view, he would do anything his "spin doctors" advised him would help win the forthcoming 1997 election. Blair referred to this as his having been likened to either "Bambi" or "Stalin".
Blair responded that Labour's priority was to defeat the Conservatives and that the Conservatives were merely attempting to denigrate the Centre Left of British politics. He stated that the Conservatives wanted to reduce the political options for British voters by portraying the choice on the Centre-Left as being between:
a very principled Labour Party that was unelectable ... (and a Labour Party that was) ... electable and unprincipled.
An example of how new Labour communicated its message to its target groups, young or first-time voters were targeted with the "time for a change" theme. Apart from the general themes of the campaign (i.e. things can only get better, bright colour schemes, emphasis on education and employment initiatives), a number of innovative tactics were used to attract the youth vote, including much publicised new Labour associations with youth figures and various innovative campaign materials. In this way, Tony Blair and new Labour cultivated and received the support of popular music figures (such as Blur and Oasis) and sporting figures (such as Alex Ferguson). Blair and his family were promoted as supporters of "key" successful major league football clubs (Newcastle United, Manchester United and Arsenal) - and in the process supporting teams in some of new Labour's key target areas (i.e. London and the Midlands, as well as the North)! His main television election broadcast featured Blair as the young father playing football with his children and he had established a record as having a view on football which appeared to coincide with concerns amongst football supporters. This youth appeal was carried forward in various innovative campaign tools such as the use of a pop song as the campaign theme song, the production of the election manifesto in a youth magazine format, an interaction CD-ROM containing their youth policies and direct mail video to all first-time voters.
This is one of the reasons why Blair sought to demonstrate the difference between himself and the Conservative leadership as being generational, stating in the middle of the campaign that he was "a modern man, from the rock and roll generation - The Beatles, colour TV, that's my generation.
The Centre is Mine' by Jim Claven is published by Pluto press
Workers, labour rights activists and students staged an appeal to Tiger Woods to push Nike to improve factory conditions at the Shangri La hotel in Bangkok last Tuesday. Woods was there to receive an honorary doctorate of philosophy in sports science.
The group called on the golf champion, who has a US $100 million contract with Nike, to press Nike to improve working conditions in Thai factories.
Workers from Thai Iryo Garment Workers Union, Par Garment Workers Union and representatives from the Labour Coordinating Center, Thai Labour Campaign, Center for Labour Information Service and Training, All State Enterprise Worker Federation, StateRailway Workers Union and members of Thai Student Federation joined together in the appeal.
"We are calling on Tiger Woods to address the plight of Thai workers because he is a Nike spokesperson; this has nothing to do with the fact that he is part Thai," said Junya Yimprasert, coordinator of the Thai Labour Campaign.
"Nike must take responsibility for the welfare of workers producing their products no matter whether it is a factory or subcontractor and no matter the nationality of the employee," said Savit Kaewvarn, vice secretary general of the All State Enterprise Worker Federation.
It is estimated that there are over 70,000 workers producing shoes and sportswear for Nike in Thailand. Most of these workers receive only minimum wages with no welfare benefits. They work 10-12 hour days in often hazardous conditions.
One Nike employee who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of being fired, described often working until 2am to meet production quotas. Instead of receiving legal overtime pay, workers at her factory, in Lop Buri, were paid by piecework. "I have to leave my daughter at my parents' house because children are not allowed in the dormitories. I only see her every two weeks because I cannot afford to take time off to travel," she said.
In addition, thousands of Thai migrant workers are producing Nike products under abysmal conditions in Taiwan. Workers often have to work for years just to pay off their travelling and installment costs.
In contrast, through his five year Nike contract, Tiger woods earns US$55,000 a day.
A Thai worker producing Nike clothing would have to work for 14,000 days or 38 years to receive this same amount. On the contrary, Nike spends the equivalent of 14,000 workers daily salaries to pay Tiger Woods for just one day.
A worker would have to work for 26.5 million days or 72,000 years to receive what Tiger Woods gets during his five year contract with Nike.
Recently, factories producing for Nike in Thailand have been shifting production to subcontractors and non-union facilities and to the provinces where wages and benefits are even lower.
For example, unionized workers formerly producing for Nike at the Thai Iryo Garment factory in Rangsit were laid off while Nike production shifted to the Garment Tech factory in Bangkok and VT Garment in Sathupradit.
Many workers have been laid off from the unionized Lian Thai and Phar Garment factories just to wind up producing the same products for subcontractors and receiving lower wages without legal protection.
The workers presented an appeal to Tiger woods to ask Nike that all employees receive the equivalent of a living wage in the country in which they are producing.
This living wage should enable a worker and two dependents to be able to live in decent conditions.
The appeal called for Nike to respect worker rights to unionize and collectively bargain and to provide protection to labour leaders. In addition Nike must take responsibility for working conditions and ensure rights and decent wages in subcontracting facilities and piecework operations which are not protected by Thai law. Nike must ensure that its own safety standards are actually implemented in the factories.
"University students love to wear Nike. But we want them to understand that expensive Nike products are being produced by workers with no quality of life. Nike derives huge profits and spends millions on advertising but pays its workers next to nothing," said Sarayuth Jailak, secretary general of the Student Federation of Thailand.
by Alison Peters and Mary Yaager
Piers looks in!
Sam Moait Labor Council's President said "the Sussex Street Boys offered big bucks to buy a table at the event however they were knocked back".
The gals also thought they caught a glimpse of Piers peeping in through a port hole window on the south side.
Women from all facets of the Union Movement attended the event and roared with laughter as a panel of successful women recounted their life's most embarrassing and memorable moments.
Naomi Steer, Ex-Labor Council Officer, said her most embarrassing moment was when she had to perform a karaoke duet in Japan with Michael Costa. The song was Hey Hey Paula. "The worst line I had to sing was " I want to marry you too" " My face still glows with embarrassment when I think about it' Naomi continued to say.
Justice Trish Kavanagh, Judge with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission recounted that when she first went to the Bar she received a number of briefs from the Health Industry Unions which came to a stop when "that man I married" became the Minister for Health. More recently the biggest compliment she was paid was when another unnamed judge described her to a couple of barristers as being "a great advocate in this place before you were born".
Grace Grace who is the first woman Secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions (or as she is dubbed by the press " Secretary and mother of one") delighted the guests by recounting how she learnt the numbers game from a NSW bloke. She's a good learner given her current position.
Sharan Burrow, President of the ACTU said she was starting to feel relaxed in her new position when she attended a typical union Barbie and had a delegate approach her and say " well you've turned out to be alright. I thought you were going to be a f****** dud". The moral is to never take your position for granted but at least Sharan felt she'd made it!
Feedback from those attending was that it was a great night and that it was good to see highly successful women being able to see the humorous side of their work and being able to laugh at themselves. The dinner also showed that women in the union movement are fun.
Tony Abbott was in the SMH this week quoting that champion of outsourcing Karl Marx's famous dictum "from each according to their ability, to each according to his need".
We doubt Marx had the idea of contracting out welfare in mind when writing his Manifesto and Capital. We are even less convinced that the great man would have had any regard for a spivvy political gold-digger like the Mad Monk.
Perhaps Abbot has been reading his Engels and has acted to get government out of welfare after being alarmed by the following:
It was found that the state institutions, in which the rule of the bourgeoisie is organised, offer the working class still further opportunities to fight these very state institutions.
A fuller reading of just a small sample of Marx's work would come up with the following words of wisdom which might serve as a warning to The Monk and his ilk.
Finally to the Monk's resort to the words of the Pope to fix welfare recipients "in their place" in the social order. Marx may have replied:
But enough of our vitriol for some genuine analysis we hand over Workers Online reader M.Webb who nominated Abbott:
"Tony Abbott speaks of mutual obligation for the unemployed however, in the absence of many full time jobs, he is now roping in St Vincent de Paul & charities in general, in his latest effort to shift responsibility from government to individuals and community organisations.
Tony Abbott very selectively quotes from the Catholic Church and the current Pope in order to gratuitously advise St Vincent de Paul to follow the Liberal Party philosophy to contract out Federal government responsibility to look after the unemployed financially.
Tony Abbott, once associated with Bob Santamaria's National Civic Council. However, even Santamaria believes in support for the unemployed by government and would never burden charities with the responsibility of social security. Tony forgets that the NCC supports the Industrial Relations Commissions and its former role before Peter Reith changed it with anti worker laws. Tony also holds to many North Shore Sydney Liberal views about God and the role of government quite at odds with the old labor views held by the old Industrial groupers he once had an association with before he entered Parliament. Tony is also at odds with the Irish Aussie labor views of many people south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and beyond the NorthSydney Chatswood to Berowra/Hornsby Lib set he hangs out with.
If Tony followed St Paul and the church view of real work shirkers, he would honestly have to give himself a real pay cut for his policies on contracting out of the old CES to private enterprise and thoroughly stuffing it up. Generally, as he holds the Federal Liberal cabinet line on selling off public assets, privatisation etc, he should then recognise that as he is 'devolving' himself of government responsibilities to the private sector, that as he is a publicly funded Tory, that he should take a big pay cut and live by his Liberal beliefs. "
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005