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  Issue No 79 Official Organ of LaborNet 24 November 2000  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Back on Track
After blowing the whistle on rail privatization, NSW Transport Minister Carl Scully is rebuilding bridges with the trade union movement.
*  Unions: The Problem with Organising
It may be the new mantra, but Brisbane Institute director Peter Botsman argues that organising may be the wrong to go for a movement attempting to attract a new breed of workers.
*  International: Burma: Workers Act on ILO Ruling
Energy workers' trade unions across the Asia-Pacific have urged Western oil and gas companies to "cease investment in Burma while the use of forced labour continues".
*  Economics: Rethinking Incomes Policy
While many have thrown incomes policy out with the Acoord bathwater, Graham White argues it still has a role to play.
*  History: What Goes Around Comes Around
Labor Council's Mark Lennon argues that while trade unions - and labour history - might be unfashionable, there's life left in both of them.
*  Education: Peas in a Pod
Both sides of politics must take blame for funding levels in our public schools, argues NSW Teachers Federation president Sue Simpson.
*  Satire: Hurley Rebukes Actors' Guild: I'm No Actor!
Liz Hurley has responded angrily to claims by actors that she crossed a picket line by filming an Estee Lauder ad.
*  Review: It's Only a Job
In a stunning new book, author Phil Thornton and photographer Paul Jones have combined to portray working life in all its diversity through the eyes of ordinary people like process worker Sharonak Shannon

It's Only a Job

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Donatello's Korean War Cry

Olympics Pay Bonus Warning
Games employers have been given a stern reminder that the Sydney 2000 Olympics pay bonus is due next week and that failure to pay will lead to swift retaliatory action.
[ Full Story » ]

Korean Unions Lift The Roof
Korean workers broke out in song after scoring a win over insurance giant GIO on behalf of one of their colleagues.
[ Full Story » ]

Raw Asbestos to be Blocked at Ports
Waterside workers announced they would instigate safety bans on shipments of raw asbestos coming into the country, effective immediately.
[ Full Story » ]

We Don't Want Your Blood Money!
Centrelink staff are horrified by revelations the agency will receive a $6 million funding boost if it 'breaches' enough unemployed people.
[ Full Story » ]

Casual Maternity Leave Put to the Test
The ACTU has launched a test case that seeks to extend unpaid maternity and parental leave rights to casual workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Reith's Industrial Spy Loses Secret Tape Case
In another blow to besieged Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith, the Federal Court this week dismissed an application by the Employment Advocate, Jonathan Hamberger against the CFMEU and one of its shop stewards over freedom of association issues.
[ Full Story » ]

Alarm Bells Start Ringing on WorkCover
Trade unions are raising concerns about the direction of the state's workers compensation scheme now under its new leadership.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers Ask NAB To Have A Heart
Shafted workers from the failed Steel Tank and Pipe (STP) company traveled from Newcastle to Sydney this week to plead with bankers to give them first call on any money recovered by liquidators.
[ Full Story » ]

Wattyl Happen on Monday?
Paint workers who were issued lock-out notices by Wattyl expect to march back through the gates at 6am on Monday morning - with flags flying and their heads held high.
[ Full Story » ]

Wage Stats Back ACTU Living Wage Claim
This week's release of Wage Cost Index data confirms wages growth remains moderate and well below the Reserve Bank's comfort zone - adding fuel to the ACTU's Living Wage claim.
[ Full Story » ]

Deadline Approaches for Organiser of the Year
There's just one more week to get in nominations for Labor Council's Organiser of the year Award, to be presented at the Annual Dinner on December 8.
[ Full Story » ]

Training Crisis - Carr Called to Action
Building workers this week backed calls for the State Government to create an apprentice training fund with strike action at St Vincent's Hospital.
[ Full Story » ]

Cleaners Down Garbage Bags
Domestic workers at Canberra's wealthiest school this week handed the school principal, as she arrived at work, green plastic garbage bags and other domestic implements.
[ Full Story » ]

Shaw's Man Aims for Canberra
Former NSW industrial relations minister Jeff Shaw's long-time chief-of-staff, Adam Searle, has been preselected as the ALP candidate for Macquarie at the next federal election.
[ Full Story » ]

Life After Seattle: A Citizen's Guide to the WTO
The first anniversary of the Seattle protests will be marked in Sydney will be marked by the launch of a book that explains the World Trade Organisation to the punters.
[ Full Story » ]

Sinn Fein Deputy in Sydney
Martin McGuiness, the deputy leader of the Sinn Fein movement and Minister for Education in the fledgling Northen Ireland Government will be in Sydney next week.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Workers Online Mailbox Breaks Down

  • Editorial

    Heretical Thoughts

    Brisbane Institute director and one-time Evatt Foundation honcho Peter Botsman came out this week and said what many in the union movement have been whispering behind closed doors for some time now: organizing may not be the panacea that some hold it out to be.

    In a speech delivered to the peak welfare body ACOSS, Botsman likened the ACTU's commitment to organizing to the institutionalised activism of ACOSS. Both organizations, he argued, were entrenching their membership in old categories.

    But what, Botsman asks, of the growing section of the workforce who want to run their own business? How do workers get activated against themselves?

    While Botsman has aligned himself with the Third Way and preaches notions of social entrepreneurship with his mate Mark Latham, he does raise some issues of substance about organising.

    While organising has proven an effective tool in shifting trade union hierarchies from looking inward to looking outwards - the jury is still out on how effective this strategy has been capturing the hearts and minds of workers, particularly the young aspirants who make up the growth sections of the workforce.

    One issue that organizing leaves unanswered is what happens to the vast majority of workers who don't want to become 'activists', but who would be willing recipients of union services if only they were packaged properly.

    In an era where time is being constantly squeezed and family time is a priority, are campaigns that require out of hour commitments the best way of bringing people into the movement?

    Think of the big successes this year and you'd think of Unions 2000, which signed up more than 40 per cent of Games workers. Yet this was primarily an exercise in servicing, offering protection to workers in a new work environment.

    The reason such thoughts are heretical is that the some have adopted organizing as a mantra, almost to the point where the concept has been fetishized, despite previous brushes with the notion of the One Big Answer.

    In the 1980s it was European notion of social partnership that got taken to its extreme with the Accord; now it's the American model of organizing being embraced on an all or nothing basis.

    Let's not dump organising: it has much to offer the trade union movement. But at the same time let's not kid ourselves that in a complex world there is just one formula for re-unionizing Australia.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Eric Lee: The Problem with ICANN Legends in Their Own Byline Neal Towart's Labour Review The Liquidator



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