Workers Online
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Workers Online
  Issue No 84 Official Organ of LaborNet 16 February 2001  

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Features
*  Interview: Life After Wartime
After ten years representing the interests of the labour movement in Parliament, Jeff Shaw is back at the bar. And loving it.
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*  Legal: Why the Freeloaders Should Pay
Michael Costa explains why service fees are not only fair - they are economically rational.
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*  Organising: Young Activists Bask in Union Summer
Sydney students have spent three weeks of their summer holidays experiencing on-the-ground work with unions.
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*  Unions: Things Are Looking Up On The Dock
After six years as a call centre worker, Marios Ellas has joined the union movement. Here's his first impressions.
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*  History: Trades Hall – The Royal Connection
Republic, who needs it when we have the Trades Hall decreed by Royal Imprimatur? So tug your forelock as work commences to restore the building.
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*  International: Greetings from Hong Kong
Chan Wai-Keung from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions outlined the challenges facing Hong Kong workers.
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*  Politics: One Nation - The Old Labor Link
The resurgence in One Nation in the WA election has the pundits again reaching for the tea-leaves. But are they pouring from the wrong pot?
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*  Review: Elect the Ambassador
Labor frontbencher Duncan Kerr unveils his vision for a new international democracy.
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*  Satire: Man Buys Big Issue for the Articles
A Melbourne businessman claims his recent purchase of the "Big Issue" was due to his interest in the magazine's editorial content.
*


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No Summer Holiday - Combet and the Union Summer team


Young Workers: The Wage Gypsies
Unions need to change the way they look at the very notion of 'work' if they want to attract young people to the movement, according to Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training director John Buchanan.
[ Full Story » ]

Union Members Tell Scabs: Sing for Your Supper
Trade unions are being inundated with calls from members demanding they levy fees against non-members freeloading on their work.
[ Full Story » ]

Genetic Advances Spark New Privacy Issues
Employers would have the capacity to store information about the medical histories – and even future health- of workers and their families if genetic testing of workers becomes widespread, the NSW Privacy Commissioner has warned.
[ Full Story » ]

Wentworth Twenty Emerge Victorious
All Sydney Wentworth Hotel workers, who were retrenched illegally, will be back on the workplace roster from next Monday morning, following today’s negotiations and an Industrial Relations Commission hearing.
[ Full Story » ]

Racing Radio Makes Way for Workers’ Voice
The historic sale of 2KY passed a major hurdle at this week’s Annual General Meeting with affiliates voting unanimously to approve the deal with the NSW TAB.
[ Full Story » ]

Another Major Centre Takes Union Call
International call centre giant Sitel, a major player in the Australian contract call centre industry, has a reached a landmark agreement with the Australian Services Union.
[ Full Story » ]

Transport Passes Key Issue for Young Workers
Young apprentices and trainees in Sydney’s west and rural NSW are spending large chunks of their income on transport costs because the government won’t give them access to concession cards, unions have been told.
[ Full Story » ]

Shier Calls the Cops! - Fear and Loathing at the ABC
ABC managing director Jonathon Shier has turned police on his own staff in a bid to stop criticism leaking from the organsation.
[ Full Story » ]

BHP Contracts Battle Goes Back to the Coalface
Workers at BHP Iron Ore in the Pilbara region of Western Australia will take their battle against the company's attempt to move its workforce onto individual contracts out of the courts and into the workplace.
[ Full Story » ]

Newcastle Mill to be Union Project
This week’s announcement of a new $2.8 billion steel mill for Newcastle was a slap in the face for the Howard industrial relations agenda, NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says.
[ Full Story » ]

Government Must Lead on Casual Leave
The ACTU has slammed the Federal Government's failure to support an ACTU test case to extend unpaid maternity leave to casual workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Della Ends Discrimination on Leave Entitlements
People who start work under the age of 18 will have the same access to long service leave entitlements as older workers after the Car Government announced it would close a loop-hole in the laws.
[ Full Story » ]

Rural Safety Campaign Pays Off
A push to raise awareness of the dangers rural workers face has paid off, with the Carr government announcing a half million dollar safety awareness campaign targeting the sector.
[ Full Story » ]

Mom Always Said … Don’t Break a Picket
Those years of wholesome moralising seems to have been a waste of time for TV’s Greg Brady. He’s emerged from obscurity as a strike-breaker!
[ Full Story » ]


Letters to the Editor
  • Aceh activist in Sydney

  • Save Ningaloo Reef From The Developers

  • Editorial

    The Fountain of Youth

    A fair bit of energy has been expelled in recent weeks working out ways of attracting young people into a trade union movement that sorely needs them.

    It is, after all the ultimate challenging for a movement faced with an aging and declining membership levels and a structure of working life that may not be conducive to old style industrial representation.

    This week Labor Council held a forum on the issue where the problems of attracting the youth demographic were writ large: many young people are attracted to the notion but far fewer actually join. For some it's the image of macho blue-collar workers, for other it's the fact that they don't even identify themselves as a worker.

    Meanwhile, the ACTU's Union Summer campaign was drawing to a close, invigorated activists returning to work or campuses after experiencing first hand the highs and lows of organizing workers.

    As they met in Sydney to debrief one of the participants observed that unionism is more than just wages and conditions and disputes: it's about friendship and camaraderie and plain, old-fashioned dignity at work.

    It wasn't a particularly new observation, but it was a fresh one. What many of us take to be core union business is really peripheral to the feeling of being together in the workplace.

    It's as if the concept of unionism has become the most attractive thing and the actual institution the biggest turn-off.

    Perhaps it's time to start thinking outside the 'union' model, placing more emphasis on building alliance of workers, rather than trying to get them to join anything.

    Washtech - the Washington Alliance of Technical Workers for example, offers no industrial services, but merely offers IT workers some basic info and a place to sound off.

    It may not lead to an immediate resurgence in union numbers, but it might just get individuals starting to think of themselves as members of a group. Which is the most important threshold issue.

    A youth strategy? The answer does not lie in putting young people into a box. Like every one else, they defy pigeon-holing. But, as one speaker at this week's forum pointed out, a good first step is to stop talking to young people and to start listening.

    Peter Lewis
    Editor


    Columns

    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Bob Carr: Why Unions Work Organising on the Forward Line Heroes of the Movement Tools First – The Human Haircut

     


    
    

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