|Issue No 84||16 February 2001|
Tools First – The Human Haircut
The man known as 'the Haircut', Garry Brack, has burst into the Toolshed by attempting to repackage the crusty old Employers Federation of NSW into a guerilla organisation.
While we have long been fans of Bracky's predictable pooh-poohing of each new trade union innovation, his own attempt to modernize the Emp Fed borrows straight from the more militant elements of the union movement.
Plagarising the 'Workers First' tagline used by candidates challenging the metalworkers leadership in elections last year, he's repackaged the Federation as 'Employers First'.
Workers First raised to prominence by advocating guerilla industrial tactics, wildcat strike action in support of unsustainable claims, the none too subtle bare-fisted street-fighters of organized labour.
If the Haircut's work this week is any indication, he's gained inspiration from this sort of extremism. Anyone who caught him on Lateline this week would have seen a man using hyperbole to grab a bit of media time (not that there's anything wrong with that ...).
The issue was service fees for trade union members and the AIRC decision finding that there was no legal barrier to levying the freeloaders for the work that goes into securing a pay rise.
What did we get from the employers? A sensible debate about the issue of user pays in industrial relations? Not on your Nellie! 'Industrial conscription!', the Haircut cried, 'compulsory unionism!', 'Lock up your daughters the unions are coming to get you!'.
Of course the reality is that playing the militant is in the employer organisations' interests. Only by whipping up fear and loathing of trade unions among the business community will these organizations get their client base. Groups like Employers First are more reliant on the class warfare for their business, than the trade unions they so happily monster.
And what makes the Haircut' line all the more intriguing is that anyone who were to ring up Employers First and ask for some free help in blocking the next pay rise would be told to join up or take their business elsewhere. You see, user-pays is one of those wonderful concepts that only appeals to capital when someone else is the user.
So if your looking for a whacko group preaching prejudice and double-standards you don't need to go to One Nation, Employers First are ready to take your call!
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.
Legal: Why the Freeloaders Should Pay
Michael Costa explains why service fees are not only fair - they are economically rational.
Organising: Young Activists Bask in Union Summer
Sydney students have spent three weeks of their summer holidays experiencing on-the-ground work with unions.
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.
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.
International: Greetings from Hong Kong
Chan Wai-Keung from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions outlined the challenges facing Hong Kong workers.
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?
Review: Elect the Ambassador
Labor frontbencher Duncan Kerr unveils his vision for a new international democracy.
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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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005