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Workers Online
  Issue No 85 Official Organ of LaborNet 23 February 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Tony Abbott � Workers' Friend?
The new Workplace Relations minister relives his own union background and explains why he�s really just another worker at heart. Honestly.
*  Politics: The Politics of Petrol
Australia might be burning, but is it a fire that can be brought under control?
*  Organising: The Battle of Campsie
SDA delegate Maria Kavaratzis recounts how the Campsie Big W has been transformed into a union shop.
*  History: Scabbing Through the Ages
Neale Towart looks back at how popular culture has treated those workers who have not considered themselves part of the collective.
*  International: Diary of a Showdown
The Korean Metal Workers Federation recounts a week which culminated in violent attacks on workers outside the Daewoo factory.
*  Economics: Debt Dumping Campaign Enters New Phase
The millennial deadline might have passed, but Jubilee 2000 is not giving up the fight for debt cancellation for the world�s fifty-two poorest countries.
*  Health: The Real Drug Wars
As Africa attempts to deal with the HIV crisis, access to the medicines that can relieve victims� suffering is emerging as a major humanitarian issue.
*  Satire: Liberals Claim Triumph in Queensland
John Howard has claimed the Liberal Party�s decimation in Western Australia and Queensland as a triumphant vindication of his party�s embracing of the national competition policy.
*  Review: Beyond a White Australia
As we ponder the One Nation renaissance, a new book challenges the current debates around xenophobia and the perceived threat of danger from Asia.

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Shangri- La: The Cost of Activism
Photo: International Union of Foodworkers

Labor To Move on Outsourcing Scams
A Beazley Government would ensure that companies could not outsource staff as a way of bypassing industrial agreements, Labor�s IR spokesman Arch Bevis has vowed in the wake of this week�s Stellar decision.
[ Full Story » ]

Opera Workers Join Freeloader Chorus
Stage crew and designers at Opera Australia want a service fee levied against freeloaders as part of their next agreement.
[ Full Story » ]

Independent Eyes for Asbestos Deal
James Hardies Industries� offer to buy out its liability for asbestos-related illnesses should be reviewed by NSW Government actuaries, a �skeptical� NSW trade union movement believes.
[ Full Story » ]

Employment Records Must Be Protected
The Carr Government will be pushed to bring employment records under the coverage of privacy laws amidst fears they are being traded in business transactions.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers to Float Down Oxford Street
Unionists will again be marching in the annual Mardi Gras Parade on the March 3 to show their support for lesbian and gay workers and to promote fair workplaces that are free of discrimination and harassment.
[ Full Story » ]

Competitive Tendering Hits Welfare Sector
Operators of disability advocacy and information services have been told by the Carr Government they will need to undergo a competitive tendering process to get funding for the next financial year.
[ Full Story » ]

Violence Hits Indonesian Dispute
The long-running Shrangi-La Hotel dispute in Indonesia has turned nasty, with thugs attacking union officials and workers.
[ Full Story » ]

Locked Out, �Cause The Boss Won�t Talk
Australian bosses are increasingly using the lockout as an industrial tactic in their fight against their own workforce, and the unions they join.
[ Full Story » ]

New Laws To Protect Carers
Employers will be required to provide workplaces where employees can take time off to care for family members, under laws to take effect next week.
[ Full Story » ]

Acoustic Shock Cases Tip of the Iceberg
The response to a Melbourne Express story on acoustic shock in call centres suggests we may have only seen the tip of the iceberg as more and more cases of this new industrial injury emerge.
[ Full Story » ]

Teachers Fed Gives Free Membership to Students
The Federation has targeted student teacher recruitment in 2001 as a priority for the union and is offering free membership to potential members.
[ Full Story » ]

Miners Union Calls for �Community Dividend�
The coal mineworkers union has called on BHP to put some of its profits back into the community and protect Australian jobs.
[ Full Story » ]

Hanson's Nursing Plan Bad for Health
Pauline Hanson's One Nation policy of restoring hospital-based training for registered nurses would lead to the dumbing down of the profession, nurses say.
[ Full Story » ]

Refugee Plight Focus of NESB Network
A new network of unionists from non-English speaking backgrounds has set the plight of refugees on temporary protection visas as its first priority.
[ Full Story » ]

Unions Pause On New Safety Laws
There are big gains for workers with new health and safety laws which are set to replace the myriad of rules and regulations that currently exist in NSW.
[ Full Story » ]

Heavy Handed Tactics Leave Speedo Workers Exposed
Speedo have announced they are ceasing manufacturing at Windsor with the loss of around 65 jobs with manufacturing tol be transferred to outside Australia .
[ Full Story » ]

Activists Notebook
A forum for regional workers, action in support of Western Sahara and a fundraiser for Emily's List are all on the activists' agenda for the next weeks.
[ Full Story » ]

Vale: Charlie Fitzgibbon (1922-2001)
The man who gave the union movement industry superannuation, leave loading and the Accord has died.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • No Shrinking Violet

  • Service Fees a Cop Out

  • Not Quite Right on Discrimination

  • Explaining it to Pauline

  • The Canada Bay Debacle

  • Editorial

    Paying Their Way

    It's time to call the freeloaders to account. Armed with a groundbreaking federal decision, unionists across the country are demanding workmates who have seen hard-won pay rises automatically flow through to them to start paying their share.

    No one's kidding themselves. The take-up of service fees will not, on their own, reverse the decline in union membership. Indeed in workplaces where less than 50 per cent of workers are members it will have no effect at all.

    But the service fee is a tool to refocus debate and attention on the real benefits of trade unionism: the hard yards in winning pay and conditions - through a combination of industrial work, legal work and grassroots activism.

    Following the Accord era where pay rises seemed to appear magically every 12 months, it is lesson that needs retelling. A large group of the workforce have seen their wages and conditions rise without having to lift a finger. Only now, that the real effects of Reith's deregulation is beginning to filter down is the reality beginning to hit home.

    And as unions attempt to win over a new generation of workers, the question of who pays for the pay rises is a great way to get people thinking about the power of the collective.

    The virulent reaction to the claim shows what a raw nerve it hits. In one corner you have the conservatives, like Tony Abbott, who equates the fees with compulsory unionism which in his world are evil.

    Yet pushed on the issue, Abbott is unable to show how, in his perfect world, unions could legitimately recoup their fee for service. Instead he says this is the way the world is and unions should just cop it sweet. In tough times, this is something more and more unionists are not prepared to do.

    In the other corner we have committed unionists like regular contributor John Passant, who see the user pay fee idea as bureaucratic surrender to capital when real activism would make such a strategy unnecessary.

    But as the workers at Opera Australia are showing, the claim can be a tool for organizing and consolidating active memberships, where a minority rump and refusing to participate in the collective. Far from coercion, it is the debate and persuasion that this claim promotes that carries its real value.

    As Neale Towart points out in his history offering this week, the have been individuals who have always undermined the broader interests of labour. Over the ages their damaging activities have been resisted with a combination of scorn and humour. The service fee is just another weapon in the armoury.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Grace Grace on the Queensland Election Jim Maher's Sports Thoughts Neale Towart's Labour Review Attack of the Killer NIMBY



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