Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 88 Official Organ of LaborNet 16 March 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: Labor Law
Shadow Attorney General Robert McClelland outlines his plans for workers entitlements, legal aid and a Bill of Rights
*  Unions: Poetic Justice
The ACTU kicked off its 2001 Living Wage campaign this week with a new shock tactic: poetry.
*  Technology: Big Brother’s Legacy
Organisations with restrictive staff email polices risk locking themselves in the Industrial Age by treating their staff as units to be monitored.
*  Corporate: Scumbags Exposed
On the eve of the inaugural Corporate Scumbags Tour, we look at the worst of the worst from the Top End of Town.
*  International: Playing Away
Pat Ranald looks at a proposal to hold Australian companies to basic standards when they invest in developing countries.
*  Environment: Nuclear Titanics
The Maritime Union has joined Greenpeace in a campaign to stop our seas becoming a nuclear highway.
*  History: Out of the Bog
Neale Towart looks at the life of big Jim Larkin, one of the heroes of an Irish trade union movement that continues to thrive.
*  Politics: Westie’s Macquarie Street Alert
The Workers MLC, Ian West, provides the first in a series of regular rundowns on the upcoming Parliamentary session
*  Review: The Next American Century?
How will the United States maintain its global power in an era when the very notion of the nation-state is under challenge?
*  Satire: Dollar Crashes Through Psychological 0.00c Barrier
The bedevilled Australian dollar dropped below the crucial 0.00c barrier losing its battle to avoid the humiliation of being worth less than the commemorative Bradman coins distributed by the Sunday Telegraph last weekend.

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The Matraville Picket Holds Strong

Directors Face Criminal Charges Over Super Scam
The owners and directors of a company whose closure has left 41 workers $650,000 out of pocket face criminal charges after it emerged they had failed to deduct private superannuation and child maintenance payments.
[ Full Story » ]

Call Centre Code Picks Up Speed
The drive to establish meaningful standards for the call center industry has had a major boost, with two more state governments supporting the code and a major private sector employer agreeing to a ground-breaking collective agreement.
[ Full Story » ]

Staff Demand Action as Jobless Number Grows
New figures show that more than 600 jobs have been cut from Centrelink's callcentre network over the last nine months, adding further pressure to the growing number of unemployed.
[ Full Story » ]

Lifeguards to Down Togs Over Sweaty Speedo Scam
Lifeguards are being asked to place a conscience ban on Speedo swimwear as anger over the transfer of production from a Sydney factory to undisclosed sweatshops gathers steam.
[ Full Story » ]

Hotel Workers Refuse to Raise Sweat
Hotel workers employed by the Starwood hotel and resort chain want to wear only uniforms made under the FairWear No Sweat Shop label.
[ Full Story » ]

Blood on the Beds at Sleep City
A horrendous accident has left a worker without four fingers and sparked anger about lax safety and the operation of aging equipment in the furniture trades.
[ Full Story » ]

Paint Lock-Out Claims First Victim
The Mirotone paint company this week ratcheted up the dispute with the LHMU over the 35 hour week, when they announced they had retrenched the union’s senior delegate.
[ Full Story » ]

Casino Workers Seek Full Metal Jacket
A national official of the Casino Union has called for the urgent introduction of metal detection devices, warning that a Casino worker could be killed or badly hurt as the current Australian gambling mania grows and spreads uncontrollably.
[ Full Story » ]

Leichhardt Council Endangers the Public
Residents at White Street, Annandle woke up on Tuesday morning to the tune of thumping and banging in their quiet neighbourhood as workers in some form of protective gears began their demolishing job on a vacant house.
[ Full Story » ]

Casual Teachers Break Through
Teachers are this week celebrating a landmark legal victory by 13 casual teachers who were found to have been discriminated against on the grounds of inferior rates of pay.
[ Full Story » ]

Tide Turns on Award-Stripping
Attempts to import the Howard government’s award stripping agenda into the sate IR system have been stymied by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
[ Full Story » ]

Workers Demand Seat on Racing Board
Racing industry workers are demanding a seat on the sport’s governing body to ensure they have some say in how the Sport of Kings will be run in the 21st Century.
[ Full Story » ]

Shangri-La Faces D-Day
Fears of violent scenes, as the Jakarta Shangri-La hotel is re-opened tomorrow, has prompted the hotel unions international to write to the Indonesian President asking him to ensure restraint by both private and state security forces.
[ Full Story » ]

Fiji PM Appointment Illegal
ACTU President Sharan Burrow has urged the international community to maintain and intensify its pressure on the Fijian administration to find a swift and constitutionally valid solution to the country's worsening political and economic crisis.
[ Full Story » ]

Activists Notebook
Support for NZ workers, a Latin festival, action for the ABC and Aceh, musos getting organised and a protest against James Hardie. It's all in the notebook.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Blokey Culture

  • Carr's Indulgence

  • Postcard from Delhi

  • Editorial

    Making a Difference

    It's fashionable these days to run the line: 'all politicians are the same'. Anyone who listens to talkback radio will be familiar with the refrain: a pox on both their houses, they're all in it for themselves, why bother voting at all?

    Events this week expose the shallowness of this analysis. One only needs to look at the picket line that has formed outside Grenadier Coating where some 60 workers have been shown the door owed more than $650,000 in unpaid entitlements.

    On Tuesday, the new workplace relations minister Tony Abbott turned up at the picket - a surprise for the workers until it emerged he was an old drinking buddy of the liquidator.

    On his way through the picket, Abbott took a few minutes to tell the workers that it would be in their best interests to take the pathetic amount they were entitled to under his predecessor's workers entitlement scheme.

    A few hours later NSW Premier Bob Carr turned up, this time at the invitation of the workers. Carr stayed for over an hour as workers briefed him on their situation. He was back the next day, vowing to investigate what the state government could do to hold directors to account.

    The big difference between the two is that while Abbott turned up to tell the workers what to do, the Labor Leader came to listen.

    When delegates from the picket line took their story to the Workers Parliament, the Labor Council, on Thursday night, Beazley's shadow attorney-general, Robert McClelland, was there to listen.

    He then promised a Labor Government would protect 100 per cent of all worker entitlements. This contrasts to the current scheme, a political fix that hurts workers - particularly those who have worked in the one job for a long time.

    It is a recurring theme in a relationship between the industrial and political wings of the labour movement that has endured for more than a century.

    Unions are the engine room, the shop floor where the pressures of the time wreak their human havoc. The ALP wins office to take these issues and do something constructive on behalf of the workers.

    This relationship was also seen in practice this week in the call centre industry. State Labor Governments around the country are moving to give effect to a minimum standards code that will civilise this growing section of the economy.

    Again it's the unions on the ground, identifying the issues as they effect real people, then taking their case to Labor administrations prepared to listen and to act.

    As the Howard Government faces a by-election that many believe will summon its death-knell, working people can begin to look forward to this relationship on the federal stage.

    They, more than any over-paid shock jock, know that a Beazley Labor Government will make a big difference.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    The Case for Public Education Jim Maher on India's Forgotten Hero Paul Howes’ Week on the Web Howard’s End?



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