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Workers Online
  Issue No 90 Official Organ of LaborNet 30 March 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: On the Up and Up
On the eve of new figures showing the slide in union membership may be bottoming out, ACTU secretary Greg Combet takes stock of the state of the movement.
*  Unions: Organising Theory
Labor Council’s Chris Christodoulou reports back from this week’s ACTU Organising Conference
*  Economics: The Failure of the Third Way
In his presentation to this week's ACTU Organising Conference, John Buchanan painted a dark picture of the emerging labour market.
*  History: Emblems of Unity
The Gregory J. Smith Collection of Trade Union badges was auctioned today in Sydney. Smith compiled a book on 763 of his remarkable collection which was published in 1992.
*  Legal: Della's Compo Plan
Labour lawyer Richard Brennan places the NSW workers compensation reforms under the microscope.
*  International: East Timor Goes Union
Workers in the fledgling nation have established their equivalent to the ACTU to build a safety net for workers.
*  Satire: Management for the Post-Industrial World
A new management fad is sweeping the post-industrial world, which has major social and political implications at the macro and micro level. We have called it "Purge Management Strategy" (PMS).
*  Review: Surviving The Temptations of TV Island
Cultural analyst Mark Morey rakes over the coals of American TV culture to find very little is there.

On the Up and Up: Greg Combet

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Standing up for his mates: Pat Portlock

Compo Wars: Round One to the Workers
The Carr Government has abandoned its plans to ram workers compensation laws through State Parliament before Easter but faces a concerted campaign spearheaded by injured workers over the coming weeks.
[ Full Story » ]

Breakthrough on Sweat-Shops
Textile workers are claiming a ‘world first’ in securing legislation in NSW forcing clothing manufactures to take responsibility for their chain of production.
[ Full Story » ]

Beazley to Force Executive Disclosure
The Beazley Opposition has announced it will move to tighten laws governing corporate governance, which would include the disclosure of Directors salaries.
[ Full Story » ]

Call Centre Union Busters Get Wake-Up Call
Call centre employers this week paid three times the average weekly wage of one of their workers to hear how to get rid of unions and keep wages low.
[ Full Story » ]

Victorious Workers Paint the Picket Red
Mirotone paintworkers are today celebrating a clear victory for decent working hours, and union delegates rights.
[ Full Story » ]

Grenadier Workers Maintain Vigil
There hasn’t been much cause to celebrate in recent weeks, but Grenadier Coatings workers will have a party this Saturday young Brayden Groves celebrates his first birthday on the picket line.
[ Full Story » ]

Kembla Water Rats Face Extinction
Concerns are growing that the NSW Water Police is downgrading its Illawarra presence, replacing its ocean going vessel with a runabout.
[ Full Story » ]

Employers Told: Casual Workers Have Full-Time Rights
A decision by the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales has placed all employers on notice that casual workers have full-time rights and will not be exempt from seeking unfair dismissal.
[ Full Story » ]

Good On Ya Mum, Buttercup’s Leaving Town
A community and union backed consumer boycott of the Buttercup bakery in the Newcastle area has started to bite.
[ Full Story » ]

Forty Seven Years of Service Rewarded
A 63-year-old Melbourne woman's battle for a future in the workforce has been boosted by a Federal Court ruling against Telstra.
[ Full Story » ]

Telstra Called to Account on Legionella
The latest outbreak of legionella in downtown Melbourne has brought union demands for Australia's biggest company to come clean on its health and safety spending.
[ Full Story » ]

Record Low Aussie Dollar Adds to Surging Profits
Steaming coal producers have won a 20% increase in coal export prices with the Japanese, further boosting the Australian coal industry’s profit surge.
[ Full Story » ]

No Progress on Stonemasons
A meeting this week between Labor Council, the CFMEU and management of the Sri Venkateswara Temple Association broke up without any result for the eight stonemasons.
[ Full Story » ]

Burrow Lobbies on BHP and US Trade Abroad
ACTU President Sharan Burrow is abroad this week, with important talks on the BHP merger and the proposed US-Australia trade agreement.
[ Full Story » ]

Feed the Shangri-La Workers Fund
Unions and their supporters, from around the world, are being asked to donate money to help feed striking Shangri-La hotel workers in Jakarta, Indonesia.
[ Full Story » ]

STOP PRESS: Union Numbers Up - ABS
ABS data released today shows that the number of union members in Australia has increased for the first time in over a decade.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • Crumby Company

  • Editorial

    The American Way

    As the dominant nation-state of the 20th century, the United States of America has an influence that permeates nearly every section of life in a global outpost like Australia.

    Much of it is positive, a popular culture industry that has delivered products as diverse and stimulating as Michael Moore, the West Wing, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

    But there are as many offerings that, while suited to the American culture, make unwelcome intrusions in our lives: Rikki Lake, basketball and Survivor II come immediately to mind.

    US medical assessments are another example of an unwanted American import. The Carr Government shipped them in for motor accident victims and is now seeking to spread them to workers compensation.

    The problem is the assessments treat people as machines, breaking the body into defined parts and presuming that each does not effect the whole. Thus, when you lose a leg, your arms and body are still perfectly fine.

    This logic is convenient for cutting back the level of compensation claims, but less effective if the objective is to protect injured workers. Add Medical panels with no right of legal appeal and you have a system loaded against the worker.

    This is just one of the elements of a cost-saving package dumped on the NSW union movement this week. We will now be campaigning to point out its unfairness before the legislation is debated. As the say Stateside, it should be a 'humdinger'.

    Another American influence on the trade union movement is the 'Organising Model', which was the centerpiece of a two-day conference at Sydney University this week.

    It was an important event, highlighting the good work being done on the ground in many unions and also placing the organizing model, which has been placed by some on a pedestal, into some sort of context.

    As ACTU secretary Greg Combet said, organizing is not a movement, it is not a religious cult, it is a reorientation for trade union organization. For mine, it is a shift from top down to bottom up unionism, which is totally consistent with organizational change in many other facets of society.

    The problem with turning 'organising' into a doctrine is that it becomes something that can be used for all sorts of reasons. Like all pure ideologies it can easily become a vehicle for ambitious individuals, becoming a convenient justification for personal ambition. This is starting to happen in the union movement and, as Combet recognisies, is nothing more than politics.

    The risk, though, is that if we are not careful, 'organsing' could become another good idea that is spun so hard it ends up devoid of all meaning. How very tragic - and Amercian - that would be.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
    Soapbox lockerroom trades hall Toolshed
    Jim Maher on the Bastard Banks Hoppa Gives League the Finger Paul Howes’ Week on the Web Heart of Stone



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