|Issue No 94||04 May 2001|
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Workers Seek Security on Back of Living Wage
Temple Workers Return to India Victorious
Unions Get Down to Workers Comp Talks
Firefighters Hand Hoses To Politicians
Unions Back Corruption Fight
'Workers Bank' Protest Rally Backs Cleaners
Smoking Decision Sparks Call for Pub Bans
Boycott Trade, Travel with Burma
Qantas Takeover No Impulse Buy
Sick Chicks Win Privacy Rights
Arnotts Workers Seek More than Crumbs
Jageth Backs Jakarta Hotel Workers
Equity Members Send a Dear John Letter
New Theatre Under Threat
A Toast to May Day
The Workers United?
For generations May Day has been the focus for workers of the world to unite - yet in 2001 the foundations of this tradition are under challenge.
Around the world, activists took the street under the banner of M1, usurping the labour movement's traditional day to run their own street crusade. Their common cause? Opposition to 'Globalisation'.
It's a common lament from both the extreme Left and extreme Right - Globalisation is out of control and must be stopped. The M1 protests outside stock exchanges were aimed to symbolize this - although the Nike sneakers worn by some of the students dragged into police cars could have been just as poignant.
The problem for both M1 and One Nation is that their message is far too simple - and when you look at it it's a ridiculous proposition - we are against the world being looked at as the one entity rather than a series of nation-states historically dominated (even in democracies) by their own ruling elite classes.
I think the problem has become the language - Globalisation has ceased to mean anything. Let's get more specific about what we are we talking about. What is good about the process? What is bad? How can use the good elements to fight the bad? How do we get more people to join in?
I've actually begun describing myself as an 'anti-anti-Globalisationist'. It's not that I endorse unfettered corporate power turning people into economic abstractions. It's just that I'm not convinced that resisting change is the most constructive response.
I find it far more interesting to engage with some of the changes driving Globalisation - such as network technologies - to play a small part in driving an agenda that will contain corporate excess and give people a voice in the process.
This is where I hope M1 and organized labour can at some stage reconcile - using the tools that globalisation has delivered to take action that is more meaningful than linking arms, singing 'we shall not be moved' and repelling the mainstream of society with the violent scenes that have been so carefully choreograph.
Workers of the world have always tried to unite. Today their chances of doing so effectively have never been greater. Each morning I check out Labourstart to find out what's happening around the world - sometimes a Workers Online story is posted there to let others know what we're up to. It's a start.
Likewise, as John Maitland describes, unions can actually use the financial system to hold corporates to some sort of account - all the while recognizing that global rules like core labour standards are required to give all workers fair deal.
Elsewhere in this issue, we look at ACTU pressure on Australian companies doing business in Burma, pressure to lift the blockade on Cuban workers and the practical steps local journalists are making to assist a free press in Indonesia.
The ultimate global protest is to start backing our convictions with meaningful actions - as voters, as citizens and as consumers - who can seek the information about the stories behind the labels we buy. The tools are in our hands - and they are there as a product of Globalisation.
|Bob Ellis' May Day Toast||Yoga: Our New National Sport||Paul Howes’ Week on the Web||Shane Stone – Soft Touch|
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