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November 2002   

Interview: Life After Keating
Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd looks at the world and wonders what might have been ...

Industrial: That Friday Feeling
Anthony Stavropoulos has been working six days a week for the last eight years and now he wants his weekends back. �Remember that Friday feeling?� he asks. �You just don�t get that anymore.�

Bad Boss: Begging to Work
They may put themselves about as the Saints of the Fourth Estate, but bosses at the Big Issue Magazine have been nominated by their own vendors for this month�s Tony award.

Organising: Project Pilbara
Sydney University�s Bradon Ellem reports on how unions are bouncing back in Rio territory

Unions: Off the Rails
The Federal Government is attempting to turn NSW Railways into a political football with a proposal that threatens the safety of freight and passenger trains in NSW and life in our rail Towns, writes Phil Doyle.

International: Brazil Turns Left
Union stalwarts throughout the American hemisphere are cheering the election of Lula � the peanut seller and shoeshine boy, turned union leader - who has been elected as the first working-class President of Brazil.

Environment: Brown Wash
Stuart Rosewarn argues the Johannesburg Sunmmit was a gripping showcase of Australia�s lack of a strategic vision.

History Special: Learning from the Past
Ray Markey looks at union membership growth in the 1880s & 1900s to argue that today�s unions must engage to grow.

Corporate: Will the Bullying Backfire?
Job insecurity, unemployment, a growing gap between rich and poor, massive global poverty and environmental danger are the big issues for the protests at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Sydney.

Technology: Danger Lurks For The Passive
If unions fail to exploit opportunities on the web to gain members, other organisations are likely to fill the void and provide services to workers on the internet.

History: In Labour�s Image
Neale Towart looks at a long-overdue initiative to around NSW through the eyes of the workers.

Politics: Without Power Or Glory
South Coast contributor Rowan Cahill gives his take on the Cunningham by-election result.

History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Barbara Webster looks at Rockhampton between 1916 � 1957 to debunk the �dependence� theory of trade union growth.

Culture: Blood Stains the Wattle
Former Queensland Treasurer Keith De Lacey has turned up in print with a rollicking tale of life during the famous Mt Isa strike of the 60s.

Satire: Iraq Pre-empts Pre-emptive Strike
Saddam Hussein has launched a pre-emptive strike on the United States to prevent it from pre-emptively striking Iraq first.

Poetry: The Executive Pay Cut
Executives accepting pay freezes, or even pay cuts? This outrageous proposal has been put on the table by some capitalists themselves, and taken up by our bard.

Review: Time Out
When a family man invents a new life after losing his steady job, Tara de Boehmler watches his charade escalate until there is no turning back.


Month In Review
War and Pieces of Work
The Bali Tragedy dominated the news this month, leaving many questioning the motive and wondering if this is fallout from Australia�s unquestioning support of George Dubya�s �War On Terror�.

The Soapbox
Beware of Greeks Bearing Historical Allusions
Roland Stephens argues that the current popular line that the USA is a modern day version of the Roman Empire is flawed.

The Locker Room
Over The Fence Is Out
Phil Doyle warms up for another season of hard hitting and fast bowling in the park, making the rules up as he goes along.

The Sea of Hands
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation are five years old. Spokeswoman Dameeli Coates addressed labor Council to mark the event.

Tokyo Youth Call
Tokyo unions are relying on young organisers to infiltrate workplaces as part of a major organising campaign, which focuses on non-unionised companies, reports Mary Yaager.

Still Crazy After All These Years
With new research suggests CEO carry similar personality traits to psycho-paths, the AGM season is proving that there�s little room for logic in our nation�s board rooms.


Why The User Should Pay
Unions have often been the victims of the user-pays ethos � the pointy end of the assault on the State by the Top End of Town that has left our public sector looking like the poor relation to the corporates.


 Bargaining Fees In the Dock

 Deadly �Slave Labour� Racket Exposed

 Zoo Workers Buck Indecent Proposal

 Cabinet Takes Stick To Abbott's Carrot

 Cyber Action Behind Hilton Win

 Aussies Back On Board

 City Workers To Help Country Cousins

 Sour Taste for Wine Workers

 Government Grounds Ansett Levy

 TAB Workers Winners as Cup Strike Averted

 Aussie Post Gets Mail On Sick Leave

 Council Backs Community Radio Venture

 First Steps to Compo Clean-Up

 Workers Out! Conference Opens In Sydney

 Aussie Union Rep Power, Yes Please: TUC

 New Burma Shame File

 Activists Notebook

 Trashing the Siren Theory
 More Bali Feed Back
 Clean Election Laws Now!
 And Now, Some Fan Mail!
 Policy Vacuum
 Tom's Postscript
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Brazil Turns Left

Union stalwarts throughout the American hemisphere are cheering the election of Lula � the peanut seller and shoeshine boy, turned union leader - who has been elected as the first working-class President of Brazil.

Lula, in the job of President of the largest economy in Latin America, is seen as a potentially important ally for working people battling the ravaging effects of globalisation.

Certainly the huge manufacturing unions worldwide, allied to the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), were cheering on his election because Lula had been the leader of the Metalworkers Union in Brazil and because they feel he understands the anger and frustration of all manufacturing workers hit by globalisation.

They - like many others - see him as a left, progressive hero around whose banner people can gather to transform the balance of power in one of the poorest regions of the world.

Elected leader of the Metal Workers Union in 1975 Lula is credited with transforming a former moribund government-controlled union movement into a powerful independent voice for working class people.

Creating the Workers' Party

Five years later Lula played a key role in bringing together the newly empowered unions, church activists, intellectuals and Trotskyites to establish a radical socialist party called the Workers' Party (PT).

However since then the Workers' Party's revolutionary commitments have gradually evolved into a more pragmatic, populist, social democratic political grouping eager to claim political power for itself.

It is the compromises that he has had to make - and will still have to make after he is sworn in as President in January - that will test whether he can maintain the hero status that he still has among Brazil's poor - and among progressive intellectuals in his country and abroad.

Many are hoping that this election gives heart , or even signals a swing back, to left, democratic, progressive groups throughout the region ready to do battle with the free-marketeers and globalizers.

International Support

The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Union ( ICEM) certainly timed the holding of a key conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, so they could be in the country to take part in celebrating the election of this working class leader.

"This is an extraordinary moment for working people in Brazil and throughout the Americas," said Lawrence McBrearty, the Canadian National Director of the Steelworkers' Union who was in Brazil for the ICEM meeting.

"In Brazil at least, voters are beginning to see that there is another path other than the relentless globalisation agenda promoted by politicians who follow uncritically in the footsteps of the US and the Bush Administration.

"Critics who portray Lula as some kind of wild-eyed peasant revolutionary do not understand the nature of social democracy, which is Lula's political framework, just as it is the framework of Canada's own New Democratic Party," McBrearty said. "Lula's victory signals a resurgence of the left. My sincere hope is that Brazil is only a start."

The hotel workers' union international the IUF has also welcomed the election of Lula but has called on unions' around the world to be vigilant in protecting this new government from conservative reaction.

" Unions can contribute to the Workers Party victory in Brazil by actively monitoring national and international policy towards the new government - in the first instance trade and financial policy - to help give it the room and the resources it needs," the IUF said in a statement.

Conservative Reaction

Certainly Lula needs to be concerned about how Bush and his conservative mates will react to his election.

Already one right-wing Republican has written in the most extraordinary terms to President Bush warning of a new "axis of evil" comprising of Brazil's Lula, Venezuela's Chavez and Cuba's Castro.

Republican Congressman Henry Hyde wrote to Bush talking of the 'triumvirate of evil' that Lula will help to create, and claiming that the new Brazilian leader will openly support hemispheric terrorist organizations.

And George Bush's trade representative Robert Zoellick has issued a not very diplomatic threat saying that Brazil's new leadership must choose between trade under the US-sponsored Free Trade umbrellas in the hemisphere or trading with Antarctica.

First Speech to his Voters

In his first formal speech as Brazil's president-elect - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ( to give him his full formal name) - addressed the country's poor, saying his priority was to combat hunger and unemployment.

Sixty per cent of the nation lives on or near the poverty line so the former trade union leader sought to reassure his supporters that he was committed to social reform.

Lula said his first priorities would be to combat hunger and create jobs, changing what he described as an unjust system that excludes large portions of society.

Announcing the creation of a Poverty Secretariat in his first speech as the newly-elected president he said he would have felt he had fulfilled his mission if, by the end of his term, each Brazilian would be able to have at least three proper meals a day.

Participatory Control

The Workers Party has achieved world-wide fame for having introduced "participatory" budgeting" in the left-controlled city of Porto Alegre.

Even cynics have recanted acknowledging the participatory democratic control that the Workers Party has delivered, though this process, to people who were normally marginalised in Brazilian society.

This process has seen the municipal budget submitted to open and public scrutiny in meetings held at local district levels of Port Alegre and democratic decision-making processes deciding where and when the Budget will be spent.


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