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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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Will the Bullying Backfire?

By Peter Murphy - RTBU National Research / Publicity Officer

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.


A broad network of 57 unions, churches, human rights and environment groups are holding two major events - a seminar on Sunday November 10, from 10 am at the tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills; and a peaceful rally at Hyde Park Fountain, from noon on Thursday November 14. For more information -

The Howard government is hosting the WTO 'mini-ministerial' on November 14-15 at the Olympic site at Homebush, to earn more brownie points in the global free trade stakes. The WTO Secretariat is putting on the meeting - of just 25 countries - because it is running scared that its expanded agenda will flop in Mexico next September.

Those are two good reasons why there should be protests and objections at all levels of Australian society about what the WTO is doing. Public rejection of the WTO agenda is crucial in the effort to create a fairer, safer world and a better Australia.

The Howard government's goal in the WTO is to sell more Australian agricultural products in the US, European and Japanese markets. To do so, it is willing to trade off whole industries, and to privatise basic public services like education, hospitals, public housing, postal, water and welfare services - let alone the rest of Telstra. This crazy strategy can only be a disaster for the Australian people, and must be challenged.

Second, the WTO Secretariat scraped through its last main meeting in Doha, Qatar, by making some important but minor concessions to developing countries, in return for a promise from them to consider a much wider liberalisation at the Mexico meeting in September 2003. Everyone was supposed to "discuss" the proposed new agreements in the run up to Mexico.

However, these preliminary discussions have been dragging, and instead, in May this year, the developing countries put forward a list of modest proposals to reform the WTO itself, to give them a fairer chance in formal negotiations. For instance, they asked that draft texts be provided in advance of meetings at which they must be adopted, late night marathon sessions must no longer take place, and that the WTO Secretariat stop selective consultations and instead involve all members in all consultations. Instead of responding positively, the WTO Secretariat simply replied that these democratising proposals were unacceptable.

All the while, the US economy has been staggering into recession, and the global financial markets have been whacked by the crash of April 2000 and the 30 per cent slide in stock market prices since then. This has meant serious economic recessions in all those developing countries which have been set up as exporters of cheap raw materials and lightly processed products into the US market.

In short, the great global free market has failed most WTO members, and the governments of these countries - conservative as most of them are - cannot go further down the free trade road that is being mapped out for them.

Even the liberalisation of agriculture so far has hurt the developing countries, and Indonesia for one is now openly rejecting any further liberalisation in agricultural trade.

This conflict between the "quad" countries (USA, Canada, EU and Japan) and the developing countries is enough to derail the Mexico WTO Ministerial and really plunge the entire corporate globalisation project over the cliff.

And that's not the only problem - the EU, Japan and the USA cannot agree on Agriculture, investment and environmental issues, and are themselves caught up in the global economic slowdown. Japan has had a decade of recession that will get worse, and Europe is struggling with slow growth and high unemployment.

Hence the Sydney "mini-ministerial" - an effort by the "quad" to bully selected developing countries into line, to somehow paper over the yawning cracks in their precious free market theories.

This is another expression of the authoritarian character of the WTO and the corporate global order. If we believe in democracy, we have to challenge and reject the very process being operated in the WTO.

The expanded WTO agenda to be rammed down the throats of some governments at Homebush on November 14-15 - on investment, government purchasing and competition policy - will mean more privatisation, and less democratic rights for citizens to make decisions about their basic social services and environment, and the direction of their societies.

The WTO formula has already done enough damage. Its promoters are already shaky. Vigorous protest, based on values of democracy, inclusiveness, justice and environmental sustainability, can defeat them, and create a better world.


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