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December 2002   

Interview: Trade Secrets
Federal Labor’s trade spokesman Craig Emerson is on a mission to bring the shady world of trade talks into the open

Industrial: It’s About Overtime, Stupid
An overtime free-for-all is at the heart of Australia’s hours explosion and it's time to look at a cap on hours, reports Noel Hester from the ACTU’s Working Hours Summit.

Unions: Full Steam Ahead
After two weeks of rallies around the state, rural Rail Towns are making a stand for jobs and safety. Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: The BBQ Battle Axe
Manly restaurateur, David Diamond, is a shoo-in for this month’s Bad Boss nomination, leaving Workers Online looking for a good employer who can undo some of his damage.

Economics: Different Dimensions of Debt
Professor Frank Stilwell presented the big picture on debt policy at the Evatt Foundation’s Breakfast Seminar

History: Raking the Coals
Labour historians Rae Cooper and Greg Patmore explain why today’s organisers have much to learn from the lessons of the past.

History Special: Wherever the Necessity Exists
Rae Cooper tracks NSW union organising between 1900-1910 to argue that today’s activists should be looking closer to home for inspiration

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.

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

Politics: Regime Change for Saddam
Labour lawyer Jim Nolan looks at the challenge for the Left in the current geopolitical stand-off in the Middle East.

International: World War
Europe has suddenly come aflame with industrial action, Andrew Casey reports.

Corporate: Industrious Thinking
Neale Towart looks at the influence of German immigration on Australian industry policy in the post-war period.

Review: Jack High
Mick Molloy’s new flick Crackerjack tells the tale of a traditional bowling club struggling to stay afloat in an industry dominated by pokies, pokies and more pokies, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Culture: Duffy’s Song
Former Labor Council official Mark Duffy’s Sydney super band Sundial clocks in a bit of a corker.

Satire: A Nation of Sooks
The Strewth Institute's Tony Moore looks at the spate of defo suits and wonders if Australia has gone soft.

Poetry: Mr Flexibility
One of the key challenges facing unions, as the ACTU celebrates its 75th anniversary, is confronting the problems of increasing working hours and work intensity under the guise of "flexibility". Our resident bard, David Peetz, takes up that theme this week.


The Soapbox
Economic Migrants
A man - a worker - risks death by machine gun to escape what he is told is a 'workers' state'. He flees East Berlin through a tunnel, dug beneath a cemetery.

And the Winner Is …
It’s that time of the year when we honour the best. In the past week, both the IR Writers fraternity and ACTU have got in the act with more to come.

The Locker Room
More Post-Colonial Madness
Phil Doyle joins the fools and Englishmen out in the midday sun, and finds that it all comes at a price.

Call Waiting
The Howard Government backs off its plans to privatise the rest of Telstra under market pressure. But it’s nothing like the pressure that former HIH directors are under.

Month In Review
Way Down
As Elvis might have said, if he had had a longer-term perspective “ooh, what a month it was, it really was such a month …”


Lessons from History
History has a seemingly infinite capacity to create and debunk myths, as the latest offering from the Journal of Labour and Social History shows.


 And On the Seventh Day – Satan Joins Union

 Security Masks Political Bans

 Members Offered Spotters' Fee

 Casuals Written Out of the Script

 New Mining Bully On the Block

 ACTU Examines The Cap Option On Hours

 No Sweetener for Diabetic Workers

 Pressure Goes on Apartheid Employers

 ASIC Turns Blind Eye on Dodgy Boss

 Family Test Case a Priority Campaign

 Echoes of Prestige Hit Home

 Brutal Bashing Sparks Prison Strike

 Minister Challenged by Cleaners

 ABC Journos Off The Air

 Union Says RSCPA "Kills"...

 Guards Demand Campus Security

 Uni Backs Down On Regional Review

 Peace Returns to US Docks

 Activists Notebook

 Oh Bugger Me!
 State Based Organising
 Gino on the Gong
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And the Winner Is …

It’s that time of the year when we honour the best. In the past week, both the IR Writers fraternity and ACTU have got in the act with more to come.

Hacks Night Out

The annual IR Writers Dinner honours the tenuous and dodgy from the round that most liken to a career cul-de-sac. A testimony to SMH stalwart Brad Norington's love of a theme night, this year writers were invited to rescue Simon Crean. AWU national secretary Billy Bob Shorten moved a moving welcome toast to patron Tony Abbott, drawing on their common Jesuit heritage and support for the rhythm method.

The big awards were handed out in the following categories:

- Golden Thong - fashion on the round to Workforce's Tracy Ong whose committed vote rorting wrestled the trophy away from a latex clad Stephen Long, latest of ABC.

- The Sour Lemon for spin-doctoring to the AWU's Andrea 'Kit' Carson for keeping up with her energetic boss.

- Best New Talent went to the oft-mispronounced Sherrill Nixon from the SMH.

- The Golden Egg-Beater to Natalie Davison for the acclaimed 'Gorillas in the Fist' story, the first ever yarn to commence with the words 'masturbating gorillas'.

- And the White Gollywog Award for contribution to the IR round going to the last surviving reporter, Brad Norington.


Meanwhile, the ACTU has handed out its annual awards for the year, coinciding with its 75th Anniversary.

The competition for victory was ferocious in the lead-up to this year's annual Union Awards.

"The judges have had such a hard time picking winners from the outstanding shortlists that we've even awarded a joint prize this year," explained ACTU President Sharan Burrow at the award presentations during the ACTU's 75th anniversary Executive dinner in Melbourne on Tuesday night (November 26).

The Queensland Nurses took out the prize in the coveted Best Workplace Campaign category for their Worth Looking After campaign. The campaign featured massive and sustained media coverage, the collection 60,000 signatures on public petitions, a day of action with 10,000 nurses walking off the job, a CD and video release that received airplay on TV and radio and 1,500 new members signed up.

The runners-up in the Best Workplace Campaign category were:

· SA LHMU - McGuigan's Wines campaign.

· Victorian CFMEU & AEU - Breakfast in Schools campaign.

· QIEU - Superannuation campaign.

The NSW Teachers Federation took out the hotly contested Best Communications Strategy award for its Vinson Inquiry into Public Education. In partnership with the Federation of Parents and Citizens Association, the Federation ran a half-million dollar Royal Commission style Inquiry that generated unprecedented public and media debate involving visits to 150 schools and more than 700 public submissions on public education policy in NSW.

Runners-up for the Best Communications Strategy prize were:

· LHMU - for the Sydney Hilton Hotel campaign.

· AWU for the Superannuation for Jockeys campaign.

Delegate of the Year award went to the LHMU ACT's Super Six Childcare Campaign Team, led by childcare worker Lynda Stubbs. This team mobilised childcare workers, parents and politicians throughout the ACT over 18 months in their fight to improve wages and build union numbers. The tightly organised campaign targeted the Commission, politicians, the community and their workers. A survey on a new classification structure, workforce mapping, activist identification and support, and a parents rally helped lead to an inquiry by the ACT Government into the shortage of childcare services.

Runners up in the Delegate of the Year category were:

· Graeme Prosser - CPSU delegate Teletech Call Centre, Moe.

· Ross Kumeroa TWU convenor at BHP Iron Ore, Newman, WA.

· Diane Allen, FSU delegate at Westpac's main call centre in NSW.

· Garry Fairman FSU delegate at the NAB in Northampton, WA.

The Jennie George Award for contributions to the advancement of women in unions was jointly awarded to the FSU WA branch and the AMWU Victorian Vehicle Division:

The FSU WA branch has developed a strong culture of mentoring women at all levels. The branch has a female secretary, 3 out of 4 organisers are women along with both branch vice-presidents and 70% of the branch committee are female. The branch runs maternity leave seminars for new mothers to talk about their rights, as well as seminars for women working part-time, so they don't lose touch with the union.

The AMWU Vic vehicle division has achieved Paid maternity leave for 80% of female members, equal access to the highest average shopfloor wages in manufacturing, a Division Women's Committee which meets bi-monthly and has been running for 13 years and the highest participation rate in the Anna Stewart memorial project. The division has introduced deputy shop stewards position to promote women members. Three out of eight State Council positions are held by women and the regional secretary Gayle Tierney has been in the job since 1993.

Gail Drummond from the CPSU Communications Section won the Organiser of the Year Award. Gail has had a monumental battle on her hands to persuade call centre workers in the Moe Teletech Centre to over come their fears and join the union. At Teletech there is no right of entry and all the workers, from the depressed Latrobe Valley region, are on AWAs and the management is virulently anti-union. In March Gail, stood out on the Teletech driveway handing out pamphlets and talking to the workers. Security routinely moved her back onto the road. High security fences were erected to keep her off the site. Eventually she was allowed in to investigate a suspected breach and in a matter of days membership increased from 6 to 30. Since then, still without right of entry, the numbers have shot up to 70.

Runners up for Organiser of the Year were Joanne Kowalczyk, NTEU University of Wollongong branch and Don Freudenstein.

Finally, the Media Quote of the Year award went to Greg Combet from the following entries:

"One untold consequence of Australia's economic success is that people are too tired for sex. Perhaps this is part of John Howard's master social plan, the third term agenda we're all looking for."

Greg Combet, ACTU Secretary, at the National Press Club, Canberra

"If we're honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband - not withstanding all of his faults you find he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he's employing someone while he is in fact a boss."

Tony Abbott, Workplace Relations Minister, to a Workforce Conference, Sydney

"If Royal Commission members are staying in a Sydney hotel tonight they would do well to look under their beds because the CFMEU has friends everywhere."

LHMU NSW Secretary Annie Owens, quote of the week, WorkersOnLine

"Fox and Lew have shown their marshmallow balls and we're going to toast them."

ACTU Industrial Officer Richard Watts in the wash-up of Tesna's bid for Ansett,

"I felt like Osama bid Laden at the White House."

AMWU National Secretary Doug Cameron after talks with the Federal Government on industry development at Parliament House Canberra

"This government really sings a lullaby of hate against refugees, the unemployed, republicans, single mothers, unions, indigenous people. At the end of each verse you have to ask yourself: who's next."

Sharan Burrow, ACTU President, in February at a Refugee Rally in Canberra

It's our party. The parents don't leave just because the kids are misbehaving."

AWU National Secretary Bill Shorten on the union-ALP relationship


Still to Come

The Labor Council will announce its Organiser of the Year award at its Annual Dinner on December 20.

Also, up for grabs is the Tony Award for Australia's Worst Boss - nominations at - it too will be announced on December 20.

Meanwhile Workers Online is keen for readers' nominations in any or all of the following categories, with winners announced in our year-ender issue.

- Best Story

- Best Victory

- Biggest Tool

- Best Column published

Send your nominations to mailto:[email protected]


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