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February 2003   

Interview: Agenda 2003
ACTU secretary Greg Combet looks at the year ahead and how a union movement can keep the focus on the workplace at a time of global crisis.

Peace: The Colour Purple
Local communities across Australia are taking stands against war by displaying purple banners. Jim Marr visits one.

Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
As Workers Online took its annual break, the world kept turning � at an increasingly alarming velocity.

Solidarity: Workers Against War
Joann Wypijewski reports on how union locals in the USA are fighting the hounds of war at home.

Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
With all the talk of terror, the Howard Government�s Achilles heel is its tolerance of Flags of Convenience shipping , writes Rowan Cahill

International: Industrial Warfare
Scottish freight train drivers have already acted to disrupt the war effort in the UK with crews of four freight trains carrying war supplies to ports walking off the job, writes Andrew Casey

History: Unions and the Vietnam War
The Vietnam experience steered some unions towards social activism for the first time. Unions are today key players in the anti-war movement, writes Tony Duras.

Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Mark Hebblewhites looks at two summer movies that tap into different sounds of American culture - white boy rap and motown blues.

Poetry: Return To Sender
Resident bard Divd Peetz discovers that Elvis has become the latest shock recruit to the peace cause.

Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
CIA Director George Tenet announced today that the agency has begun recruiting future enemies for the year 2014.


The Soapbox
Getting On with The Job
Premier Bob Carr chose Trades Hall as the venue to launch Labor's IR policy for the upcoming state election.

Justice in Bogota
Sydney lawyer Ian Latham knows how to pick them. He�s gone straight from the Cole Royal Commission to justice Colombian-style.

The Locker Room
Heart Of Darkness
There is a school of thought that there is, in fact, only one World Cup - and it doesn�t involve cricket, writes Phil Doyle.

Danger Mouse
John Howard's politics have trapped him into supporting an unpopular war. He is in political trouble, Leonie Bronstein argues.


A Call To Arms
Workers Online returns from our summer break to face a world on the brink, the structures of global cooperation being crushed by the iron will of the earth�s last remaining superpower.


 The Cuffe Link � Taxpayers Cough Up

 Carr: Secret Lib Plan to Slash Public Sector

 Abbott Comes Out Swinging

 Thanks a Million: Cole�s Lawyers Clean-up

 Corrigan Dogs On Jobs Promise

 Gnomes Fess Up � Unionism Best For All

 Owens Survives 30-Year Ban

 Ribs and Rumps Something for Government to Chew On

 Badges of Honour

 Guards Rail Against Assaults

 Workers Online Scoops Global Prize

 Currawong Must Pay It�s Way

 Let�s Get Real! 2nd Australasian Organising Conference

 Guard Knocked Out in Villawood Escape

 Activists Notebook

 Bouquets and Brickbats
 War Talk
 A Tale of Two Malls
 Talk Back Tom
 On The Beach
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The Colour Purple

Local communities across Australia are taking stands against war by displaying purple banners. Jim Marr visits one.


A white dove flutters above houses sporting ribbons, banners, streamers and rosettes in the purple of the peace movement. Welcome to Oxford St, inner-city Newtown, one of hundreds of localities where ordinary citizens are giving practical effect to the "act local, think global" theory of modern protest.

The Newtown action started with one woman, school teacher Pru. Disgusted by her country's active support for George Bush's war on Iraq, she ran off a leaftlet inviting neighbours to a weekend barbecue in a small park at the end of her street.

She already had neighbours, Robert and Fiona on board. Together the school teacher, tv producer and registered nurse, set about sounding out others in the street. About 25 attended the get-together and, over a few drinks, talked about how they could show their opposition to the looming war.

Neighbours decided to decorate their houses, string up a dove, and this weekend, will gather together and march to the Hyde Park rally, in central Sydney, behind their Newtown Neighbours banners.

Organisers report enthusiastic support for their grassroots campaign from residents of nearby St Marys and Baltic Streets, both of which now boast homes in the purple.

The Newtown action is just one of hundreds undertaken by ordinary citizens who refuse to be cowed by the orchestrated campaign of sneering and denigration being run by Miranda Devine, Piers Ackerman and other well-paid mouthpieces for militarism.

Workplaces, church groups, political parties, trade unions, women's organisations, artists and professional groups have taken stands alongside individuals from all walks of life, whose purple ribbons can be seen every day on buses and trains.

As always, with peace issues, women are at the fore.

And how?

Their organised responses have been wildly diverse, from the silent, veiled protests, staged every week outside Sydney Town Hall to the 750 women of all ages, shapes and sizes who got their gear off on the hills outside Byron Bay.

The weekly Women in Black protests, organised by a group whose roots grew out of Jerusalem in the 1980s, suggest solidarity with their Islamic sisters, while the Byron Bay action would likely be interpreted as decidely non-Islamic.

The latter event, of course, scooped the headlines and drew photographers to the NSW north coast where women used their bodies to spell out "No War" against a lush, green backdrop.

Organiser, jazz singer-songwriter Grace Knight, said a targeted email campaign had aimed to get 67 women, the number necessary to spell out the message. Seven hundred and fifty turned up turned up at the secret marshalling point in Federal and were bussed to the scene of the action.

Knight, formerly lead singer with 80s band Eurogliders, told the Sydney Morning Herald the women hadn't been comfortable with the nude element of their protest but "if it takes lying naked in a paddock to get the message across so be it".

Knight isn't the only entertainer lending her talent to the anti-war movement. Actor Judy Davis has been a headline act at rallies where singers like Jenny Morris and Leonardo's Bride have performed.

Geoff Morrell, aka the Mayor of Arcadia Waters, has been prominent in the a movement which has also drawn public support from the likes of Jane Campion, Toni Collette and Reg Mombassa..

Theatre Group Hoi Barberoi are staging Euripi des' Women of Troy at Sydney's Belvoir St Theatre in the words of director, Robert Kennedy, as a warning.

"We as a community are mistaken if we think that such naivety can protect us from complicity and guilt in the bloody devastation that will follow large scale military action," he writes in some fairly unambiguous director's notes.

But it has, perhaps, been the large-scale mobilisation of ordinary Aussies who don't have either name recognition or access to the media that has marked this campaign.

People in Terrigal have staged regular silent vigils on their popular beach while just last week more than 5000 marched through Wollongong. Three thousand rallied at Coffs Harbour, while residents of Parramatta, Leichhardt and Blacktown have staged rallies and/or peace picnics.

Just this week, some enterprising professional-types in Kempsey staged a Brown Nose Day in recognition of the Prime Minister's special relationship with the US president.

Pockets of Purple have taken root in locations as diverse Foster, Adelaide, upmarket Mossman on Sydney's northern beaches, and Stanmore's Greek Cypriot Club.

Greeks, Moslems and, significantly, Vietnamese have become involved in the coalition against the war under the banners of their communities, joining a range of groups from various South American countries.

This Sunday, they will come together. Ferals, anarchists and Trots will walk alongside businessmen and church leaders - Christian and Moslem. Labor, Green and Democrat adherents will march under their banners while disaffected Liberals have also pledged their involvement. NSW Labor Council and dozens of unions, affiliated and non-affiliated, will have official presences.

Household names, including Judy Davis and John Pilger, will reinforce their stances publicly, alongside Mums, Dads and kids from the suburbs. Somewhere, in the middle, you will find Richard, Fiona, Pru and their neighbours from Newtown.


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