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April 2003   

Interview: Picking Up The Peaces
Walk Against the War Coalition convenor Bruce Childs outlines the challenge for the peace movement in the lead up to Palm Sunday.

Unions: The Royal Con
Jim Marr argues the Cole Commission can only be taken seriously by people kept ignorant of the way it actually operated.

National Focus: Around the Grounds
Unions maintain the pressure for peace as the upcoming organising conference takes on added significance, reports Noel Hester.

Economics: The Secret War on Trade
Overseas-based multi-nationals are coming after our film industry, electricity, water, pharmaceutical benefits and even childcare. Or are they? Nobody knows, as Jim Marr reports.

International: United Front
Workers and their unions around the world have possibly never been as united in their commitment to campaign together against the War in Iraq, writes Andrew Casey

History: Confessions of a Badge Collector
Bill Pirie has one of the largest collections of trade union badges in the world. After 20 years the collection now numbers some 6,000 badges.

Politics: Stalin�s Legacy
Fifty years ago last month Josef Stalin died. How could it be that a democratic and socialist revolution produced one of the monsters of the twentieth century, asks Leonie Bronstein.

Review: Such Was Not Ned�s Life
The life of Ned Kelly is what we in the world of journalism term a �ball tearing yarn� so why have writers of the movie adaptation felt so impelled to dress it up with fiction, asks Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Osama's Top Recruiter
Through our extensive intelligence networks, we have managed to track down the top recruiter for the global terror network of Osama bin Laden.

Satire: Woolworths CEO Denied Bonus After Company Posts Profit
Woolworths chief executive Roger Corbett was devastated today to report an 18.3% rise in profit under his management over the last year.


The Soapbox
Factional Free-For-All
Chris Christodoulou looks at the fallout from the selection of the new Carr Ministry and what it means to the factional warlords.

The Locker Room
The Best Season Since Last Year
Phil Doyle goes trudging through the mud in search of the heart of the matter beneath the corporate biffo

Books on Bombs
In times like these, reading inevitably turns to America and war. Chris White wades through Pilger, Chomsky, Eco, Moore and Vidal.

Postcard from Harvard
Labor Council's Michael Gadiel was elected to give the valedictory speech to this year's Harvard Trade Union Program.


The Fog of War
As the War Without a Mandate proceeds apace, any notion of a domestic political agenda has become surplus to requirements.


 Cole Launches Civil Rights Assault

 Protests Target Arncliffe �Shocker�

 Commerce Swallows DIR

 Abbott, Bosses Turn Guns on Low Paid

 Fat Cats Should Justify Salaries - LHMU

 Black Humour for a Dark Issue

 Minister on Threats, Coercion

 Bosses Stonewall Union Dues Ruling

 Private Hospitals Pay Out on 15 Percent

 Councils on Hotel Workers� Agenda

 Sharon Hammers Israeli Workers

 Shangri-La Blue Ends

 Inaugural Orwell Awards

 Activist Notebook

 The Rule of Law
 Trots Bomb Back
 Tom's Turn
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National Focus

Around the Grounds

Unions maintain the pressure for peace as the upcoming organising conference takes on added significance, reports Noel Hester.


The Howard/Bush/Blair criminal adventure in Iraq maintains its evil momentum but throughout the country unions have been steadfast in a principled stand against the war. Well supported rallies have been the go in every state and unions with churches and other community groups are looking at Palm Sunday as a big day to put peace not war on the national agenda.

Peace and PPPs In The Sunshine State

The Queensland Peace Network - which includes Queensland unions - mobilised 8000 on day one of the war. Another 5000 turned up on the following weekend. Major rallies are planned for May 5 on Labor Day and April 13 on Palm Sunday.

In other news Queensland Council of Unions recently ran a very successful Forum on PPPs and government revenues with Margy Jaffes, an expert from the British union UNISON on public-private partnerships, and several well know Australian academics including John Quiggin and Jeff Dow. If you want some info arising from these discussions email Gavin Sawford [email protected].

u-who South Australia

Adelaide too has had major turnouts at the antiwar rallies. 100,000 turned up at a major pre-war rally and 10,000 mobilised on the Sunday after the war started. South Australian unions also focussing on Palm Sunday in collaboration with the churches and community groups. May Day will also have a serious peace theme.

South Australia's UTLC is to launch a youth project called u-who next week following up from their fruitful activity at the Big Day Out and O-week. ACTU Secretary Greg Combet will be the guest at the launch to be held at ASU delegates conference. The project, driven by young South Australian activists, has researched and developed materials on unions, occupational health and safety and workers rights for other school kids.

The South Australian unions are also participating in a state development summit and have produced their own blueprint for how the state can go forward in the interests of working people. A New Partnership for Investment and Growth is a good read and can be downloaded from the UTLC website.

Janet Giles from the UTLC says South Australian unions are also beginning to get impatient about the slow progress from the new Labor Government in changing the old IR laws. Over the last twelve months there have been three reviews and recommendations in areas of relevance to South Australian workers - workers comp, ohs and workplace laws without any real movement.

Victorians front up to a Fed government that thrives on conflict

Victorian unions have been at the forefront of organising a number of large rallies against the war on Iraq. In particular there was a very successful day of workplace action on 23 March when thousands of Victorian workers in small symbolic ways voiced their antipathy to the war. Maritime workers, in what the Melbourne media described as a 'silent but effective' protest unfurled a banner against the war on the Spirit of Tasmania. Building workers have also ensured the CBD skyline was creatively used to show the antiwar sentiments of CFMEU members. Nurses at the Royal children's hospital lit candles for peace, parliamentary staff - members of the CPSU and the ASU stopped work to unfurl an anti war banner on the steps of parliament. Librarians and NTEU members advocated for books not bombs on the front steps of the State Library at Melbourne Central - all of which received prominent local media coverage.

The VTHC has no intentions of lying down before the Howard Governement-inspired attack on the building unions. Delegates and activists are invited to a briefing to be held on 9 April from 10 to 11 am at the Regent theatre Collins Street on the Cole Royal Commission. A variety of speakers will outline the implications of the Cole findings - the criminalisation of union activity, the attempt to abolish pattern bargaining and the police forcing of building sites and the wider impact of this Abbott agenda for other unions.

May Day activities in Victoria will be based on the theme of 'Respect - Work For Workers Rights' advocated by the ICFTU. There will be a rally on May 1 at Trades Hall with the very reasonable demand that the Fed Government front up with a people's budget not a war budget.

Palm Sunday is shaping up as a big day everywhere and Victoria will be no different with unions determined to let Howard know his foolish and unconscionable commitment to war in Iraq is opposed by unionists.

The VTHC in collaboration with some Victorian unions has appointed a youth coordinator - Camille Barbagello - formerly of NUS. Camille will be promoting a Young Activists Network and will be working with unions to develop strategies to attract more young people into union activism. So any young Victorian workers want to get involved should give Camille a ring on 03 9659 3553.

Tassie unions try to save Bacon from the wooden spoon

Tasmanians too have been turning out in healthy numbers to antiwar rallies and are also looking at Palm Sunday as a focus for peace. May Day is being celebrated in a can-do way with a delegates conference where over 300 delegates are expected to converge to map out a way forward for the union movement in the state.

On another front, to hijack the jargon of the warmongers, Tasmanian unions are putting pressure on the Tasmanian government to sign up to the ACTU Call Centre Minimum Standards code both in their own workplaces and where they outsource work. Unions are also pushing for the standards to be adopted in private sector workplaces throughout the state. Tasmania is one of the last states left yet to sign the code.

Organising Conference - it's gunna be bigger than Elvis!

This week's union membership figures were a bit of a cold shower for us all and highlight the importance of the upcoming Organising Conference to be held in Sydney on May 7,8,9. The conference - appropriately called Let's Get Real! - is jointly sponsored by the ACTU, the NSW Labor Council and the NZCTU. Hundreds of activists have already signed up and we want more. There are to be 108 speakers at 36 different workshops. Overseas speakers include Mary Kay Henry from the South California local of the SEIU. This union has grown by 500,000 since 1987. (Any takers out there for that winning recipe?) Also Ernest Bennett from American union UNITE will also share his undoubted organising wisdom. Greg Combet will present a sequel to unions@work outlining a program for Union Renewal at the conference. To register for the Let's Get Real go to the ACTU Organising Centre website or contact Suzanne Culph on 02 9264 9744. Suzanne assures us it's not going to be earnest and dour, in fact she's promising us good times and fun. At the apres-organise those lunatics from the Chaser and Penny Cook will providing some entertainment at a dinner hosted at Parliament by John Della Bosca.


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