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May 2003   

Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney’s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week’s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney’s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.


The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who’s counting.

Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.


Solidarity Forever
Another May Day, another year gone, another year to look back on our history and celebrate the past and talk about how we can make our movement strong again.


 Mystery Men Behind Pan Bungle

 Charities Brace for Medicare Backlash

 Court Throws Out Cole Prosecutions

 Child Actor Dodges Broken Voice

 Rio Tinto: $40 Million for Boss, Eviction for Workers

 Child Care for Oldies Too

 Winning Poster Shouts at Freeloaders

 May Day Tragedy Claims Union Lives

 Westfield Cleaners to Down Mops

 Question Marks Over Nursing Home

 Burn Payout Highlights Compo Fears

 Costa Blows Whistle on Canberra Raid

 Hoops Bet on National Body

 Tear Us Down, Buttercup

 Activist Notebook

 Is Labor History?
 Bob Gould Sprays Gerard Henderson
 War and Peace
 A Strange Light
 A Little History
 Does It Have To Be?
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The Toast

Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.


We gather every 12 months to remember the union movement's successful battle for the eight-hour day.

The story is well known ...

40,000 peaceful marchers in Chicago confronted by 1300 armed National Guardsmen as they marched through the streets on May Day, 1886.

The wave of industrial activity continued through the 1880s where workers around the globe demanded cuts to the hours they worked.

London match girls, Belgian glass workers and workers across America were campaigning for an eight-hour day.

In Australia, workers marched in Sydney in 1891 - in what was described as "a cosmopolitan army of Labor", including workers from Russia, France, Sweden and Denmark.

And they won, they established the principle of the eight hour day - with eight hours for family and eight hours to rest.

The civilised balance - that again seems like a dream to many of our members


The people in this room carry the flag for the generations of unionists who have fought for a better life in the ensuing 117 years.

On this historic night we should salute each other

We should salute each other for the eight hour day

We should salute each other for achieving equal pay

And long service leave

And workplace health and safety laws

And paid maternity leave

And all the other things we have achieved as a movement to make the lives of our members that little bit easier.


We should also salute each other because there is another union history, which is all about inter-union and inter-factional rivalries

Of demarks, deals and doing-overs

Of tribalism and hatreds that go back so long that no-one knows when or how they began.

This is the union history that does us no justice -

It is a history which, if we allow it to continue, will sow the seeds to our movement's ultimate destruction.


On May Day we should not remember the bright lights without remembering this dark side.

On May Day 2003, let's raise our glasses and toast each other

Let's look each other in the ey and commit to using the coming 12 months to build our movement and make all its parts stronger so that the whole too will grow.

To practice the principle we preach - unity, integrity, collectivism.

In that way we will honour our labour heroes and ensure their memories and achievements live on.


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