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June 2003   

History: Nest of Traitors
Rowan Cahill uncovers a ripping yarn that could redefine the way we look at Australian involvement in World War II.

Interview: A Nation of Hope
Former PM Bob Hawke bemoans the demise of industrial relations but takes heart from the prospect of peace in the Middle East

Unions: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on a soap star rebellion, Howard’s plans to renuclearise South Australia, more historical atrocities in the north, the redundancy test case plus more in the monthly national wrap.

Safety: The Shocking Truth
It’s every power worker’s worst nightmare – and it happened to Adrian Ware. In a flash of voltage, his life changed forever, as Jim Marr reports.

Tribute: A Comrade Departed
From Prime Ministers to wharfies, the labour movement paid tribute to Tas Bull this week. Jim Marr was among them.

History: Working Bees
Neale Towart looks at a group of workers who got sacked so their boss could keep making the Bomb.

Education: The Big Picture
The NTEU’s Dr Mike Donaldson and Tony Brown join all the dots in the current debate around higher eduction.

International: Static Labour
Ray Marcelo argues there’s another side to the recent furore over Telstra’s use of cheap Indian IT contractors.

Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Frank Stilwell argues that Peter Costello’s latest budget plumbs fiscal policy to new depths.

Technology: Google and Campaigning
Labourstart’s Eric Lee argues the latest weapon for campaigning could be the humble search engine.

Review: Secretary With A Difference
Looking for a new job can be hard enough, without having to worry about sadomasochistic bosses and the threat of being spanked for forgetting to cross your ‘t’s, says Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Minimale
The Labor Party leadership is in the news again, inspiring our resident bard David Peetz to song

Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
John Howard released a controversial policy statement today, arguing that the Senate be abolished in favour of a device measuring noise from the gallery of the House of Representatives.


It’s Our Party
Long time union watcher Nicholas Way looks at the changing dynamics between the industrial and political wings of the labour movement.

The Soapbox
Grass Roots
In his Maiden Speech, new MP Tony Burke argues that the ALP’s union links are nothing to be ashamed of.

Opinion Forming Down Under
Evan Jones condemns the mainstream’s media coverage of the War on Iraq and the damage it is doing to our national psyche.

The Locker Room
Location, Re-Location!
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a club, writes Phil Doyle


To the Victors The Spoils
Revelations that private American lawyers, rather than the ILO, will rewrite the labour laws of countries levelled by the American military vindicate the warnings of those concerned by US unilateralism.


 Rail Chaos Looms

 Electrolux Blows Fuse at Fundraiser

 ACM Loosens Handcuff on Democracy

 Sick Call on Mum’s Job

 Now For Industrial Shock and Awe

 Brian Miller – Working Class Hero

 Dynamite: Howard Handout for Rorters

 Family Case to Nurture Mothers

 Militants Lock Out Another 600

 Tipping the Turtle – Fijian Style

 Carr Goes Private

 Wages Blemish Sound Budget

 Westie Takes On Westfield ‘Hypocrisy’

 Eleventh Hour Reprieve for Women's Centre

 Activist Notebook

 In Defence of Cuba
 The Story in General
 Thinking of America
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Secretary With A Difference

Looking for a new job can be hard enough, without having to worry about sadomasochistic bosses and the threat of being spanked for forgetting to cross your ‘t’s, says Tara de Boehmler.


The latest flick by Steven Shainberg goes some way to helping innocent job hunters heed the warning signs of a position worth passing up. And there's something in it for all those shonky operators and unscrupulous bosses out there too. Reading more like a to do guide for scooping the Bad Boss of the year award, Secretary shows just what is possible in a non-unionised workforce when dealing with the most vulnerable of employees.

When Lee Holloway (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) finally checks out of a mental institution and instantly starts falling back into her depression she realises she has a couple of choices. She can continue to self-mutilate herself (making tangible the pain she is experiencing within), she can start to build her life in the image of her humble dreams (maybe even addressing the root of her pain), or she can do both.

So choosing the latter option Lee embarks on the job hunt that eventually leads her to the paralegal law firm housing one Mr E. Edward Grey, Esq. (aka James Spader). From the moment she sets foot on the property the warning signs to anyone with even the slightest amount of work experience would be clear. But trusting Lee innocently continues like a lamb to slaughter.

Passing the permanent 'secretary wanted' sign, which is lit up like a hotel 'vacancy' sign outside, Lee encounters Edward's former secretary who is in tears on her way out. Rubbish is strewn across the floor of the blood red reception area but she somehow finds her way to Edward's office which, much like Edward himself, is the embodiment of pristine perfection.

Edward's job interview is straight to the point, if a little invasive. Does she live with her parents, is she pregnant, and is she going to get pregnant any time in the foreseeable future? Edward's cross-examination sidesteps any question of experience and so, answering 'favourably' with no hint of discomfort other than that connected to her own insecurity, lands Lee the job.

And so begins an employer/employee relationship like (hopefully) no other. "You will be bored," he warns more like an order. "That's okay, I like being bored," she assures. But their version of boredom is a world apart from the standard garden variety.

All he wants is someone who can answer the phone, type on the antiquated office equipment and, as it turns out, beg like a dog, bray like a lamb, carry out office tasks while fastened to a steel bar and take the odd spanking. And what she wants appears remarkably compatible.

But this movie is less about the employer employee relationship than it is a love story with a difference.

For this reviewer the message was clear: no matter what your kink or how zany your sexual preferences, there is probably at least one other bugger out there who is equally weird ... and if you're really lucky you might even be attracted to each other.

But if you don't want this freakishess on the job, join your union.

Rating: four out of five stars (new frontiers in weirdness)


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