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July 2003   

Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
One the movement�s great characters, Public Service Association general secretary Maurie O�Sullivan, is calling it a day. He looks back on his career with Workers Online.

Industrial: Just Doing It
Sportswear giant, Nike, is the first company to sign off on an agreement that purports to protect Australian clothing workers, wherever they labour, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
For a 23-year-old woman who has never worked in the trade, recruiting young construction apprentices into the union has its challenges, reports Carly Knowles.

Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Mal Cochrane came to the smoke as part of an Aboriginal avalanche that redefined the face of Rugby League. Today, he serves his community through the trade union movement.

Bad Boss: In the Pooh
What do you give a boss who makes his workers labour in raw sewage? A nomination for the Tonys.

Unions: National Focus
In the national wrap Noel Hester finds a Victorian Misso delo who is redistributing lucre from Eddie McGuire into workers� theatre, South Australian unions taking that Let�s Get Real stuff seriously, an American unionist fronts up at a distinguished �meeting of the brains� in Adelaide and a look at the line up for ACTU Congress.

Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Dick Bryan wonders if we can be insured against pop economists promising financial nirvana as well as financial market instability.

Technology: Dean for President
Paul Smith looks at how the internet is helping one Democrat candidate to the front of the primary pack

International: Rangoon Rumble
Union Aid Abroad's Marj O'Callaghan looks at Australia's weak response to developments in Burma.

Education: Blackboard Jungle
Lifelong learning shouldn�t mean cutting jobs, but that's exactly what the Carr Government is proposing, argues Tony Brown

Review: From Weakness to Strength
Labor Council crime-fighter Chris Christodoulou catches up with his boyhood hero, the Incredible Hulk

Poetry: Downsized
Resident bard David Peetz pens the song the Industrial Relations Commission needed to hear


The Soapbox
Cleaning Up
Rabbi Laurie Coskey from San Diego adds her voice to the global campaign for just for cleaners in Westfield malls.

The Locker Room
The Name In The Game
In an age of the sportsperson as celebrity it seems that names are overtaking the games, writes Phil Doyle.

The Beach
Southern Thailand�s terrorist activities: facts or fiction asks HT Lee


A Recipe for Conflict
Without making any excuses, Tony Abbott�s hand wringing at this week�s airing of a secret video of picket line violence was a bit like watching Don King condemn boxing.


 Aussie Workers Cradle-Snatched

 Morris McMahon Workers Say Thanks

 Violence: Emerson Fingers Abbott

 Cowboys Face Contracts Ban

 TUTA Rises From the Ashes

 Teased Teachers Fight Back

 Labor Fails TAFE Test

 Coke Called on to Stop the Rot

 Bridgestone Drops Doughnut on Workers

 AIRC Locked in Dark Ages

 Maternity Breakthrough in Hotels

 Labour Rights: Even Bush is Better!

 Long Winter for Seasonal Workers

 Activist Notebook

 A Tribute to Brian Miller
 Orange Peel
 After the Accident
 Cuba - the Debate Continues
 Old Ted
 Greetings from Japan
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National Focus

In the national wrap Noel Hester finds a Victorian Misso delo who is redistributing lucre from Eddie McGuire into workers� theatre, South Australian unions taking that Let�s Get Real stuff seriously, an American unionist fronts up at a distinguished �meeting of the brains� in Adelaide and a look at the line up for ACTU Congress.

A Victorian revives workers' theatre

Once upon a time unions used to be at the cutting edge of popular culture. Steve Gome, a delo for the missos at the MCG, is doing his bit to revive this fantastic tradition. Steve is directing a play - Mr Puntilla and his Matti by Bertolt Brecht - at the Victorian Trades Hall. Don't think this is some sort of drab socialist realist monologue - get a load of the plot: set in the Finnish countryside it tells of the misadventures of a drunken landowner, Mr Puntilla who owns a sawmill, a studebaker, a forest, has four fiancees and ninety cows. And a chauffeur who has to keep picking up the pieces. There are themes about principles, for sure, but there's also plenty of laughs.

Steve came up with a great idea to finance the piece. He went on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, won a motza, and promptly told Eddie McGuire that he was going to spend some of the dough putting on a play at Trades Hall. For a review of the play go to the VTHC website.

Victorian unions have a new campaign going on for corporate accountability. VTHC remains committed to having laws to target corporate criminals. They're sticking to a long held demand that criminal sanctions apply to workplace deaths and are asking the Bracks government to tighten up the OHS laws. They want $5 million sanctions and the same standards of accountability to apply to workplace deaths as do roads or in the community.

Another long running dispute at Geelong Woolcombing is still running and next Friday unions are having a breakfast/fundraiser for the female partners of the striking workers doing it hard. Supporters are encouraged visit the picket line - see the VTHC website for details.

Similarly workers at Smorgon steel have now been fighting for 134 days for a 36 hour week. Again the VTHC are encouraging people to visit the picket line. Their details are up on the site as well.

US unionist guest star at Adelaide's cerebral fest

American unionist Amy Dean - a driver of the successful 'Union Cities' project in Silicon Valley was the guest at well attended seminar in Adelaide this week. Over 50 organisers from 9 different unions turned up. Amy highlighted the importance of unions working with the community and Labor Councils being central to building organising across unions.

UTLC Secretary Janet Giles says Amy's experiences resonated with the South Australian audience.

'Her story is similar to South Australia and the lesson is: we can do a lot more at the state level. She had some good ideas include building a power map of the state -.collecting knowledge across the movement and working out who has what influence. Also she had a good idea about running joint courses between unions, communities and university researchers.'

While in Adelaide Amy was also a participant at the Festival of Ideas - a cerebral gathering which has all sorts of intellectuals descend on the city. Amy played a great role injecting some imaginative union thinking in to what could otherwise be just a highbrow talkfest.

At a recent UTLC Planning Day, South Australian affiliates came up with an earth moving idea - they would not only concentrate their efforts on building up membership power but they'd also help each other do it!

Janet Giles says unions, driven by some positive experiences - in particular the recent national organising conference and a successful blitz in aged care are coming together more to help each other out.

'We had five different unions work together on the Aged Care blitz. Young organisers from different unions just loved helping each other out.'

Janet Giles says not only are unions beginning to work more closely together but so are the Labor Councils.

'We are building on the fact that we have Labor governments in all the states and we are sharing our experiences of test cases and tested winning strategies.'

ACTU Congress on the horizon

The trienniale workers parliament convenes in August this year (from the 18th to the 21st). ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles says the backbone of the Congress will be the Future of Work and Future Strategies and policies that will emanate from that.

'Draft congress policies and background papers will be available on the ACTU website soon,' he says.

Richard Marles says union reps can expect a good line up of international union leaders to participate.

Among the International crew coming along are Ken Georgetti from Canada, John Monks, formerly of the British TUC , now heading up the European Trades Union Congress, Linda Chavez-Thompson from the American AFL-CIO, Tom Woodruffe fro the SEIU, Willi Madisha from South Africa's COSATU, and Ross Wilson from New Zealand. Keynote speaker will be Guy Ryder from the ICFTU. There will also be some surprise guest celebrities.

Queensland public servants get a raise

Queensland public sector unions have finalised their enterprise agreement with the state government picking up three wage increases of 3.8 per cent each over 39 months plus increased security of employment.

The issue of PPPs at the Southbank education precinct is hotting up. The Queensland Council of Unions has been asked to give input into Government policy with regard to PPPS. The union response is going in today.

QCU Assistant Secretary Chris Barrett says the unions haven't agreed to PPPs in Queensland.

'We are saying that working conditions in public/private partnerships should be the same as the public sector. We are determined to avoid a two tier industrial relations system in Queensland,' he says.

Blue Ribbon meats still festering

In Tassie the Meatworkers dispute at Blue Ribbon continues. It is now in its fifteenth week with the workers who wanted to pursue a collective agreement and did not sign up as 'independent contractors' locked out since 2 April 2003. The Tasmanian Industrial Commission has asked for final written submissions by 25 July, with a hearing on August 1 for final oral submissions. A decision on this shocker is not expected before mid to late August.

The AIRC's Safety Net decision and an increase in the Supported Wage finally passed the Commission and wage rates in all State awards, including the supported wage, will be increased from 1 August 2003 (this is 12 months since the last SNA increase).

Unions Tasmania also pushed to flow on the principle of the Reasonable Hours test case, and have the model clause adopted and awards to be varied. on application. The Commission endorsed this gain as well.


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