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August 2003   

Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month�s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.


The Secret Life of Us
The fact that casual workers are too scared to come forward and testify about the need for job security seems to prove their basic point � no matter how long or how well you work, you can never feel safe in your job.


 Tough Women Draw Line at Sacking

 Witness Protection Urged on IRC

 Max Swings Axe at Safety

 Sick Twist in Drug Testing

 Sacked Mum Goes to the Top

 Cuts Sour ADB Birthday Bash

 Howard Enlists Russians for Military

 Vic Workcover Invests in Worker Misery

 Public Hole in Power Shortage

 Whistleblower Sacking Sparks Zoo Walkout

 Truckie With Conscience Wins Back Job

 Indigenous Labour honours Tobler

 Asbestos Blocks Liverpool Road Works

 Activist Notebook

 Bullies in the Ranks
 It Is Still About The Members Isn't It
 Tom's Purpose
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National Focus

Gathering of the Tribes

Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

Medicare and education especially will be at the forefront of attention says ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

“Since the last ACTU Congress at Wollongong in 2000, federal government policies have caused growing economic inequality and eroded essential public services like Medicare,” Sharan Burrow says.

"The ACTU's 2003 Congress will develop strategies to improve the living standards of working people and their families, especially low-paid and casual workers.

“We will be building on successful union policies to allow all employees to achieve a better balance between their working life and family responsibilities.

"We will be taking the fight to save Medicare and bulk billing into the workplace and campaigning to rebuild our public education system.

“Like most Australians we want to see our tax money spent on decent public services so everyone can afford quality health care and education for their children," Ms Burrow says.

Major policy areas to be debated at the Congress will include:

  • improving the rights of casual workers, including the choice to convert to permanent status;
  • lifting the incomes of minimum wage workers;
  • achieving pay equity for women;
  • protecting employee entitlements;
  • reducing long hours of work; and
  • legislative changes to ensure effective rights to collective bargaining and union representataion.

The four-day Congress of 800 union delegates will be held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from August 18.

Who’s coming

Guy Ryder, the General Secretary of the International Confederation of Trade Unions. Guy has been at the forefront of many international campaigns for workers rights and against child labour and has lead the call for effective governance of globalisation through global institutions.

Linda Chavez-Thompson - the highest ranking woman in the American labor movement and the first person of color elected to an executive office of the AFL-CIO. Linda has been responsible for putting unionism on the map in some of the most redneck and antiunion parts of the American south. She is a real legend in American unionism.

Willie Madisha, the President of Council of South African Trade Unions. Willie was a prominent member of United Democratic Front in the struggle against apartheid.

Ken Georgetti from the Canadian Labour Congress. Ken has encouraged Canadian labour to take active control of union pension plans and began a number of successful, socially-responsible investment initiatives. Ken has used the traditional investor structure at annual general meetings to push corporations to assume social responsibility and implement codes of conduct based on respect for workers' rights and protection of the environment.

John Monks, the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation and a former General Secretary of the British Trade Union Congress.

Among the Australian guests will be Bob Hawke, Labor leader Simon Crean and deputy leader Jennie Macklin, Shadow IR Minister Craig Emerson, Kerry Nettle, the Greens spokesperson on workplace relations, Barbara Pocock, a respected authority on work and family issues, and Margaret Jackson, the chair of Qantas airways. Pru Goward, Carmen Lawrence and Pat Dodson will also be participating. Labor premiers Bob Carr and Steve Bracks will be special guests.

Check out the ACTU’s Congress website

The ACTU has set up a website for Congress 2003 with background papers and all the draft policies up for discussion and vote at the Congress plus all the latest news.

There are also discussion groups for each policy so you can have your say on all the issues. You can find the site at


*    Visit the ACTU

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