Interview: The New Deal
Unions: In the Line of Hire
Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
International: The Domino Effect
Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Poetry: Just Move On.
Review: Reality Bites
The Locker Room
The Secret Life of Us
It Is Still About The Members Isn't It
When last year popular Secret Life character Gabrielle started working for a union it looked like the program was shaping up to be the perfect vehicle for educating people about workers' rights and the vital role of trade unions in ensuring they were given a fair go.
Week after week Gabrielle the unionist went compassionately into battle on behalf of workers subjected to bullying, intimidation, and other infringements of their basic rights.
She was raw and naive but her clear commitment to her union's members won the hearts and minds of viewers everywhere. And when her over-enthusiasm threatened to derail an entire anti-discrimination campaign many sympathised as her boss reprimanded her for behaving like a "loose cannon".
A trade union is a group and a ction must be taken as a group, she was told.
That was months ago and much has changed as far as Gabrielle is concerned. The question now foremost in her mind is whether a moral stance is possible within an environment based on a united front.
What led to this was a storyline that ran suspiciously like one side of a case currently before the Melbourne County Court - so much so that the hit series is now the subject of a contempt of court complaint lodged by the lawyer of former metals union boss Craig J ohnston.
The episode in question featured an unruly mob of union officials proceeding to terrorise a group of contractors who had been called in during an industrial dispute.
Gabrielle was aghast when told that if she didn't donate to a union fighting fund to help support the officials, she would have no choice but to leave her job.
She packed her bags, argued unfair dismissal, won reinstatement, but turned down the offer because she no longer believed in the movement. Her entire belief system was thrown into doubt and she felt moved to question whether a moral stance was really possible within an environment based on a united front.
If recent events behind the scenes are anything to go by the answer would surely be yes.
Cast members from The Secret Life Of Us were among many soapie stars participating in a recent stop work meeting held in support of extras and guest stars. The participants used the meeting to show they were united in opposing shabby treatment of theses actors, who were often required to spend long periods of time on 'stand-by' in case required on screen, meanwhile risking the loss of money from other work. The Daily Telegraph even ran a photo of the Secret Life cast members to accompany the story.
More recently star cast member Claudia Karvan also addressed a large group of entertainers on the dangers a free trade agreement with the US would pose to Australian cultural industries. Once again it was by forming a united front that people in the entertainment industry hoped to make their voices of opposition heard.
But if a moral stance really can coincide with unity then the script does not reflect it. Standing alone, Gabrielle was fast to write off an entire movement committed to the very ideals her own character professed to stand for. She allowed her perception of one event to stand for the morals of the whole and she gave up fighting upon encountering her first hurdle.
But all may not be lost. It was recently revealed certain Secret Life characters may be in the midst of their Saturn Return - a cataclysmic astrological event apparently afflicting human beings once every thirty-odd years. Under this planetary influence if anything might go wrong it probably will, but at the end of the road it is all supposed to make perfect sense.
So with Gabrielle now intent on entering politics, the best we can now do is keep watching as all will (perhaps) make sense in due course, esoterically speaking.
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