Interview: Muscling Up
Unions: Thinking Pink
Bad Boss: Global Bully
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Friend or Flunkey?
History: Young Blood
Industrial: Living For Work?
International: Fighting Together
Poetry: Medicare Plus Blues
Review: Human Racing
The Locker Room
A New Mark for Labor
Bob Gould On Kicking The Liberals Out
Message from the young: our most precious resource is each other
If you want to survive in this increasingly turbulent world, get connected, and young people are showing how, social researcher Hugh McKay told the ACTU Executive this week. Hugh outlined some of the trends popping up in his research, most worryingly the sense of bewilderment prevalent in a society racked by thirty relentless years of economic restructuring and a corresponding disengagement from the political process. But more positively he also suggested the rise of a new sense of community among young people.
‘This is a very tribal generation of young Australians and I think their characteristic is that they are inclined to be less individualistic in their attitude, to look out for each other more, to be more concerned about the health of the whole group, not just the health of the individual.’ he said. ‘That isn't yet showing up as young people's vigorous participation in the life of the community necessarily, but I think that's where it's heading and I think that the important sign post into our future is young people saying to the rest of us look, if you want to survive, if you want to thrive in an environment like this where you can't rely on what the future holds, your most precious resource is each other.’
Read more about what Hugh had to say on the ACTU website.
Latham! Latham! Latham!
The king is dead! Long live the king! Love him or hate him, there is one thing you can say about Mark Latham’s elevation to the ALP leadership this week. At least it’s a circuit breaker and we can finally get on with dealing with the real enemy. Watching the ALP slit its wrists for the last two years hasn’t been an edifying sight. Every Labor MP should now have a sign nailed to their wall that says ‘It’s about Howard, stupid’. It’s time to starve the doubt and feed the faith. We can still win!
The ACTU praised outgoing leader Simon Crean for his contribution to the labor movement this week and welcomed Latham with a commitment that we’ll all pull together to get rid of this obnoxious anti-worker government.
Gals Sweep The Gongs At ACTU Awards
The annual ACTU awards got handed out at this week’s executive with the golden gong for best delo going to the NUW’s Jai Badu. Jai works for Heinz Linfox where she has put her considerable mark on her workplace. She managed to sign up all permanent and casual members of staff into her union, won a pile of back pay for all staff, all in the face of substantial heat from the bosses.
The best national campaign went to the National Tertiary Education Union (national office) which mobilised staff across 38 universities to preserve Australia’s higher education system and fight off the Howard Government’s hardline anti-union agenda.
A feature of the awards were the large number of women among the winners. Read more about the winners on the ACTU website.
Looking for the next Sholokov
Creative types in the labour movement are being asked to sharpen up their quills and dust off their typewriters for the inaugural Abe Amaterstein Short Story Competition.
This new national short story competition is being sponsored by New International Bookshop and the Victorian Trades Hall and Literary Institute. If you come up with a good tale with a social change bent you could win $1,500. No more starving in the garret, enough bread and cheese for months! The winning entry will be published in Overland magazine. Entries close on the 6th February 2004. Entry details and forms are available online.
The Victorian State Government has announced a Parliamentary inquiry on Labour Hire and the Victorian Trades Hall Council is seeking feedback from labour hire workers in Victoria to submit to the inquiry. If you fit the bill and have ten minutes to spare fill out their Labour Hire Survey.
In Queensland news, the Productivity Commission has issued an interim report regarding its proposal for a new national workers compensation scheme of which the QCU is firmly opposed. The QCU forwarded a submission and General Secretary Grace Grace gave evidence at a public hearing in Melbourne on 1 December to put forward the QCU’s view that the proposed scheme would damage state workers compensation schemes, particularly if large employers deserted state schemes in favour of a national one. The QCU is currently working on a more detailed submission which will be forwarded in January.
The QCU and Griffith University are doing some research on the issue of trade union organising in the new economy. Dr Bob Russell from Griffith University and QCU affiliates will look at new high growth occupations such as customer service and information-oriented work and on new industries such as call centre sites – typically low-density union areas. The project will determine why these areas have low union membership and what can be done to reverse this trend.
RTBU Queensland Delegates Conference recently discussed the private sector intrusion in Queensland Rail (QR). Chris Corrigan’s Pacific National and Toll Transport are attempting to enter the rail transport arena and the RTBU and its members are working with Queensland Rail to ensure QR market share.
In South Australia, the hundreds of South Australians who lost their lives to asbestos were honoured with a memorial at Kilburn unveiled by Premier Mike Rann on national asbestos day, Friday November 28. UTLC Secretary, Janet Giles says it is appropriate that the memorial be located at Jack Watkins Park in Kilburn, as it is the site of the former Islington Railway Yards. ‘The site is infamous for the large number of workers who died of asbestos related diseases as a result of stripping friable asbestos from railway carriages. It also resulted in wives and children of the workers dying as the workers carried the dust home on their clothes. Asbestos dust also blew around the area into people's homes and yards.’
In other news from SA workers are being urged to support a campaign that kickstarted in Queensland to ensure Aboriginal employees receive compensation for wages and entitlements stolen from them in the past and the UTLC’s dynamic youth wing U-Who have picked up a $150,000 grant from the Foundation for Young Australians
‘This grant will be put to good use, by providing support to workers of their rights, getting information into schools for young people about to enter the workforce, establishing a mentor system, and special programs for culturally and linguistically diverse workers and those of aboriginal background,’ says the UTLC’s youth officer Leif Larsen.
In West Australia 200 union delegates and officials turned up to a very successful organising conference organised by Unions WA in late November. Unions WA secretary Stephanie Mayman says there was a lot of enthusiasm and work put into devising industry strategies to reverse the trend of union decline in the west. ‘The key now is to maintain the momentum and take it forward,’ she says.
The CFMEU, AWU, CEPU and AMWU have signed up with the State government and the ACTU an agreement on the Burup Fertiliser site which sets a framework to work together to build union membership and establish organising rights.
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