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December 2004   

Interview: Minority Report
New federal ALP industrial relations spokesman Stephen Smith on the hostilities in store for the labour movement.

Industrial: Girl Power
Tim Brunero looks at how women are making their mark in a once-male dominated trade.

Unions: Made in NZ
Jim Marr looks behind the rhetoric to uncover what the Howard Government has in store for Australian workers.

History: Spirit for a Fair Go
Paddy Gorman looks at the importance of Eureka on the Australian political psyche.

Economics: Fool's Gold
Tom Bramble identifies some contradictions in Howard's economic miracle.

Politics: Worth Fighting For
One of the Left's most influential figures of the last 40 years gives his theory of power ...

Health: The Force Behind Medibank
Public health has always been a core activity for the union movement, writes Neale Towart

Legal: Robust Justice
Former ACTU executive member and textile union leader Anna Booth argues that Alternate Dispute Resolution is one way around the looming assault on union rights.

International: After the Revolution
Has China entered a post-revolutionary phase - and where will it take the world, asks James Goodman

Poetry: The Sound of Unions
Ah, the hills are alive, with The Sound of Unions, muses resident bard, David Peetz

Review: Bad Santa
Billy Bob Thornton's newest role puts the 'nick' in Saint Nicholas and reveals the Satan in Santa, writes Tara de Boehmler.


New Matilda
How Labor Lost the Plot
In his contribution to Australia's new political zine 'New Matilda' , Father Michael kelly argues the ALP is in search of a soul.

The Soapbox
Outside the Tent
Labor exile Lindsay Tanner is warning the ALP to be careful who it gets into bed with.

The Locker Room
Sons Of Beaches
Phil Doyle gets the perfect wave, and waves back

The Westie Wing
150 years since the struggle at Eureka, the fight to achieve social justice, equality and responsible government is just as vital as ever in the neo-conservative Australia, writes Ian West.

Postcard from Harare
Ken Davis, from Union Aid Abroad, on how unions are at the forefront in the battle for democracy in Zimbabwe


Moral Majority
Unions NSW is currently hosting one of the world�s great thinkers in Robert Reich; academic, commentator and Clinton labour secretary; a man with a mind as big as the dilemmas progressive politics face right now.


 Moral Crusade to Save Family

 20 Dead � Stockmarket Applauds

 Karen Gives Howard a Paint Job

 Buckeridge Bill Blocks Entry

 Casual Beach Closures

 Railworkers Scull Costa

 Racism in the Dock

 Go Home Alone � And Other Survival Tips

 Vet Beats Bullet

 Cleaners Clean Up

 Weekend Work Wiped

 Miners Go to the Movies

 Feds Attack Low Paid

 Activists What's On!

 Leadership Skills
 Not A Casey Fan
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Postcard from Harare

Ken Davis, from Union Aid Abroad, on how unions are at the forefront in the battle for democracy in Zimbabwe


Although the government insists the situation is calm and is getting better and better, with genuine economic re-growth, after a day you notice that the water and electricity supply is seriously interrupted, and that's not the only problem.

At least petrol and fuel are on sale, the famine has abated, and inflation is down to 400%, even if most people don't have money to pay for rent, transport, food, medicines and schooling.

70% of workers are unemployed, and 5,000 people die each week of HIV. Official figures show that 24.6 per cent of the adult population has HIV, one of the highest rates in the world. 90 per cent of the country's 11.8 million people live on less than US $1 a day.

More than 3 million Zimbabweans (a quarter of the population) have gone to neighbouring countries or to Europe to find work and escape repression.

The elimination of critical media is almost complete, as is the banning of western music on television and radio, which is at least a welcome boost to local musicians -- well at least those who haven't written songs critical of the president.

Just after I visited the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), with whom Union Aid Abroad runs a national HIV training program for shop stewards, a 14-member delegation from the Congress of South African Trade Unions was badly treated by the government, forbidden to meet with civil society groups, arrested at the ZCTU offices, forcibly detained and bussed 800km to the Beitbridge-Musina border post to be expelled, despite a ruling in their favour by the Harare High Court and protests from unionists around the world.

Following the expulsion of the South African trade unionists, the home of acting ZCTU secretary-general, Collen Gwiyo, was ransacked, and messages were left saying he had to present himself to the security police.

Opposition leader, and former ZCTU general secretary, Morgan Tsvangirai, was acquitted of treason charges on 17 October, but faces yet more treason charges due to a speech he made at an opposition rally. Supporters gathering outside the court house to hear the verdict were driven away by baton-wielding police, who in the process assaulted ambassadors monitoring the court-case.

Another opposition leader, Roy Bennett, is now on hunger strike after being gaoled for a year after a heated debate in parliament.

A new phase of the "land reform" is underway, with farms being reassigned to the elite to restore commercial production, and drive off the poor who divided the farms into small plots, but couldn't produce enough food without water, seeds, tools, fertilisers, pesticides or training. These poor farmers join the 300,000 farm workers displaced by the previous "farm invasions".

Police are being sent to re-education camps to ensure they tow the government's line that those Zimbabweans seeking the restoration of labour and democratic rights, free elections and a new government, are part of an colonialist conspiracy under the leadership of British homosexuals and Tony


The HIV education program run by the ZCTU is one of the only ways unionists are allowed to meet. Meetings on taxation and other issues have been broken up by the police. ZCTU is able to assist union delegates gain the skills to respond to the needs of the epidemic: how to include HIV issues in bargaining, how to implement African regional trade union policy on HIV, how to mobilise workplace support for sick workers and bereaved families, how to counsel workers about HIV, and how to promote safe sex to couples.

With funding donated from the African community members in Sydney through the African Heritage group, Union Aid Abroad also supports a project in Chegutu in northern Zimbabwe taking care of 98 children who have lost parents to AIDS.

President Mugabe is confidently preparing for parliamentary elections in March 2005, knowing that voter rolls and electoral authorities have been "filtered", that police and militia can intimidate opposition supporters, that the trade unions are under threat, that all media is controlled, that emails, faxes and phone-calls are monitored, that all political gatherings are illegal, and that overseas observers will be refused.


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