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July 2005   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: Battle Stations
Opposition leader Kim Beazley says he's ready to fight for workers right. But come July 1, he'll have to be fighting by different rules.

Unions: The Workers, United
It was a group of rank and filers who took centre stage when workers rallied in Sydney's Town Hall, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: The Lost Weekend
The ALP had a hot date, they had arranged to meet on the Town Hall steps, and Phil Doyle was there.

Industrial: Truth or Dare
Seventeen ivory towered academics upset those who know what is best for us last week.

History: A Class Act
After reading a new book on class in Australia, Neale Towart is left wondering if it is possible to tie the term down.

Economics: The Numbers Game
Political economist Frank Stilwell offers a beginners guide to understanding budgets

International: Blonde Ambition
Sweden can be an inspiration to labour movements the world over, as it has had community unionism for over 100 years, creating a vibrant caring society, rather than a "productive" lean economy.

Training: The Trade Off
Next time you go looking for a skilled tradesman and can’t find one, blame an economist, writes John Sutton.

Review: Bore of the Worlds
An invincible enemy has people turning against one another as they fight for survival – its not just an eerie view of John Howard’s ideal workplace, writes Nathan Brown.

Poetry: The Beaters Medley
In solidarity with the workers of Australia, Sir Paul McCartney (with inspiration from his old friend John Lennon) has joined the Workers Online resident bard David Peetz to pen some hits about the government's proposed industrial relations revolution.

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson lifts the lid on ‘The Nine Myths of Modern Unionism’

The Locker Room
Wrist Action
Phil Doyle trawls the murky depths of tawdry sleaze, and discovers Rugby is behind it all.

Culture
To Hew The Coal That Lies Below
Phil Doyle reviews Australia's first coal mining novel, Black Diamonds and Dust.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite State MP, Ian West, reports from Macquarie Street that the Premier is all the way with a State Commission.

E D I T O R I A L

After the Action
After a National Week of Action that has had everything from mass rallies in all capital cities to IR chat rooms opening on the Vogue Magazine website it’s fair to say that the first objective of this campaign – to raise public awareness – has been achieved.

N E W S

 Don't Get Angry, Get Organised

 Feds Threaten Hardie Battlers

 Beasts of Bourbon Play Dog

 Churches on Workplace Mission

 Unions Are The New Black

 Muster Has Bosses in Fluster

 Workers Flood to Protests

 Official: Libs Don’t Know Own Laws

 Schools Out For Uni Bosses

 IR Campaign Taxing Andrews

 Air Safety at Risk

 Carr Runs Over Lib Laws

 Aga Khan Workers Gaoled

 Activists Whats On!

L E T T E R S
 Workers Give In FNQ
 Power and the Passion
 Mao and Then
 The Third Way Hits A Dead End
 Unfair For All
 What Is To Be Done?
 Black Hawk Up
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Parliament

The Westie Wing


Our favourite State MP, Ian West, reports from Macquarie Street that the Premier is all the way with a State Commission.

******

Bob Carr has committed NSW Labor to support a State Commission and a High Court challenge to the Federal attack by John Howard.

State Labor Governments around Australia need to look at what they're able to do to confront the proposed Federal laws. They need to do everything possible, while they still can, to put the case for the age old and fundamental struggle of workers' rights.

Workers rights are Human rights - rights of freedom of association, to collectively bargain, to promote and join a free trade union of your choice, to strike - they are the things that civilise capital.

Throughout history, dictatorial regimes have attempted to crush and control workers' movements to maintain their hold on power. At the same time, unions have given voice to the aspirations of ordinary people and have agitated to change unjust laws and made living and working conditions more bearable for the entire community.

Unions bring balance to the power and influence of Radical Conservatives who want to race to the bottom in relation to working standards and conditions, across the globe.

The list of Governments and Regimes who abused their power and tried to crush free trade unions is endless - Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franco, Pinochet to name a few. Sooner or later they come unstuck.

But a lazy media will continue to run hand in hand with the Federal Government on this issue. Their manipulation and control of language is a battle to mute the minds of Australians.

They mis-use words like "Reform", "Choice", "Freedom", "Deregulation" and "Union Confrontation" - as John Howard sets about re-regulating the labour market in his own image. He is re-regulating not deregulating.

Having already stacked out the High Court, John Howard is now increasing his attack on the fundamental pillars of democracy like the separation of powers - a workers' right to judicial recourse through an independent umpire in an Industrial relation Commission will be bastardised into an administrative structure operating on the whim of the Minister.

The Federal Government still hasn't, and can't make their case for change. As John Robertson said on 1st July, our work needs to take place in the community, and in the workplace. I know that the discipline and hard work being put into the Federal campaign against Howard's fascist like Industrial Relations changes will last the distance.

PARLIAMENT

State Parliament finished its Autumn Session on Thursday night, 23rd June, after 25 days of sitting. In that time, 47 Bills ranging from the Appropriation Bill (NSW Budget) to the Workplace Surveillance Bill were passed and became Acts, while another 18 Bills wait for the nod from the Governor. Two other Bills were voted down and won't go anywhere.

Parliament sits again on the 13th September. Parliamentary Committees will continue to pursue inquiries during this time - talking evidence and receiving submissions.

In September I'll get half an hour to move a motion on casual work I put on the agenda in June 2004. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has a story or experience to reveal about being employed on a casual basis.

Another issue kicking around Parliament involves the CFMEU that has been asking concerned residents to email Clover Moore in relation to protecting leisure time for workers. Most building sites are closed on the long weekends in the CBD. However smaller non-union sites often carry on over long weekends, affecting the amenity of residents, as well as working conditions. By supporting a ban on work on the long weekends, Sydney City Council would be striking a blow for workers, residents, families and the community.

I'll be away on a Commonwealth Parliamentary tour most of July. Among other things, I'll be looking at ideas on implementation, monitoring and enforcement, as well as safety initiatives that prevent road deaths - be they traffic or work related. This follows on from work on the Staysafe Committee that has seen evidence of big companies attempting to wash their hands of the effects of limited timeslots for truck deliveries.

I'll also be presenting a petition signed by a majority of both houses here that supports LHMU colleagues in London, the cleaners union, which is part of the Transport and General Workers Union. Many people would understand the effects of subcontracting arrangements on working entitlements.

As part of my CPA requirements I'm visiting Westminster - I'll present letters of support to cleaners in the House of Commons.

I'll also be seeking solidarity from Labor MPs and workers' unions in this country's struggle against the most serious attack on human rights and workers rights in the last century.

I'll report later to you on the activities and matters arising from the trip.

COMMITTEES

Go to my website www.ianwestmlc.com.au and select Parliament Committees for an exhaustive list of what's going on in Parliamentary Committees over Winter.

The Social Issues Committee is kicking along four Inquiries at present:

- Dental services issues including public access, availability and waiting times, treatments and workforce training

- Funeral Industry issues including costs, employee/consumer/public health protection, regulations and the Funeral Industry Council

- Macquarie Fields issues including policing, Government and NGO social service provision, underlying causes and problems

- Recruitment and Training of Teachers issues including how to attract and retain quality teachers, accreditation and meeting school recruitment needs.

Legislative Council Standing Committee number 1 inquiry into personal injury insurance including workers compensation, motor accidents, public events and commercial spaces continues.

The Inquiry has only one hearing left, before it proceeds to finalise its report. There is no reporting date as of yet. We received over 60 submissions, and will have heard from nearly 30 organisations by the time hearings conclude. The Final report will be made available to Departments, Ministers and any interested party for comment and possible future action.

I take this opportunity to note that The Hon Gordon Moyes, the Chair of GPSC 1, has made some positive comments about workers in debates like the following on the Workplace Surveillance Bill:-

"From an employee's perspective, workplace surveillance may represent a very real and potential threat to dignity and autonomy...

...an employee ought not to be treated simply as a commodity - as a non-human - to be monitored solely for work purposes. In a number-crunching world it is easy to ...people as human capital to be utilised to better the bottom line...

...An employee's life outside work may rarely enter the employer's mind. To see employees solely as work-producing machines negates the fact that employees are human, with rights and responsibilities outside the workplace...

...Importantly, we are also living in a day and age when the strict divide between work and home is not as clear-cut as it once was. People are spending more and more time at work...attributed to a number of variables, including increased work demands and pressures, the perceived need for more financial prosperity, and the desire for career elevation and acceleration...

Hand in hand with spending more time at work is the fact that employees will need to carry out in the workplace activities that are usually carried out at home. The blurred divide between work and home ought not to be neglected..."

I take this opportunity to congratulate Paul Lynch, the Member for Liverpool, for ensuring the attempted rewriting of history by Conservatives doesn't go unchallenged. Paul moved a Notice of Motion on 21 June that reads:

"That this House:

- Recognises and congratulates the St Vincent de Paul Society for many years of impressive charitable works;

- Notes the claim by the Centre for Independent Studies that the St Vincent de Paul Society is part of a communist conspiracy; and

- Agrees with the St Vincent de Paul Society that the Centre for Independent Studies should have a "Bex and a good lie down".

If you require assistance accessing information from a NSW Government Department or a Minister, or have feedback and ideas for speeches, or if you believe you know an issue that should be looked at by one of the Parliamentary committees, contact me at Parliament House on (02) 9230 2052 or email [email protected]


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