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August 2005   

Interview: On Holiday
Historian Richard White looks back on the Aussie vacation - and finds a way of life is under threat.,

Unions: One Day Longer
Nathan Brown travels to the Boeing picket line and find a group of workers with a steely determination to stick together.

Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Jim Marr plays the Howard Government's industrial relations spin job on its merits.

Politics: Spun Out
Canberra’s latest campaign underlines the need for controls over government advertising, according to Graeme Orr and Joo-Cheong Tham

Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
Evan Jones explains how the way we purchase alcolohol reflects the type of economy we live in.

History: Taking a Stand
Neale Towart looks at two books that chronicle how to build community support against social injustice.

International: The Split
Amanda Tattersal outsider's account of an insider's shake-out at the AFL-CIO Convention 2005

Legal: Pushing the Friendship
George Williams argues that the federal government’s constitutional powers are not sufficient to enact a comprehensive national industrial relations scheme

Poetry: Simple Subtractions
The latest blitz of taxpayer-funded advertising has revealed a crisis of arithmetic in government ranks has moved resident bard David Peetz to prose.

Review: Sydney Trashed
Sydney band SC Trash are on a mission to give new life to folk and country music – and the politics of common sense. Nathan Brown had a beer with them


The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, goes away for a couple of weeks and look what happens…

The Soapbox
The Last Weekend
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson's speech to the Last Weekend - how the Howard government laws will undermine the Ausrtalian way of life.

The Locker Room
A Concept Is Born
In which Phil Doyle helps the proponents of the vision thing across the road.

Workers Blood For Oil
A new book by Abdullah Muhsin and Alan Johnson lifts the lid on the bloody reality of US backed democracy for Iraq's trade unions

London Post
During his recent stay in London IEU industrial officer John Shapiro was living only a few hundred metres from the site of one of the bomb blasts.


Iemma’s Dilemmas
The past fortnight has seen the sort of upheaval in NSW that reminds us all that politics is a very tenuous game with few certainties and even fewer rules.


 Carmen's Boss No Fun Guy

 Discriminating Centrelink on Charges

 Uproar Over Holiday Plans

 Do The Bus Stop

 Taxpayers to Fund Advertising Orgy

 Get Up Stands Up

 Andrews Provokes Showdown

 Thousands in Super Rort

 Constituents Don’t Trust Andrews

 Skill Shortage Fabricated

 Yanks Short Change Tradesmen

 Howard Steamroller Hits Building Sites

 CFMEU Bans Ferguson

 Activists Whats On!

 Back To The Past
 AFL-CIO Not The Only War
 Be Afraid
 Frame Up
 We Love Morris
 ANew Development
 A Readers Suggestion
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One Day Longer

Nathan Brown travels to the Boeing picket line and find a group of workers with a steely determination to stick together.


The engineers from Boeing have now been locked out for over two months. The battle for a collective agreement with the American aircraft giant has turned into a marathon with both sides refusing to give ground. It has been one of the symbols of the fight for fairness in the workplace.

The workers want the security of a collective agreement but Boeing wants them on dog-eats-dog individual contracts. It is a painful impasse, but the workers know what they are doing what is fundamentally right.

We arrived at the picket line after a day travelling through Newcastle. This is the town described as the microcosm of Australia. From its industrial days to the switch to service industries when the steelworks closed down, Newcastle has been Australia's bellwether - moving with the economy.

Pulling up at the Boeing picket line, just outside Newcastle Airport, the idea that Newcastle is a microcosm rings true. Here, on the outskirts of Newcastle, 42 aircraft maintenance engineers stand among signs which say "EBA or Here to Stay" and "Boeing Proud to be un-Australian". This is where choice is just a word.

When we came to Williamtown, five weeks into the picket, it was clear we had followed innumerable people before us. There are no smiles to greet you on the picket line, but the workers are glad you've come. "How ya goin'" is the greeting. Cars pass blowing their horns. They know the community supports them. They know they are doing the right thing.

The Boeing boys tell us their story. They tell us that individual contracts had been tried before and hadn't worked. They tell us how they worked on the F/A 18 jets that fly above and fly in Iraq. They tell us how the company refuses to talk to them. They tell us how the community does what they can to support them.

After some moments talking, everyone's attention turned to a nearby gum where a koala had made his home. The workers joked that he had come to join the picket. Perhaps he had. Perhaps he had come to remind people what country this was - a country talks about concepts like "mateship" and "a fair go" - things that seem to have gone missing for some people in the industrial relations debate.

As we left it was clear that the boys were frustrated by the situation, but also clear was their determination to get through it. They were not moving.

Driving out we passed the sign that summed up their attitude:

"One day longer than Boeing."


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