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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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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.

Following the attacks he attended the vigil in Trafalgar Square that was partly sponsored by the Trades Union Council.

What, then, to say?

I attended the vigil in Trafalgar Square last Thursday, to seek closure for myself in relation to the bombings. That was a success; I'm now well over it, although I remain conscious that others in London will not be able to be so for a long, long time.

I also feel very safe, and not at all worried about leaving from Heathrow Airport nor, what would ordinarily be of more concern, catching the train to Heathrow from Paddington.

Until the vigil, I had not yet encountered anyone in Britain who mentioned in any way that they were members of an industrial union of workers. It seems the bombers had found not only union members, but active and radical ones. What an inspiration, to discover there is some union coverage here!

Individual transport and emergency services workers, and leaders of their unions, received enthusiastic welcomes, but the president of the Trade Unions Council (equivalent to the ACTU) was not so warmly received, for some reason unknown to me. One of the most memorable extracts described how the union delegate at the Stratford bus depot, from where the Number 30 operates, insisted they drive the first Number 30 out on Friday morning.

However, among the many speakers were some I didn't know, and a few I wondered why they were there. One gentleman in particular intrigued me; he was introduced as a landscape designer, and he introduced himself, to a loud cheer, as a person born in London 41 years ago but who left at age 5 and grew up in Ireland; "an Irish-Londoner". I looked around for where I could join the queue, to recite a verse or two of John Williamson's "Hey True Blue", or sing a song about a sheep-thief, or whatever.

Many speakers read out poetry, which was nice. Throughout the speeches of the many who made them emerged the themes of the spirit of the blitz, this has brought us together, we won't be beaten, this was an attack on our way of life and values, (we shouldn't turn on each other), etc. That's all well and good. There were also some themes along the lines of London being the whole world in one city, how London it was to unite in defiance against adversity, and even how great are our way of life and values. As an Australian-Londoner, born here 41 years ago but an Australian since age 5, allow me to retort.

It would be trite to remark that London is not the only multicultural city in town, and that any community unites in the face of adversity, but what is so great about our way of life and values? They're pretty good, I'll grant that, but nowhere near great; definitely needing improvement generally, but London has some real problems that need attention.

In short, Australians have much to fear from the new era of unrestrained Thatcherism that has started to afflict us, if the social cost of its aftermath here is any guide.


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