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March 2006   

Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Workers Online speaks to the ACTU's Union Organiser of the Year, Greg Harvey from the RTBU, who has been using cutting edge ways to communicate with a blue-collar workforce spread across five states.

Industrial: How Low Is Low
Neale Towart looks at the much hyped link between minimum wages and employment

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Govwernment has begun rolling out workshops to inform employers on how to use WorkChoices. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Bad Medicine
Nathan Brown reports on how Australia Post’s dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameron’s demise may be premature

Economics: Long Division
Kenneth Davidson looks at a successful political strategy

International: Union Proud
A University of California librarian calls for union labels to increase worker visibility

Politics: Howard’s Sick Joke
Phil Doyle looks at an attack on one of the great achievements of the union movement

Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
That mob in parliament house seems to be hopelessly out of touch with Indigenous Australia. So much so, that Graham Ring wonders if the House on the Hill is becoming a ‘cultural museum’.

Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.

Culture: News Front
If the owners are selling off papers, perhaps the unions should buy them says Mark Dobbie.


The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Henderson’s unique take on history

Westie Wing
Will Westie's Wings be clipped, or will the Hills Angels repent and deliver?

The Locker Room
The Heart Of The Matter
Phil Doyle rolls up the red carpet and celebrates the death of an old foe


Home Truths
The truth has been breaking out in all sorts of strange places this week.


 Wipeout: Minchin Surfs New Wave

 Scoop-idity: How The Truth Was Nicked

 Howard's Bastard Under Lock and Key

 Bank Shops Skilled Workers

 Debnam Dogs on Libs

 Jacko: "I'm Bad"

 Computer Strike Could Crash System

 Builders' Cleavage Strikes Gold

 Andrews Cops Legal Buffeting

 Brough Love for Women

 CFMEU Aids Escape

 Hunt on for Asbestos Crims

 Unions Counsel Queen

 Guests Get Pizza Topping

 Download a Pollie

 Activist's What's On!

 Howard, My Part In His Downfall
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Lights, Camera, Strike!

Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.


Like a lot of folk, I likes to kick back on the lounge and enjoy a good flick sans commercials, and, to this end I�ve always fancied myself as something of a film buff.

Over summer I hit upon the novel idea of combining my love of sitting on my fat posterior with my proud commitment to organised labour and set out to track down what I consider to be the ten greatest union films of all time.

No doubt this list will prove to be controversial, and some would include other films, and disregard some on this list. Such opinions are valid and should be directed to the front bar of the Railway Hotel, as this list is far from exhaustive or objective.

The Honourable Wally Norman scrapes in at tenth spot, not because it is a particularly good film, but because it�s Australian. It also features a cameo by H.G. Nelson whose picturesque visage should anoint the silver screen more often; he gives other blokes hope. Simply put, it is the tale of a meatworker who accidentally finds himself elected to parliament. A harmless fantasy in an age that spews out Malcolm Turnbull.

I came across ninth placed The Organizer on SBS when the cricket in Adelaide was washed out. Its in Italian and set around the turn of the Century in Northern Italy, with a charming story about a lefty university professor forced to put his ratbag politics into practice after he gets sacked from the uni and takes a job teaching in a mill town, probably the best romance union movie ever made.

Sylvester Stallone is out of character as a Teamster�s union boss in eighth placed F.I.S.T. Sometimes controversial, it purports to tell the story of the teamster�s from Jimmy Hoffa�s point of view. Some excellent action shots from the re-enacted thirties picket lines.

Gerard Depardieu stars in the French classic Germinal in seventh place, an adaptation from what is apparently a great book by some bloke called Zola. The French sure know how to do a film, and they know how to strike. This film combines those two talents wonderfully.

Our sixth placed film can be hard to find, but is well worth the search. Brother John tells of the secret life of cleaners and was made by Sidney Poitier, famous for Uptown Saturday Night and To Sir With Love.

Some might be surprised to see this famous film coming in fifth, but it�s still a quality film. Sally Field is very touching as Norma Rae, the single mum who helps unionise a southern textile factory. Slipped a few places for the mawkish Hollywood love plot and can be a bit dated.

Hardly the most politically correct film, but a great belly laugh as Peter Sellers brings the laughs thick and fast in the fourth placed I�m All Right Jack. Every union stereotype in the book is explored here in a very witty film about a workplace long gone these days.

Our third placed film, Matewan, is a modern classic that can still be found in many video stores. This amazing film tells the story of the unionisation of a Kentucky coalmine through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old miner. James Earl Jones, who was famous for being the voice of Darth Vader is among the many great performances in a film famous for many lines, including �any union that keeps a man out because of the colour of his skin aint a union, it�s a goddam club�.

Richard Lowenstein�s Strikebound comes in at second with a lively tale of Victorian coalminer�s strike. The soundtrack by INXS provides a bouncy background to a story at once humorous and tragic.

And at number one, the immortal Silkwood features Meryl Streep at her best as she plays union rep Karen Silkwood, in a fictionalised account of her disappearance after coming to prominence as a whistleblower in a corrupt US Power Plant, the support cast, which includes Cher, and the fact that there are sparkies in it, make this a very uplifting film.

Mandrake the Electrician.


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