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April 2006   

Interview: Head On
John Buchanan has been warning that WorkChoices would be a car crash. Now he surveys the damage.

Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
CFMEU Mining national secretary Tony Maher lets fly at the new industrial laws.

Industrial: Vital Signs
In his new book, Craig Emerson argues that destroying unionism will not be in Australia's long term interests.

Economics: Taxing Times
Frank Stilwell argues that there are progressive alternatives to the slash and burn approach to tax reform.

Environment: It Ainít Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourneís Hours
Neale Towart reluctantly pays homage to Victoria's celebration of the eight hour day.

Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
John Howard is deciding more and more foreign workers should come into this country - without the rights of citizenship, writes John Sutton,

Review: Pollie Fiction
For someone barely 25 years Sarah Doyle has an enviable track record in theatre behind her.

Poetry: The Cabal
Poetry returns to Workers Online with this rollicking ode to employer power.


Democracy in Action
Former NSW Premier Neville Wran's speech to commemorate 150 years of responsible government.

The Westie Wing
There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Soapbox
From Chaver to Cobber
John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

Postcard from New Orleans
Mark Brenner surveys the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina on the regions workers.

The Locker Room
My Country Right Or In Lane Five
Phil Doyle observes the golden shower at the recent Commonwealth Games, and asks what it means for the last great unpredictable drama.

Vale Bill Hartley
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill Hartley never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets, writes Bob Scates.


The Cowra Clause
The plight of the Cowra meatworkers is a fitting illustration of the way the new industrial laws will fundamentally shift the balance of relations in the Australian workplace.


 Abattoir Boss Slaughters Andrews

 More Slaughter in South Australia

 Pickets Won't Face Cannon

 Teens Win Thousands

 Praise the Laws

 Where The Bloody Hell Is Our Contract?

 Building Crusade Raids Pockets

 Workers Shows Its Hand

 It's All Yellow, Mine Barons

 Lismore Nine Breaks Ranks

 Uber Bosses Clean Up

 Howard's Skills Solution: Sack Apprentices

 Spineless Companies Block Safety

 Boxall in Sickie Backflip

 Activist's What's On!

 Crap TV
 Social Action
 French revolution
 Fan Mail
 Belly Spreads The Word
 All Out!
 Lying Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
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The Soapbox

From Chaver to Cobber

John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

This Monday - in the Sydney Trades Hall - Unions NSW will co-host, with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, for the first time ever an Australian Labour Union Passover.

John Robertson explains why this night will be different from every other night.

Well that's the traditional and key question asked at Passover tables across the globe.

Why is this night different from every other night?

It is a question which has been asked for millennia around tables in Jewish homes when families come together to celebrate Passover.

At Passover tables across Australia I hope members of the Jewish community will this week consider that this night is different from every other night because :

- We must all think about how best to maintain the Australian tradition of social and community support for workplace decency;

- The lessons of Exodus are relevant beyond their exclamation of freedom from slavery. The Passover story is all about the building of community coalitions to achieve social justice, and a recognition that an Australia that is truly committed to a fair go is one where the poor and the oppressed have rights equal to the most powerful in our land.

The African-American civil rights struggle looked to the Passover story as the symbol for their own struggle in the USA.

So I was not shocked to hear that Rev Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated just as he was about to lead a march of unionised garbage workers, had planned the very next day to join the great Abraham Joshua Heschel at his Passover table.

Rabbi Heschel, a refugee from Hitler's Europe and Dr. King both used Exodus imagery when writing and speaking about civil rights - especially worker rights.

They marched arm-in-arm to defend both civil rights and workers' rights.

To Heschel fighting for the rights of others was simply an extension of Jewish traditional values.

Like Moses, Heschel became a great leader because he recognised injustice and he had the courage and the fortitude to speak up.

Let us hope that in the years to come union leaders and Jewish leaders in this country will come together to oppose injustice and to speak up in the best traditions of both the Jewish community and the Union community.

I am told that the tradition on Passover is not only to re-tell the story of Exodus - but to read into this story new meanings.

The first big collective agreement won by Moses the union organiser

So in that spirit let me take the opportunity to read into the Passover story new meanings for Moses - to see Moses as maybe the first great union organiser.

Moses the union organiser:

- rallied the slaves to campaign for their rights.

- negotiated the 1st great collective agreement. In fact his members, at one time, told him to go back up the mountain after they rejected the first offer of a collective agreement.

- got the first big breakthrough regulating the hours of work with one day off a week: a time for family, recreation and reflection - the Sabbath day.

Our Jewish cobbers

Finally can I please thank the Jewish community in Australia for one important input into our Aussie tradition of mateship - one that is not often recognised.

It is the expression in the now under-utilised Aussie vernacular - a Cobber.

It seems - according to some academics - that this word probably snuck into our slang thanks to an East London Jewish convict sent to Tasmania, who used the Yiddish/Hebrew word for a mate, a pal, a comrade - Chaver.( Pronounced Haver or Haber )

Corrupted it became Cobber - which is the essence of Aussie mateship and comradeship - and a central part of the ethos of unionism.

So at this time of year I would like to thank our Chavers/Cobbers in the Jewish community for their on-going support for social justice.


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