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Year End 2006   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Terminator
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson looks back on the highs and lows of a year when the battle lines were drawn.

Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Jim Marr glances back through a year of news and discovers plenty of reason for optimism…

Unions: Breaking News
The web offered new ways of covering unions issues. Here’s ten ways Workers Online tried to do things differently.

History: Seven Deadly Sins
Looking back on our annual year-ender editorials gives a nice overview of the journey we have taken.

Economics: Back to the Future
Political economist Frank Stilwell looks back at a year that saw the passing of the drivers of two strains of economic thought.

Politics: Organising and Organisations
Organising for unionists can mean overcoming the “union”. The “rolling of the right” by the BLF rank and file shows the power of workers united to defeat the power of bosses and certain union bosses.

International: Web Retrospective
Unions and the web – What's changed in the last seven years? The short answer is – everything and nothing, wrties Eric Lee

Review: Shock Therapy
Unreconstructed Kazakhi journalist Borat is unleashed on the ‘US and A’ offending everyone – except the bigots.

C O L U M N S

The Future
So Where to Now?
Amanda Tattersall outlines her plans for Working NSW and the challenge of connecting research, communications and campaigning.

Obituary
Gone But Not Forgotten
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1915-2006). His memory is still being honoured, writes Jim Marr

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite politician bids adieu and hangs up his chestnuts.

E D I T O R I A L

The End
In vintage Workers Online fashion we have detected a minor, but telling, factual error in last week’s missive/suicide note. It’s not a seven year itch – this is, in fact, the end of an eight year project.

N E W S

 High Flyers Go For Gold

 Hospital Staff Prescribe Radical Surgery

 Holland Goes Dutch on Safety

 New Thinking to Transport Sydney

 Check Mate - Track Your Personal Info

 WorkChoices on a Trolley

 See No Evil, OEA

 Feltex Carpets PM's Fibs

 Workers Blood on the Walls

 Lift For Unfair Dismissal Campaign

 No Discrimination on Choice

 Vanstone Opens New Meat Market

 Activists' Notebook

L E T T E R S
 Hit For Six
 Kind Words
 Sorely Missed
 All the Best
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Breaking News


The web offered new ways of covering unions issues. Here’s ten ways Workers Online tried to do things differently.

Virtual Takeover - We saw a pup when the Steve Vizard-owned Virtual Communities hatched a plan market and sell home computers to union members in 1999. Through editorials and news stories we led the charge to question the deal, particularly the AOL-style portal that locked users into VC content. Time vindicated our stance with unions walking away, the ACTU website folding and the key backer answering insider trading claims on unrelated business dealings. http://workers.labor.net.au/27/news3_vizard.html

The People Versus Piers Our original marketing ploy was to create a war with Piers Akerman and force him to publicise our existence., This worked for the first two years of production until it became too much to reads the bile. In that time we ran a number of theories - that Piers was an enter-ist, that Piers was a post-modernist, that Piers provided Sueharto with his daily dose of fibre. But the one that hit p[ay-dirt was our Larry Flynnt inspired cash incentive to bring criminal charges against the toad. This led to a string of right-wing columnists accusing me and this publications of being enemies of free speech, the 15 minutes of fame that did more to our circulation than any union yarn. http://workers.labor.net.au/11/d_pierswatch_piers11.html

Talking to the Enemy - One of our driving ideas was to open up debate in the union movement and e put that into practise by interviewing Howard IR ministers, Reith and Abbott. Both were happy to participate and match wits - Reith calling for the ACTU president to be popularly elected; Abbott confessing to having led strike action during his time at the Bulletin. Along the way we learned they had only a sketchy understanding of the real debates within the movement and were more driven by tired Cold War dogma. It is a sign of the changing times that Kevin Andrews has rejected all such invitations.

Read the interviews at: http://workers.labor.net.au/38/a_interview_peter.html

http://workers.labor.net.au/85/a_interview_monk.html

Unions Dudes - When OneTel went belly up in 2001 a whole new generation of workers went looking for protection, albeit after the event. The CPSSU fought hard to win back redundancy entitlements for the OneTel dudes, but the battle focussed attention on a new generation of foot-loose IT workers who were more vulnerable than they thought. In response we launched the IT Workers Alliance site in October 2001, basically a series of discussion boards which, for a time worked as an organising tool as unions gained a toe-hold in the sector.

Before They Were Sexy Long before James Hardies' shame in shifting risk off-shore became a matter of national shame, Workers Online was warning of the sham. As early as October 2003, Paul Bastian was warning the scheme would leave victims without access to compensation; although it would take more than 12 months for the mass media to catch on to the biggest corporate scandal in Australian history.

Watching the Bosses - In 2002 we embarked on an ill-fated journey to chart the faceless backers of our major corporations. The BossWatch website deployed a complex database that would allow one to cross-reference information from annual reports. Only problem was that what it discovered was that the big owners were private holdings and pension funds, that owed hunks of everyone and everything. In other words us - we had control all along. http://www.bosswatch.labor.net.au

Covering Cole - As the Cole Royal Commission into the building and construction industry spent large swathes of taxpayer money attempting to lift the lid on corruption in the industry, Workers Online journalist Jim Marr got an uneasy feeling. Dig as they might, there was nothing there. Through a series of features for WOL, Jim constructed a legal world that seemed to fit more closely with Lewis Carrol. Those features became the basis of a book 'First, the verdict" commissioned by the CFMEU and launched by Alan Jones in one of the best pro-worker speeches we ever published. http://workers.labor.net.au/features/200303/a_guestreporter_jones.html

The Battle of Macquarie Street - The most dramatic showdown Workers Online covered was the 2001 picket of Macquarie Street, when Labor MPs were blocked entry to Parliament ahead of a vote to strip workers compensation rights. While Carr and Egan ferreted their way into the house through a secret tunnel, the rest of the government was escorted after police on horseback reneged on an agreed peaceful protocol to bust the picket. It was the end point of an intense cyber campaign, culminating in the famous 'Della's List' -View the archived campaign page at www.labor.net.au/compo1

Joy To the Workers - Over the years Workers Online became a place of record for the border movement - labour historians in particular contributed. One, Rowan Cahill, produced a book from a series of missives sent during the long-running joy Manufacturing dispute through 2000, a sort of living history on the run. It wasn't our work, but we're proud of providing the momentum.

Spreading the WorkChoices' Word As EMC has moved into producing union journals, we have syndicated the Workers Online news into hard copy. As the Rights at Work campaign has gathered steam., these stories, have been shared across the movement The circle from hard copy to virtual is now complete.

And the One Big Miss - With the big ideas came failures too - and we are not ashamed of them. Anyone who wants to see documented over-reaching should reflect on 'E-Change' - the poorly executed e-book I compiled with Michael Gadiel during 2001. Pure gibber.

Our Lasting Legacy? Go to Google; type in anything vaguely related to industrial relations and chances are you'll hit on workers Online,.


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URL: http://workers.labor.net.au/features/200613/b_tradeunion_best.html
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2006

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