Category: Trade Unions

Not a Party of Protest. Not a Party of Slogans.

by Bob Carr


Last night I was honoured to address the Marrickville State Electoral Council of the Australian Labor Party. Good crowd, also attended by Carmel Tebbutt, the local heroine who held the seat against the Green Party threat at the last state elections in March.

I told them there were things the Labor party could do that the Green Party could never do. The best example was the 16 year record of nature conservation in New South Wales. It took a Labor government to negotiate deals with the timber mills, the timber workers and the union that paved the way for saving the South East Forest, the hundred extra parks between Nowra and the Bega Valley, the saving of the forest icons of the north coast and the saving of the Pilliga. The Green Party could mount protests and take up these causes, and they are very fine causes. But it took a Labor government to make the big industrial reform decisions that restructured forestry and enable the massive conservation gains to occur. The serious policy making fell to us.

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Why Should Rioting Young People Listen to the Elites and Mind a Social Order that Disempowers Them?


by Michelle Chen

There’s no simple explanation for the uprising in London and several other UK cities in the last week. But the riots mirror the state of working-class Britain.


After witnessing several nights of turmoil, the people of the United Kingdom are still trying to comprehend what just happened. There’s no simple explanation for this apparently leaderless and rudderless uprising in London and several other cities. But amid the grim ashes and street clashes, the message of rage has seared itself into the public consciousness, rekindling an age-old tinderbox of class warfare.

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Building Progressive Alliances

by Asbjørn Wahl

The social conflict in Europe has intensified strongly over the past couple of years, in the wake of the financial crisis. The labour and trade union movement has been on the defensive ever since the neoliberal offensive started around 1980. The balance of power in our societies has thus shifted enormously over the past 30 years – from labour to capital, from democracy to market forces. Time is ripe, therefore, to fight back, to build broad social alliances and to reassess our strategies and tactics.

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The Party Paradox

By Rene Cuperus

There are two tales about party politics. In the first, political parties are moribund, if not on their last legs. Parties are said to have been in crisis or decline for decades and are believed to have lost virtually all their functions to the courts, the bureaucracy, the media, or powerful social organizations. Parties supposedly no longer matter in actual agenda setting and policy making. They have become marginal institutions. Following the de-ideologization and the rise of the floating voter, parties no longer stand for anything or anybody. Nor do they provide principled politicians or edifying programmes and innovative political ideas. The party is over: consider the ongoing decline in voter turnout, diminishing party loyalty, the declining membership, the loss of ideological identity, and the decreasing social concern among parties and their representatives. The social, electoral, and ideological weakening of parties suggests that the concrete pillars of democracy are crumbling. At best, parties continue to function as campaign organizations and become empty shells, driven purely by mediagenic party leaders and mediagenic ideas.

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Flying a rebel flag to ensure all are given a fair go

by Paul Howes

THE bulk of the Australian population now sits among the most highly urbanised on the globe, concentrated in booming and cosmopolitan cities along our coastlines. But even today, just as it did more than 100 years ago, our country still lives off the massive profits delivered by resource-rich industries scattered across the outback.

And even today, it’s the Australian Workers Union’s members who, just as they did in our early years, still work at the heart of these important regional communities. Back then, Australia lived off the sheep’s back. Today, the average AWU member digs our wealth up out of the soil, or pumps it up from the seabed.

On Thursday the AWU marked its 125th year of existence. Although life was first breathed into the union on June 16, 1886, at Fern’s Hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, the heart and soul of the AWU has always been in Queensland, at the site of the great shearers’ strike of 1891 in Barcaldine.

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