Hugh McDermott for Prospect


Pages tagged "trade unions"

O’Farrell Government’s Attacks and Cuts

Since taking office in March 2011, Barry O’Farrell and his Government have made a number of cuts to funding, jobs, workers’ rights and services. Here is an overview of what the workers of NSW have endured thus far.

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Media, unions and political parties seen as Australia’s most corrupt institutions

by Sunanda Creagh

The media, trade unions and political parties are seen as Australia’s most corrupt institutions but fewer than 1% of people have had recent direct experience of graft, a new poll shows.

The survey, titled Perceptions of corruption and ethical conduct and produced by the Australian National University’s Research School of Social Sciences, surveyed 2020 people aged 18 years and over by phone between August and September this year, with a response rate of 43%. The results were adjusted to represent the national population.

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What Future for ‘This Great Movement of Ours’?

by Martin Upchurch

Trade unions in Britain are at a watershed. This month’s public sector strike on November 30th, involves 3 million workers from 27 different unions. It follows the largest ever trade union organised demonstration held in March and the public sector strike of three quarters of a million workers in June. This wave of strikes and protests must be viewed from a wider perspective. The student demonstrations late last year, followed by the Arab Spring and then the Occupy Movement have given  union members confidence to take the plunge and vote to strike. Protest has returned.  In 2010, the number of strikes in Britain were the lowest since records begun, now the masses are taking part.

But do the strikes also mark a major change in the relationship between the unions and the Labour Party? In the post War period trade unions swam with the stream for thirty years. Full employment provided the opportunity for unions to expand their membership, notably in the public sector and among women. When membership peaked in 1979 at nearly 13 million, governments were willing to do business with the unions. Concessions were made to expand the welfare state so long as trade union leaders held back the wage demands of their rank-and-file.

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Decent Work 2.0

by Frank Hoffer

Last month, Juan Somavia, the long serving Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) announced his departure in 2012.

As head of the ILO, he introduced the Decent Work Agenda in 1999 to re-focus the ILO and make it relevant for the 21st century. Twelve years later, the concept of ‘Decent Work’ is firmly established in the global debate and as an objective of national policy. It appears in many documents of the multilateral system, the G20 and national policy fora. It generates millions of Google hits. It is the subject of much academic research and debate. It is enshrined in several ILO Conventions and Declarations, and the international trade union movement introduced the annual Decent Work Day to campaign for workers’ rights. ‘Decent Work’ is so ubiquitous in ILO documents that some cynics say: “Decent Work is the answer, whatever the question!”

Will Decent Work survive the departure of the Director-General who coined the term and so successfully marketed it? Should it survive? The answer to the former question is one of the unknowns of “Realpolitik”. The answer to the latter depends on the assessment of what Decent Work means and how it should evolve.

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3 key priorities for NSW Labor Policy Forum

by Hugh McDermott

On Monday, 17  October,  voting commences for the election of your 16 representatives on the  NSW Labor Policy Forum.    With your support, we can work together to rebuild NSW Labor by ensuring ALP policy is aligned with our strengths, values and beliefs.   If elected, I will pursue 3 key priorities:

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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.

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