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Relevance of unions in question despite the ACTU victory over CRA in the Weipa mine dispute -

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JIM WALEY: It was a little surreal - Bob Hawke back in the Industrial Relations Commission fighting for the survival of the union movement and emerging to announce victory for collective bargaining over CRA's preference for its workers to enter individual staff contracts. But the victory could be more symbolic than real. CRA is sticking to its belief that staff work better than those the company calls 'wage slaves'. This morning, CRA's boss, Leon Davis, breaks his silence for the first time since the dispute began, declaring his determination to continue the fight. And in many work places employees are quitting their unions in droves, sapping the strength of the ACTU. Was this the union's last stand? Our report is by Sunday's Ross Coulthart.

ROSS COULTHART:Another day in the long running dispute at Weipa in far north Queensland. If you believe the militant rhetoric coming from the mouths of union leaders last week, Weipa is the line in the sand, the last stand against a maverick company that's out to bust the unions.

UNIDENTIFIED: The only language this company understands is monosyllables and paying is going to be the name of the game.

JENNIE GEORGE: CRA is a notorious anti-worker, anti-union company which has consciously pursued a strategy of de- -unionising the Australian work force.

ROSS COULTHART: It was back to the language of confrontation, the attitude of them and us. Nothing evoked the bad old days of 70s industrial turmoil more than the return of the old war horse himself: Bob Hawke striding into the Industrial Commission, surrounded by a phalanx of union muscle. In a humiliating rebuff to the Prime Minister, ACTU Secretary, Bill Kelty, asked Mr Hawke to lead the court battle against CRA's policy of individual contract. It was a master stroke, with the Labor hero playing to the crowd and the cameras as much as to the court.

BOB HAWKE: The important thing now is that the company realises that the theological crap that they have been trying to propound against fundamental principles of our society, they've been ruled out on that.

ROSS COULTHART: When the working class hero emerged from the court claiming a major victory against CRA this week, it was the boss-basher of years past. Even the tears were familiar.

BOB HAWKE: ... and I'd also like to thank my wife, Blanche, for being there at my side all the time.

ROSS COULTHART:But, as you'll see in today's story, this was probably a victory more of style over substance. Any victory here in the Commission may yet prove to be a hollow one. Beyond the obvious injustice done to the 72 striking workers, the real story behind Weipa is why thousands of CRA workers have given up on a union movement they no longer see as relevant.

LYNETTE OLSEN: I took the decision, myself, to sign because I think the unions are on the way out.

ROSS COULTHART: Lynette Olsen typifies the overwhelming majority of Weipa workers who have signed contracts with CRA to go on staff. She can stay in a union if she wants; even get advice from them on her contract before signing. What CRA asks is that the deal is done with them directly and without the involvement of a third party like a union.

LYNETTE OLSEN: If I was in the union they wouldn't recognise my efforts, and at least with the salary review you can do your job, if they can see that you are performing, and you should be able to get remunerated for that.

ROSS COULTHART:Weipa is a contest for the trust of workers. It's being waged largely between two men who both have solid Labor credentials. In one corner CFMEU boss, John Maitland, who admits bloody turf wars between his union and the AWU have left workers disillusioned.

JOHN MAITLAND: I think it's been unfortunate. We've burnt up a lot of resources which I think could have been used for the fundamental issues out there - looking after people's rights and wages and conditions, et cetera.

ROSS COULTHART: And 35 storeys up, in Melbourne's Collins Street, Leon Davis, the man at the helm of mining giant CRA. He was once a member of the very union many unionists feel has failed workers at Weipa, the AWU.

LEON DAVIS: I was a member of the AWU for two years. I worked as a labourer in Port Pirie in the plant. I have been a member of the staff and I can understand why people see that staff conditions are better. People worked better, had better productivity, than people who worked under award conditions. Now, I don't know the reasons for that but it's there, and when people in recent times transferred from award conditions to staff conditions, again, there was this instantaneous almost improvement in their work output.

ROSS COULTHART: Leon Davis is from a family with a strong Labor history. Both his grandfathers were Labor politicians. In today's exclusive interview with Sunday he defends the management policy behind individual contracts.

Bob Hawke described the management philosophy that's driving your policy as theological crap. What's your response to that?



LEON DAVIS: Well it's neither theology, nor it's crap. It's hard-headed business practice and it's part of continuous improvement. In any business we operate in Australia, we have to challenge the status quo, we have to look at sacred cows because unless we do we are going to fall behind in the competitive stakes.

ROSS COULTHART: Are you anti-union?

LEON DAVIS: Not at all, no. And that's the real problem with this debate. It's degenerated into trying to portray CRA as anti-union, and we're not.

JOHN MAITLAND: One has to be suspicious of that because our organisation has indicated that we have no problem in any employer seeking to get their employees committed to the company and we're prepared to deal and cooperate with it.

ROSS COULTHART: CRA did make a foolish mistake at Weipa. It couldn't justify the gap in pay between award workers and staff workers doing the same job.

UNIDENTIFIED: I made $32,000 last year, gross. My best mate who drives the same truck as me, he took home $52,000.

ROSS COULTHART: The unions were able to argue convincingly that CRA was discriminating against those unionists who wanted to collectively bargain.

UNIDENTIFIED: Where I work, bar one, I've trained up everyone and the people in my crew and I'm probably the lowest paid.

ROSS COULTHART: Under cross-examination by Mr Hawke, CRA conceded that union members were treated unfairly at Weipa, earning an average of $7,000 less than those on contract, often for the same work. It's a mistake CRA's boss admits should never have happened.

LEON DAVIS: There's two sides to this and there are two players in this. We've been dilatory and I think the other party has been too. Bear in mind, the unions could have applied for an increase in this award just as much as we could have. They didn't do that either. But we do value award people just as much as we do value staff people and we should have, if the unions weren't going to do it, we should have done it, and I think we made a mistake there.

ROSS COULTHART: Do you think that you may have been a little too heavy-handed?

LEON DAVIS: It's always anathema to me to have writs out against our own employees. I don't think that's a good way to win the hearts and minds of our people.

ROSS COULTHART:Although Weipa may be just a hiccup in the company's four-year-old campaign for staff contracts, the unions see next week's industrial commission decision as vital to the future of the union movement.

JENNIE GEORGE: Well, we started to win the hearts and minds of Weipa because of the very unequal position that we were in.

ROSS COULTHART: It's not just Weipa. It's also Hamersley. It's also a whole range of Comalco and CRA sites.

JENNIE GEORGE:I think the best answer would be to that: in a year's time, you come back and when we've established the level playing field, how many will in fact sacrifice the contracts and come back under the award arrangement?

ROSS COULTHART: The unions see this court battle with CRA as the beginning of their fight to win back the thousands of CRA workers who've chosen to go onto individual contracts. The unions hope that if they can win equal pay for their striking Weipa workers, then thousands of CRA workers on contracts will come flocking back to the union in their droves. But CRA doesn't really care if it wins or loses here next week because they believe that in the battle for the hearts and minds of workers they've already won.

If you lose the Weipa case, is this the end of CRA's attempts to install individual contracts?

LEON DAVIS: No. I don't think it is because we still want to work within the industrial relations system, within the Act, to bring in staff contracts because we think this is so important.

ROSS COULTHART: Many unionists are privately scathing about the principal union on site at Weipa, the Australian Workers Union, or AWU. In the early days of the strike, a ballot was held to see which union workers preferred. The overwhelming vote was for the miners's union - John Maitland's CFMEU. Nobody voted for the AWU.

PAUL HOULIHAN: To call it a scrap between the AWU and what is now the CFMEU is masterly understatement, it really is.

ROSS COULTHART: Industrial relations consultant, Paul Houlihan, says the union power struggle at Weipa made the unions their own worst enemy.

PAUL HOULIHAN: There is a very vibrant hatred between those organisations. Don't worry about bosses. Bosses are gentlemen and scholars compared to each of those unions. The relationship has been poisonous, is poisonous, and I don't see the results of this week. I don't even think Marcel Marceau is going to be able to pour balm on that one. He couldn't do it when he was president of the ACTU, and it's been going well back beyond his time there.

ROSS COULTHART: Even though the CFMEU has no award coverage at Weipa, the strikers make no secret of their allegiance. Privately, most have nothing but contempt for the AWU's State Secretary Bill Ludwig. The best he could do for them was fly to a mining union conference in Washington to ask for support.

JOHN MAITLAND: If you ask the workers up there about us, you'd probably find that's different. They've said we didn't take our eye off the ball; we've been the ones who've really been responsible, along with the maritime unions, for solving this issue.

ROSS COULTHART: So you think the AWU failed in its job for the workers?

JOHN MAITLAND: I don't like to publicly criticise other unions but that's part of what's been speculated around.

ROSS COULTHART: The great untold story about the super-union power struggle is that as a consequence of these battles some unions are selling their members' award conditions down the river to win the favour of employers.

PAUL HOULIHAN: You'll see both sides there with their hands on their hearts, testifying that this complies with all the principles and this does all these wonderful things before the commission, knowing full well that you could literally drive a truck through it.

ROSS COULTHART: Do you sometimes play unions off against each other so that you can win....

-

PAUL HOULIHAN: Perish the thought. Perish the thought that such wickedness could be .. of course we do. It's the business we're in.

JOHN MAITLAND: Some employers have used the courts, and that particular section of the Industrial Relations Act, to remove militant unions and they end up with compliant unions, and then compliant unions aren't able to defend those fundamental rights such as the ones in Weipa from strategies - well-planned strategies - by huge multinational companies like CRA.

ROSS COULTHART: What you are saying is that the AWU was a compliant union.

JOHN MAITLAND: Again, I don't like making public comment about it. I think....

ROSS COULTHART: But that's the inference, isn't it?

JOHN MAITLAND: Well, we should leave people to judge that themselves.

ROSS COULTHART: The AWU has been the main union at every site where CRA's won the individual contracts battle. Now, Jennie George is giving unions that can't keep their members just one year to clean up their act.

JENNIE GEORGE: We've got to put some unions on notice that constitutional coverage cannot for ever be your only defence. If you use that coverage and then do nothing to go out and recruit and service the members that you are there to represent.

ROSS COULTHART: Three years ago, Sunday toured Australia with then Industrial Relations Minister, Senator Peter Cook, reporting on the widespread optimism about a new era of industrial harmony, achieved collectively through enterprise bargaining.



BOB JOHNSTON: I think there was a realisation, a dawning in Australia by everybody - management, the unions, government, that we had to change our ways. I think the unions recognise that without reform there weren't going to be any jobs.

ROSS COULTHART: Even then, the rank and file were demanding the ACTU do something about moves to cut unions out of the deal. It's taken three years for the ACTU to respond.

Do you admit that the unions took their eye off the ball with individual contracts?

JENNIE GEORGE: Yes. I think we let it get away. As I said earlier, had we intervened earlier it might not have had the consequence that we are now seeing.

ROSS COULTHART:Another casualty in this dispute was the friendship between Paul Keating and the man he'd previously thought of as one of his closest friends, ACTU secretary, Bill Kelty. First, the Prime Minister declared industrial peace before lunch time as he flew out to Osaka.

PAUL KEATING:I'm optimistic that we might be able to tidy it up by midday or thereabouts.

ROSS COULTHART: But Mr Keating had jumped the gun, failing to nail down a deal with Comalco's Terry Palmer before he made his announcement.

LEON DAVIS: Terry Palmer said he had a couple of problems with it and let's talk about it the next day. Now, he thought the problems were fairly minor and when he and I spoke about them and the amendments we wanted in it, they did seem pretty minor. Unfortunately, when we got into negotiations with the ACTU, they were fairly major problems for them. And then the four points expanded to six, and then later on, in the evening or the next day, those six points expanded to nine, and it was a bit like the Triffids - we'd cut one off and two would grow in its place.

ROSS COULTHART: The unions say you guys ratted on the deal.

LEON DAVIS: Well, we didn't. Nobody, nobody asked our opinion on the deal. Nobody did.

ROSS COULTHART: Including the Prime Minister?

LEON DAVIS: Yes.

ROSS COULTHART: The appointment of former Prime Minister Hawke was also a humiliating snub for the PM. It swept his APEC trade win off the front page.

JENNIE GEORGE:Well, I regret that Mr Keating made a judgment that the dispute would be resolved early on the basis of the discussions we'd had with the company.

ROSS COULTHART: Hasn't it backfired for you?

JENNIE GEORGE: No. Look, my primary obligation .. I mean the ACTU is not an arm of government. The ACTU is there to represent workers.

JOHN MAITLAND: The ACTU sees its own survival as more important than any political party. So I think it's a very clear message that Bill Kelty will defend the trade union movement regardless of the consequences for anyone.

ROSS COULTHART: Are we about to see a new militancy in our trade union movement?

JOHN MAITLAND: I think there are a lot of workers out there who are calling for it.

ROSS COULTHART: The last thing Australian companies want is a return to the industrial militancy of the past. But there are many who are waiting to see if CRA can win the war it denies it's fighting with the unions.

LEON DAVIS: I think the union movement has served this country very well in the past. Like every other organisation, they have to look at how they're going to restructure for the future. And, just as we're looking at how we're going to restructure for the future, so does every other organisation.

JIM WALEY: Sunday's Ross Coulthart with that report.
JIM WALEY: It was a little surreal - Bob Hawke back in the Industrial Relations Commission fighting for the survival of the union movement and emerging to announce victory for collective bargaining over CRA's preference for its workers to enter individual staff contracts. But the victory could be more symbolic than real. CRA is sticking to its belief that staff work better than those the company calls 'wage slaves'. This morning, CRA's boss, Leon Davis, breaks his silence for the first time since the dispute began, declaring his determination to continue the fight. And in many work places employees are quitting their unions in droves, sapping the strength of the ACTU. Was this the union's last stand? Our report is by Sunday's Ross Coulthart.

ROSS COULTHART:Another day in the long running dispute at Weipa in far north Queensland. If you believe the militant rhetoric coming from the mouths of union leaders last week, Weipa is the line in the sand, the last stand against a maverick company that's out to bust the unions.

UNIDENTIFIED: The only language this company understands is monosyllables and paying is going to be the name of the game.

JENNIE GEORGE: CRA is a notorious anti-worker, anti-union company which has consciously pursued a strategy of de- -unionising the Australian work force.

ROSS COULTHART: It was back to the language of confrontation, the attitude of them and us. Nothing evoked the bad old days of 70s industrial turmoil more than the return of the old war horse himself: Bob Hawke striding into the Industrial Commission, surrounded by a phalanx of union muscle. In a humiliating rebuff to the Prime Minister, ACTU Secretary, Bill Kelty, asked Mr Hawke to lead the court battle against CRA's policy of individual contract. It was a master stroke, with the Labor hero playing to the crowd and the cameras as much as to the court.

BOB HAWKE: The important thing now is that the company realises that the theological crap that they have been trying to propound against fundamental principles of our society, they've been ruled out on that.

ROSS COULTHART: When the working class hero emerged from the court claiming a major victory against CRA this week, it was the boss-basher of years past. Even the tears were familiar.

BOB HAWKE: ... and I'd also like to thank my wife, Blanche, for being there at my side all the time.

ROSS COULTHART:But, as you'll see in today's story, this was probably a victory more of style over substance. Any victory here in the Commission may yet prove to be a hollow one. Beyond the obvious injustice done to the 72 striking workers, the real story behind Weipa is why thousands of CRA workers have given up on a union movement they no longer see as relevant.

LYNETTE OLSEN: I took the decision, myself, to sign because I think the unions are on the way out.

ROSS COULTHART: Lynette Olsen typifies the overwhelming majority of Weipa workers who have signed contracts with CRA to go on staff. She can stay in a union if she wants; even get advice from them on her contract before signing. What CRA asks is that the deal is done with them directly and without the involvement of a third party like a union.

LYNETTE OLSEN: If I was in the union they wouldn't recognise my efforts, and at least with the salary review you can do your job, if they can see that you are performing, and you should be able to get remunerated for that.

ROSS COULTHART:Weipa is a contest for the trust of workers. It's being waged largely between two men who both have solid Labor credentials. In one corner CFMEU boss, John Maitland, who admits bloody turf wars between his union and the AWU have left workers disillusioned.

JOHN MAITLAND: I think it's been unfortunate. We've burnt up a lot of resources which I think could have been used for the fundamental issues out there - looking after people's rights and wages and conditions, et cetera.

ROSS COULTHART: And 35 storeys up, in Melbourne's Collins Street, Leon Davis, the man at the helm of mining giant CRA. He was once a member of the very union many unionists feel has failed workers at Weipa, the AWU.

LEON DAVIS: I was a member of the AWU for two years. I worked as a labourer in Port Pirie in the plant. I have been a member of the staff and I can understand why people see that staff conditions are better. People worked better, had better productivity, than people who worked under award conditions. Now, I don't know the reasons for that but it's there, and when people in recent times transferred from award conditions to staff conditions, again, there was this instantaneous almost improvement in their work output.

ROSS COULTHART: Leon Davis is from a family with a strong Labor history. Both his grandfathers were Labor politicians. In today's exclusive interview with Sunday he defends the management policy behind individual contracts.

Bob Hawke described the management philosophy that's driving your policy as theological crap. What's your response to that?



LEON DAVIS: Well it's neither theology, nor it's crap. It's hard-headed business practice and it's part of continuous improvement. In any business we operate in Australia, we have to challenge the status quo, we have to look at sacred cows because unless we do we are going to fall behind in the competitive stakes.

ROSS COULTHART: Are you anti-union?

LEON DAVIS: Not at all, no. And that's the real problem with this debate. It's degenerated into trying to portray CRA as anti-union, and we're not.

JOHN MAITLAND: One has to be suspicious of that because our organisation has indicated that we have no problem in any employer seeking to get their employees committed to the company and we're prepared to deal and cooperate with it.

ROSS COULTHART: CRA did make a foolish mistake at Weipa. It couldn't justify the gap in pay between award workers and staff workers doing the same job.

UNIDENTIFIED: I made $32,000 last year, gross. My best mate who drives the same truck as me, he took home $52,000.

ROSS COULTHART: The unions were able to argue convincingly that CRA was discriminating against those unionists who wanted to collectively bargain.

UNIDENTIFIED: Where I work, bar one, I've trained up everyone and the people in my crew and I'm probably the lowest paid.

ROSS COULTHART: Under cross-examination by Mr Hawke, CRA conceded that union members were treated unfairly at Weipa, earning an average of $7,000 less than those on contract, often for the same work. It's a mistake CRA's boss admits should never have happened.

LEON DAVIS: There's two sides to this and there are two players in this. We've been dilatory and I think the other party has been too. Bear in mind, the unions could have applied for an increase in this award just as much as we could have. They didn't do that either. But we do value award people just as much as we do value staff people and we should have, if the unions weren't going to do it, we should have done it, and I think we made a mistake there.

ROSS COULTHART: Do you think that you may have been a little too heavy-handed?

LEON DAVIS: It's always anathema to me to have writs out against our own employees. I don't think that's a good way to win the hearts and minds of our people.

ROSS COULTHART:Although Weipa may be just a hiccup in the company's four-year-old campaign for staff contracts, the unions see next week's industrial commission decision as vital to the future of the union movement.

JENNIE GEORGE: Well, we started to win the hearts and minds of Weipa because of the very unequal position that we were in.

ROSS COULTHART: It's not just Weipa. It's also Hamersley. It's also a whole range of Comalco and CRA sites.

JENNIE GEORGE:I think the best answer would be to that: in a year's time, you come back and when we've established the level playing field, how many will in fact sacrifice the contracts and come back under the award arrangement?

ROSS COULTHART: The unions see this court battle with CRA as the beginning of their fight to win back the thousands of CRA workers who've chosen to go onto individual contracts. The unions hope that if they can win equal pay for their striking Weipa workers, then thousands of CRA workers on contracts will come flocking back to the union in their droves. But CRA doesn't really care if it wins or loses here next week because they believe that in the battle for the hearts and minds of workers they've already won.

If you lose the Weipa case, is this the end of CRA's attempts to install individual contracts?

LEON DAVIS: No. I don't think it is because we still want to work within the industrial relations system, within the Act, to bring in staff contracts because we think this is so important.

ROSS COULTHART: Many unionists are privately scathing about the principal union on site at Weipa, the Australian Workers Union, or AWU. In the early days of the strike, a ballot was held to see which union workers preferred. The overwhelming vote was for the miners's union - John Maitland's CFMEU. Nobody voted for the AWU.

PAUL HOULIHAN: To call it a scrap between the AWU and what is now the CFMEU is masterly understatement, it really is.

ROSS COULTHART: Industrial relations consultant, Paul Houlihan, says the union power struggle at Weipa made the unions their own worst enemy.

PAUL HOULIHAN: There is a very vibrant hatred between those organisations. Don't worry about bosses. Bosses are gentlemen and scholars compared to each of those unions. The relationship has been poisonous, is poisonous, and I don't see the results of this week. I don't even think Marcel Marceau is going to be able to pour balm on that one. He couldn't do it when he was president of the ACTU, and it's been going well back beyond his time there.

ROSS COULTHART: Even though the CFMEU has no award coverage at Weipa, the strikers make no secret of their allegiance. Privately, most have nothing but contempt for the AWU's State Secretary Bill Ludwig. The best he could do for them was fly to a mining union conference in Washington to ask for support.

JOHN MAITLAND: If you ask the workers up there about us, you'd probably find that's different. They've said we didn't take our eye off the ball; we've been the ones who've really been responsible, along with the maritime unions, for solving this issue.

ROSS COULTHART: So you think the AWU failed in its job for the workers?

JOHN MAITLAND: I don't like to publicly criticise other unions but that's part of what's been speculated around.

ROSS COULTHART: The great untold story about the super-union power struggle is that as a consequence of these battles some unions are selling their members' award conditions down the river to win the favour of employers.

PAUL HOULIHAN: You'll see both sides there with their hands on their hearts, testifying that this complies with all the principles and this does all these wonderful things before the commission, knowing full well that you could literally drive a truck through it.

ROSS COULTHART: Do you sometimes play unions off against each other so that you can win....

-

PAUL HOULIHAN: Perish the thought. Perish the thought that such wickedness could be .. of course we do. It's the business we're in.

JOHN MAITLAND: Some employers have used the courts, and that particular section of the Industrial Relations Act, to remove militant unions and they end up with compliant unions, and then compliant unions aren't able to defend those fundamental rights such as the ones in Weipa from strategies - well-planned strategies - by huge multinational companies like CRA.

ROSS COULTHART: What you are saying is that the AWU was a compliant union.

JOHN MAITLAND: Again, I don't like making public comment about it. I think....

ROSS COULTHART: But that's the inference, isn't it?

JOHN MAITLAND: Well, we should leave people to judge that themselves.

ROSS COULTHART: The AWU has been the main union at every site where CRA's won the individual contracts battle. Now, Jennie George is giving unions that can't keep their members just one year to clean up their act.

JENNIE GEORGE: We've got to put some unions on notice that constitutional coverage cannot for ever be your only defence. If you use that coverage and then do nothing to go out and recruit and service the members that you are there to represent.

ROSS COULTHART: Three years ago, Sunday toured Australia with then Industrial Relations Minister, Senator Peter Cook, reporting on the widespread optimism about a new era of industrial harmony, achieved collectively through enterprise bargaining.



BOB JOHNSTON: I think there was a realisation, a dawning in Australia by everybody - management, the unions, government, that we had to change our ways. I think the unions recognise that without reform there weren't going to be any jobs.

ROSS COULTHART: Even then, the rank and file were demanding the ACTU do something about moves to cut unions out of the deal. It's taken three years for the ACTU to respond.

Do you admit that the unions took their eye off the ball with individual contracts?

JENNIE GEORGE: Yes. I think we let it get away. As I said earlier, had we intervened earlier it might not have had the consequence that we are now seeing.

ROSS COULTHART:Another casualty in this dispute was the friendship between Paul Keating and the man he'd previously thought of as one of his closest friends, ACTU secretary, Bill Kelty. First, the Prime Minister declared industrial peace before lunch time as he flew out to Osaka.

PAUL KEATING:I'm optimistic that we might be able to tidy it up by midday or thereabouts.

ROSS COULTHART: But Mr Keating had jumped the gun, failing to nail down a deal with Comalco's Terry Palmer before he made his announcement.

LEON DAVIS: Terry Palmer said he had a couple of problems with it and let's talk about it the next day. Now, he thought the problems were fairly minor and when he and I spoke about them and the amendments we wanted in it, they did seem pretty minor. Unfortunately, when we got into negotiations with the ACTU, they were fairly major problems for them. And then the four points expanded to six, and then later on, in the evening or the next day, those six points expanded to nine, and it was a bit like the Triffids - we'd cut one off and two would grow in its place.

ROSS COULTHART: The unions say you guys ratted on the deal.

LEON DAVIS: Well, we didn't. Nobody, nobody asked our opinion on the deal. Nobody did.

ROSS COULTHART: Including the Prime Minister?

LEON DAVIS: Yes.

ROSS COULTHART: The appointment of former Prime Minister Hawke was also a humiliating snub for the PM. It swept his APEC trade win off the front page.

JENNIE GEORGE:Well, I regret that Mr Keating made a judgment that the dispute would be resolved early on the basis of the discussions we'd had with the company.

ROSS COULTHART: Hasn't it backfired for you?

JENNIE GEORGE: No. Look, my primary obligation .. I mean the ACTU is not an arm of government. The ACTU is there to represent workers.

JOHN MAITLAND: The ACTU sees its own survival as more important than any political party. So I think it's a very clear message that Bill Kelty will defend the trade union movement regardless of the consequences for anyone.

ROSS COULTHART: Are we about to see a new militancy in our trade union movement?

JOHN MAITLAND: I think there are a lot of workers out there who are calling for it.

ROSS COULTHART: The last thing Australian companies want is a return to the industrial militancy of the past. But there are many who are waiting to see if CRA can win the war it denies it's fighting with the unions.

LEON DAVIS: I think the union movement has served this country very well in the past. Like every other organisation, they have to look at how they're going to restructure for the future. And, just as we're looking at how we're going to restructure for the future, so does every other organisation.

JIM WALEY: Sunday's Ross Coulthart with that report.