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A stake in the business

Round and round we go

A death in the family

Can new workers' co-operatives bridge old ideological divides?

JOE Caygill and Dave Kerin are the most unlikely of collaborators: one is a conservative-voting small businessman; the other, a Marx-quoting trade unionist.

Caygill has been in the manufacturing industry for 30 years. He’s the owner and CEO of Everlast, a hot water tank manufacturer based in Dandenong. But before long, he won’t be the boss anymore – just a worker-owner like everybody else.

After more than 20 years and countless campaigns, the Save Albert Park group is still trying to save Albert Park.

IT’S a Monday evening at the 3CR studios in Collingwood, and Save Albert Park’s radio show has just begun.

When the rousing theme song – “Do you hear the people sing?” from Les Misérables – ends, host Barbara Clinton introduces the guests. Owing to circumstances, there’s been a sudden change in programming: she had to bump a public parks expert from New York.

It’s over at Alcoa.  The last shipment of alumina unloaded from the pier, the fires extinguished in the furnace, and smelting pots shut down. No more jobs for life.

STEVE Beasley stands on the long factory line, with the crane controls at his waist. Hanging before him is the crucible, which looks like a huge steel teapot, with a long, downward spout for siphoning the molten metal.

He manoeuvres the crucible forward so its spout extends into the smelting cell, where – with the help of extraordinary amounts of electricity – alumina is turned into aluminium, at 950˚C. He’s been doing this for years, but something is different this time. The smelting cell – known as a “pot” – has already been switched off.