Greetings from Melbourne, Australia! It's interesting being in a country where industrial relations is such a prominent subject. Controversies over industrial relations legislation were central to the federal election campaign in 2007, and the current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations before becoming Prime Minister. Indeed, even Melbourne's tallest building has some interesting labor symbolism.
Melbourne's tallest building is the Eureka Tower. It is named after the Eureka Stockade, a structure built by gold miners when they rebelled against the government over a number of grievances during the Victorian gold rush in 1854. Some of these grievances were caused by incentive compensation plans among government inspectors run amok. Unfortunately, during the financial crisis we've seen the negative effects of other incentive plans, such as those for Wall St bankers, also run amok.
But back to the Eureka Tower...the gold crown on the building symbolizes the gold rush, and the red stripe near the top represents the bloody nature of the conflict (more than 30 people died). The miners created a blue flag with a white cross and the stars of the Southern Cross, and adopted this Eureka flag as their banner. The blue glass of the Eureka Tower captures the Eureka flag's blue background, and the building's white lines capture the white cross of the flag. The Eureka flag is still used today by the Australian labor movement.
It's nice to see this important history reflected in what otherwise appears to be a modern skyscraper. Unfortunately, most people probably just see a skyscraper, and all too easily overlook the importance of labor, past and present.
And a special hello to all my friends in Australia's "IR club"!