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Issue No. 152 13 September 2002  

The Legacy of 11/9
From the orgy of righteous indignation that has enveloped the �Free World� this week a more chilling truth is emerging: if the suicide bombers were attacking Liberal-Democracy they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.


Interview: Still Flying
Flight Attendant�s Association international secretary Johanna Brem looks at life in the air since last September�s terrorist attacks.

International: President Gas
NSW Firefighter�s president Darryl Snow sent this missive to his members on the anniversary of a day when 343 of their colleagues died in the line of duty.

Politics: Australia: A Rogue State?
ARM director Greg Barnes argues that September 11 has summoned a new era of isolationism and international lawlessness.

History: Levelling September
Counterpunch�s Peter Linebaugh reminds us that September 11 is the anniversary of another seminal battle: the fight for the English commons

Unions: Welfare Max
Maximus Inc is big, American and controversial. Right now its knocking on the door of Australian welfare delivery and there is every chance the Howard Government will usher it inside, reports Jim Marr.

Bad Boss: Welcome to Telstra!
A Telstra call centre has joined the race for Bad Boss after sacking a pregant woman who had the audacity to need to use the toilet

Health: Fat Albert: The Grim Reaper
Workers Online�s cultural dietician Mark Morey chews the fat over this week�s conference on child obesity

Poetry: A Man From the East And A Man From The West
Resident Bard David Peetz has penned this ode to the sacked Hilton hotel workers

Review: The Sum Of All Fears
Tara de Boehmler checks in to see that America�s cultural cringe is alive, well and sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes


 �Robbed Generation� Seeks Stolen Wages

 One Year On: Ansett Crash Still Hurts

 Cole Exposed By Immigration Scam

 Car Workers on Howard Hit List

 Mystery Windfall for Hilton Workers

 Shock: Abbott Backs Workers

 Union Billboards Censored

 Track Grab Ignores Lessons of Glenbrook

 Casual Approach to Air Safety

 Bosses Say No Living Wage For NSW Childcarers

 Pastry Workers Tell Boss To Get Puffed

 Injury Toll Mushrooms

 Victorian Zookeepers Down Buckets

 Pride and Safety for Workers Out!

 Activists Notebook


Gough's Plaza
Labor's living legend challenged NSW Labor to lift its game as he attended a renaming of 2KY House to Gough Whitlam Plaza.

The Locker Room
Support The System That Supports You
This system is a certainty, a moral, a good thing and a knocktaker; well, at least according to Phil Doyle

RIP Chainsaw Al
One of the heroes of corporate downsizing has been cut down but his memory lives on with golden handshakes for leaders of failed businesses still thick on the ground.

Week in Review
Lest We Forget
You can�t help a sneaking suspicion, Jim Marr writes, that George Bush is conscripting the dead of September 11, 2001, to lead his push for another war in the Gulf�

The Importance of Being Ernie
It was the tenth annual �Ernie� Awards for sexist behaviour and Labor Council�s Alison Peters was amongst the noisy punters

Workers Out!
Gay and Lesbian trade unionists are organising an international conference to develop a global response to homophobia in the workplace, writes Ryan Heath

 The CFMEU Race Debate #1
 The CFMEU Race Debate #2
 Keeping it Clean
 Sue the Leaders?
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Bad Boss

Welcome to Telstra!

By Jim Marr

A Telstra call centre has joined the race for Bad Boss after sacking a pregant woman who had the audacity to need to use the toilet


When TeleTech isn't being itself, one of the world's largest call centre operators, it's happy to dress up as Telstra in drag.

Which is exactly how it passes off its Victoria Government-subsidised operation in Moe. Over 300 people work out of Ollitern Ave premises, branded with the Telstra logo, and just to add to the illusion they're required to start their conversations ..."Welcome to Telstra".

While customers might reckon they're being dudded by this approach they can always look on the bright side. At least, by and large, they don't work there, but more of that later.

The Teletech-Teltra deal makes for a win-win relationship at company level.

Teletech can subject Latrobe Valley workers to a range of born in the USA industrial relations policies that Telstra can't be seen to endorse in these politically-sensitive times, and both outfits walk away with a tidy little earn.

The way it works is a Telstra special as those familiar with the likes of Stellar would be aware.

First-off, Teletech wins Victorian Government support for establishing the Telstra Mobile operation in the state. This amounts to a wage subsidy of something like $1000 a worker.

Next it hires locals who are forced to sign Office of the Employment Advocate-endorsed AWAs that provide for salaries $6000 a year less than those earned by Telstra employees doing exactly the same work. Despite what Government and its Advocate might say, the simply reality is job applicants either sign the AWA or they don't work.

Then Teletech brings some of its own HR skills to bear, courtesy of one Robyn Dodds, previously of the Sale Jail.

To be fair, it's the uniquely TeleTech aspects of the workplace that have earned the operation this week's Tony nomination for Australia's Worst Boss.

Workers highlight bullying, significant and unexplained deductions from their wages, and unjustified dismissals as management policies they want reversed.

To this end more than 80 have signed up with the CPSU. When they sought a meeting over their grievances after a Monday stopwork meeting, management refused point blank but, moved by a strike threat, they entered talks later in the week.

Organiser Gail Drummond praised staff for their "backbone", saying management "scare tactics" were starting to backfire.

The workers want to be paid thousands of dollars they have been owed for months. Most of this money accrued because they were required fulltime for their first fortnight before reverting to part-time hours.

Repeated requests for the money to be paid had drawn blanks prior to the vote for industrial action.

They are also looking for an assurance that bullying of workers absent on sick leave will cease.

Drummond highlights the cases of two women, so incensed that they are pursuing unjustified dismissal cases against TeleTech.

The first, a pregnant woman, was dumped after being warned she was taking too many toilet breaks. Afraid, she started dropping calls back into the queue to cover her absences and was sacked.

The second got her marching orders for not ringing in daily to explain her absence, although the company knew she had been in hospital with pneumonia.

Drummond says the dismissals are examples of "bullying that has to stop".

Just last weekend, she says, a young woman received notification that her grandmother had died. TeleTech's idea of beareavement consideration? Five minutes away from the headset.

Some part-timers, predominantly women with young children, were promised rotating rosters so they could meet their family responsibilities. They have been rostered on eight-hour Saturday and Sunday shifts for the past 15 weekends.

The workers actions have drawn the ACTU, Telstra and even the Victorian Government into the shambles but, still, it seems, TeleTech, Moe, has a fair way to go to shed its Bad Boss label.


The action taken by Teletech staff appears to be paying off. Obviously motivated by the less than flattering media coverage of the dispute, Teletech's Asia Pacific supremo dropped everything this week and high-tailed it down to Moe to sort the mess out in person.

The CPSU's Gail Drummond reports staff are encouraged by progress and that industrial action has been put on hold.

"Not only have all the unpaid wages been paid, management has finally, if grudgingly, recognised the valid role of CPSU union delegates in Teletech.

"And if it is true that a handful of local managers got their arses kicked over this, that's kind of nice too," Drummond said.


*    See previous nominees

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