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Issue No. 155 04 October 2002  

Wrong Way, Go Back
The weekend machinations over the structure of the ALP are in danger of missing the fundamental point: Labor�s current malaise is caused not be an excess of core values but through a deficit.


Interview: The Wet One
NSW Opposition industrial relations spokesman Michael Gallacher stakes out his relationship with the union movement.

Bad Boss: Like A Bastard
Virgin Mobile is sexy and funky, right? Well, only if those terms have become synonyms for dictatorial or downright mean.

Unions: Demolition Derby
Tony Abbott likens industrial relations to warfare and, like a good general should, he is about to shift his point of attack � from building sites to car plants, reports Jim Marr.

Corporate: The Bush Doctrine
For the powerful, consumerism equals freedom, and is all the freedom we need, writes James Goodman

Politics: American Jihad
Let�s get real. The origins of modern Islamic terrorist groups are in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Langley, Virginia not Baghdad, argues Noel Hester.

Health: Secret Country
Oral history recordings are an inadequate tool in trying to find out what happened to Aboriginal stockmen and their communities on cattle stations in Northern Australia, writes Neale Towart

Review: Walking On Water
On the 20th anniversary of the first AIDS-related death, Tara de Boehmler witnesses the aftermath of losing a loved one to the illness in Walking On Water.

Culture: TCF
Novelist Anthony Macris captures life on the shop floor in this extract from his upcoming novel, Capital Volume II

Poetry: The UQ Stonewall
The University of Queensland has sought to join the ranks of union-busting companies like Rio Tinto in trying to sack the president of the local union - and made the mistake of thinking they were dealing with an array of acquiescent academics.


 Corrigan Fires Shot in Rail Showdown

 Fight Begins For Long Weekends

 Experts to Arrest Drug Test Outbreak

 Jobs Auction Hitting Bank Workers

 Libs Pledge Moderate IR line

 Workers Kick Grand Final Goal

 NSW Screws Down Lid on Funeral Scams

 Hilton Strike Break Plans in Tatters

 Detention Centre Workers Demand Safety Search

 Religious Teachers Win Legal Coverage

 Pressure Builds on Parking Sting

 US Docks Lockout Hits Sea Trade

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
I Walk The Line
American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has weighed into the Hilton Hotel dispute with this special message to the workforce.

Mekong Daze
Union Aid Abroad's Phil Hazelton fires off a missive from Laos where he is spending a year working with the community.

Month In Review
Bush Whackers
It was a month where the world teetered on the brink of peace, no thanks to the leader of the free world, writes Jim Marr

The Locker Room
The Laws Of Gravity
Phil Doyle goes looking for the fine line that separates sport from an exercise in time-wasting

Snouts in the Trough
It�s AGM season in the corporate world, and deal after shady deal is being exposed as highfliers treat company accounts like the proverbial honey-pot.

Songs of Solidarity
There has been a proud history of pro-worker tunes dating back to the early days of the 20th century, which will be continued in a new CD, writes Dan Buhagiar.

 Jacks and Jills
 Shame on Murray
 Use or Abuse of Long Term Casuals
 Speaking in Tongues
 Casual Days
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Experts to Arrest Drug Test Outbreak

Labor Council is relying on law enforcement experience in a bid to beat back increasingly shrill employer demands for alcohol and drug testing.

The Council has engaged consultants, experienced in work with the Police Department, to develop alternatives to the invasions of worker privacy being demanded by employers.

Council safety watchdog, Mary Yaager, blasted "knee jerk demands" for testing as "expensive, invasive and inefficient".

"As a health and safety measure, drug testing is flawed," she said. "What it will tell employers is whether or not workers have drugs in their system. What it won't reveal is any level of impairment and that's what we need to identify.

"Drug test doesn't measure impairment. It's not designed to do that."

Yaager said Labor Council backed the training-up of people in the workplace who could identify specific impairments. She said that worker or employer reps on Safety Committees would be the obvious candidates.

Labor Council has commissioned independent, expert advice on the matter as at least three separate employers try to ram through claims that they should have the unilateral right to put workers through drug tests.

Off the Rails

The RTBU has stalled state government efforts to introduce random testing of rail employees at any time, day or night.

There is currently provision for workers to be tested at sign-on point but there is strong opposition to that being extended without adequate reason.

Union secretary Nick Lewocki says every rail accident is fully investigated and the findings made public. There has not been one accident in the past 20 years attributed to alchohol or drug abuse.

"Once signed on our people can still be tested if there is an incident, in practice that means an accident, public complaint or supervisor suspicion. We will not allow that to be broadened unless it is done in the context of a full review of matters such as fatigue and impairment - the full gamut of safety on our rail system," he said.

Government has agreed to such a review before going ahead with the proposed regulation.

Storemen Buck Tests

Last month NUW storemen and labourers at Brambles Sydney depots struck for 48 hours in opposition to a policy the company has already imposed in South and Western Australia.

Brambles calls their tests "voluntary" but anyone refusing is subject to dismissal.

"The policy is plain wrong," NUW secretary Derrick Belan said. "Our people have no objection to proper impairment tests but this is ridiculous. There are no laws in this country which force people to submit to drug and alcohol testing."

The NUW is slugging the issue out with Brambles in the Federal IRC. That case is currently on hold.

Meanwhile, NSW IRC Commissioner Michael Walton is about to bring down a decision in a similar dispute between BHP and the AWU in Wollongong.

Yaager says Labor Council would use its report to update policy guidelines and seek a an agreed approach to the issue.


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