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Issue No. 156 11 October 2002  

Work and the Meaning of Life
The high-profile case of Kamal El-Masiri takes the debate over the intersection of work and family onto an altogether higher plane.


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.


 Muslims Snubbed in Discrimination Laws

 Workplace Racism Rife Post S11

 Mad Monk�s World In Turmoil

 Qantas Directors Bust Wages Freeze

 Deregistration on Cole Agenda

 Aussie Wharfies Save Farmers

 Victorian Libs Block Pay Rise

 Dad�s the Word For Steelworkers

 Funeral Workers Dig in Their Heels

 Unions Expose Truth Of McDonalds� People Promise

 Gay and Lesbians Workers To Meet

 VTHC Urges Compassion For Colombian Refugees

 New Zealand Workers Win Paid Parental Leave

 WorkCover Inspectors Off the Road

 Mine Guards Shoot Own Workers

 Unions On Call For Working Young

 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.

 Who Is Farmhand?
 Direct Voting Rights
 Iraq is a Gobalisation Issue Too
 Letter to George Dubya
 WTO and Schools
 Casual Thought
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Muslims Snubbed in Discrimination Laws

NSW anti-discrimination laws may not cover Muslims because their religion spans more than one culture, sparking calls for an urgent legislative review.

The Labor Council of NSW has called on the Carr Government to review the legislation in the wake of the case of a Muslim IT worker who has been threatened with sack for praying at work.

Kamal El-Masri, a member of the Australian Services Union, has been threatened with dismissal from telecommunications company TPG over his commitment to praying, in his own time, at work.

Company management issued the edict, even though Kamal had negotiated the afternoon prayer time in return for a shorter lunch break for the last two years.

He's taken an action to have the dismissal threat withdrawn to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, which will hold further hearings over the coming week.

ASU assistant secretary Sally McManus says that Kamal has been forced to choose between his religion and his job

"The ASU has seen a rise in these instances over the last year and is concerned that it is indicative of a general rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the community," McManus says. "The stubbornness and inflexibility of this company demonstrates this."

Broader Review Required

El Masiri's plight has highlighted anomalies in NSW anti-discrimination law, which confine protection from religious discrimination to 'ethno-religious groups".

This means that religions - such as Islam and Christianity that span more than one culture - are not covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act.

"It is outrageous that workers should be forced to choose between their jobs and their religions," Labor Council secretary John Mr Robertson says.

"In Kamal's case, there is no evidence that his beliefs were infringing on his work - indeed he was making up the ten minutes in his own time."

Robertson says it's also disappointing that the Australian Services Union, who acted on El Masri's behalf, had been the victim of hate calls today.

"Trade unions are a leading voice in celebrating cultural diversity, we will continue to do so and do not believe our staff should be subjected to such bigoted behaviour."

The Labor Council has convened a meeting of all affiliates to discuss the rise in religion-based discrimination.


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