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  Issue No 17 Official Organ of LaborNet 11 June 1999  

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News

Shoot the Messenger: New Surveillance Fears


Unions fear a loophole in the Listening Devices Act means that messages left on answering machines and message-banks can be secretly monitored by employers.

The clerks branch of the Australian Services Union has raised concerns after one member was sacked and another disciplined over messages they left on a client's message machine. The dismissal has now been referred to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

In both cases, copies of messages were sent to the employer by a third party, claiming the employee had been impolite and discourteous on the phone.

ASU organiser Ted Tamplin says this form of monitoring is fraught with dangers -- often there's not even proof of who the person on the tape actually is.

The union wants to see some guidelines set down so that workers know when their messages will be scrutinised and protected from any subsequent use of the recording.

Tamplin says the loophole appears to exist because the message banks have developed since the Listening Devices Act was designed.

"This is just a case of the law failing to catch up with technology," he says. "The last guidelines were developed between the Labor Council and the Privacy Committee in 1983.,

"You can't monitor an employees' phone calls without letting them know, there is no reason why messages should be in a different category."

While employers are arguing that workers are impliedly consenting to surveillance by leaving a recorded message, they have no control to the use of that material.

The issue arises in the context of the development of call centres, with the government planning to create an extra 60,000 jobs in the industry in the next five years.


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*   Issue 17 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Class Consciousness
Long-time ALP member Michael Thomson has thrown a few grenades with a new book arguing that middle class trendies have taken over the ALP.
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*  Legal: Reith¹s AWAs Dealt a Blow
ASU v Electrix rules that AWAs can't be a take it or leave it proposition.
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*  Unions: Survey Misses the Point
Last week's attempt by the Australian newspaper to rank trade unions contained some fundamental flaws.
*
*  History: The Light on the Hill
Fifty years after his seminal address, Ben Chifley's words still ring true -- and still challenges Labor.
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*  International: Child Labour: Kerala’s Recipe
Of India’s 55 million slave children, not one is to be found in the state of Kerala, in the south of the sub-continent.
*
*  Review: Bazza Mckenzie Holds His Own
Tony Moore on perhaps the greatest Australian movie ever made.
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*  Women: Equal Pay - We've Come A Long Way
Thirty years have passed since women around Australia raised their fists in victory at the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission's historic equal pay for equal work decision.
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*  Activists: Throwing Off the Chains
Thirty years ago, Zelda D'Aprano was so incensed by the lack of progress in achieving pay parity that she twice chained herself to public buildings in Melbourne.
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*  Labour Review: What's New at the Information Centre
View the latest issue of Labour Review, a summary of industrial news for trade unions.
*

News
»  RAAF To Bomb Aussie Jobs
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»  Budget Blue Looms as Carr Poohs Social Audit
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»  Workers Choose: Key Ballot in Finance Sector
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»  Revealed: Bosses Bash Unions
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»  Shoot the Messenger: New Surveillance Fears
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»  Surfs Up! Second Wave on Horizon
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»  Local Music on Radio - Make it the Law!
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»  Doctors Out of Patience With Long Hours
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»  GST Creeps Dud Battling Workers
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»  Wanted: Someone to Fight the Uglies
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Columns
»  Guest Report
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»  Sport
*
»  Guest Report
*
»  Piers Watch
*

Letters to the editor
»  US Fan Mail
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»  Chippo Politics Tunes In
*
»  GST Rally june 21
*
»  Employment Conference for Newcastle
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