||Issue No. 174||11 April 2003|
Might Does Not Mean Right
Interview: Picking Up The Peaces
Unions: The Royal Con
National Focus: Around the Grounds
Economics: The Secret War on Trade
International: United Front
History: Confessions of a Badge Collector
Politics: Stalin’s Legacy
Review: Such Was Not Ned’s Life
Poetry: Osama's Top Recruiter
Satire: Woolworths CEO Denied Bonus After Company Posts Profit
The Locker Room
More Angry Trots
SARS Lays Jobs Low
The full impact of the deadly virus is being felt in aviation where 1000 Qantas employees have been given their marching orders and hundreds more face redundancy or reduced hours. Qantas says the war is partly responsible but blames SARS for pounding the final nail into the employment coffin.
Health care workers, community care workers and anyone dealing with an individual are also at risk. The World Health Organisation has documented 2671 cases of SARS in 17 countries, with a total of 111 known deaths.
Unions around the world are scrambling to ensure members are protected. But with new information coming to light almost daily it is hard to say how much risk workers face and the most appropriate precautions would be.
The Flight Attendants Association of Australia maintains that the actual risk to cabin crews of contracting SARS appears low but that while so many questions have yet to be answered it will support members taking precautionary measures, such as wearing facemasks or gloves.
The FAA is encouraging thorough and regular hand washing. It has also set up a dedicated webpage to share new information as it comes to light and to provide access to other SARS information sources.
The World Health Organization says that SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is a deadly strain of pneumonia first recognised at the end of February 2003. It includes in its list of early SARS symptoms fever, malaise, chills, headache and dizziness. Some victims also experience coughing, a sore throat and a runny nose, it says. The incubation period is believed to be from 1 to 10 days from the first exposure to the onset of symptoms.
The most common mode of infection is thought to be entry through mouth, inhalation and eyes, with the disease potentially transmitted through droplets traveling through the air when people cough or sneeze. It is not yet certain if it can also be transmitted through other bodily secretions but close contact with an infected individual does increase the risk of the virus being spread from one person to another.
Aside from the FAAA, many other unions are putting measures in place to support members and are pushing to ensure employers do the same.
Meanwhile, several hundred workers screening travelers at a Canadian airport were provided with protective facemasks by their union but were told to take them off by management. According to a Toronto Sun report five screeners, including a pregnant worker, were sent home for the duration of their shifts when they refused to remove their masks.
In Australia Qantas is now permitting its workers to wear masks and gloves.
FAAA SARS page: http://www.labourstart.org/sars/
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