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Issue No. 176 02 May 2003  

Solidarity Forever
Another May Day, another year gone, another year to look back on our history and celebrate the past and talk about how we can make our movement strong again.


Interview: Staying Alive
CPSU national secretary Adrian O'Connell talks about the fight to keep the public service - and the union movement - alive.

Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Wollongong workers on poverty-level wages are losing up to $5000 for taking toilet breaks, according to the union representing staff at a Stellar call centre.

Industrial: Last Drinks
Jim Marr looks at the human cost of the decision to close Sydney�s Carlton United Brewery

National Focus: Around the States
If Tampa told us that John Howard circa 2003 is the same spotted rabid dog from 1987, this week�s assault on Medicare confirms it reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Politics: Radical Surgery
Workers are vitally interested in Medicare, not least because they traded away wage rises to get it. Now, Jim Marr writes, the Coalition Government is tearing apart the 20-year-old social contract on which it was founded.

Education: The Price of Missing Out
University students and their families will pay more for their education following the May Budget, writes Tony Brown.

Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
Love is wonderful the second time around, goes the famous torch song. But is the same true for legislation? Asks Ashley Crossland

History: Massive Attack
Labour historian Dr Lucy Taksa remembers the general strike of 1917 to put the recent anti-war marches into perspective

Culture: What's Right
Neale Towart looks at a new book that looks at the failings of the Left, while reasserting the liberal project

Review: If He Should Fall
Jim Marr caught Irish folk-rock-punk legend Shane MacGowan at Sydney�s Metro Theatre. He was surprised but not disappointed.

Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Through a distortion in the time-space continuum, we have found a recording showing how people a few years into the future will deal with health care.

Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to monitor the Iraqi economy to ensure that the reintroduction of looting into the economy conforms with free-market theory.


 Mystery Men Behind Pan Bungle

 Charities Brace for Medicare Backlash

 Court Throws Out Cole Prosecutions

 Child Actor Dodges Broken Voice

 Rio Tinto: $40 Million for Boss, Eviction for Workers

 Child Care for Oldies Too

 Winning Poster Shouts at Freeloaders

 May Day Tragedy Claims Union Lives

 Westfield Cleaners to Down Mops

 Question Marks Over Nursing Home

 Burn Payout Highlights Compo Fears

 Costa Blows Whistle on Canberra Raid

 Hoops Bet on National Body

 Tear Us Down, Buttercup

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
What May Day Means to Me
Reader Marlene McAlear penned this tribue to May Day and worker solidarity.

The Toast
Labor Council secretary John Robertson's toast to the annual May Day dinner in Sydney.

The Locker Room
The Numbers Game
In life there is lies, damned lies and sporting statistics, says Phil Doyle - but who�s counting.

Brukman Evicted
ZNet's Marie Trigona reports from the streets of Argentina in the rundown to last week's presidential election.

The Costs of Excess
Some tall business poppies had their heads lopped this week as the laws of economic gravity applied their always chaotic theory.

 Is Labor History?
 Bob Gould Sprays Gerard Henderson
 War and Peace
 A Strange Light
 A Little History
 Does It Have To Be?
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Child Care for Oldies Too

Unions have called for a major rethink of aged care policy, with workers responsible for their aging parents requiring the same sort of support that young parents receive through child care.

The call came as more evidence emerged of employer inflexibility in the guise of Dick Smith Electronics, who have thrown two women out of work after refusing to take account of their family responsibilities.

Dick Smith mum, Amanda Ibbotson, and her family responsibilities

NSW Nurses Association general secretary Brett Holmes says the lack of suitable aged care services for elderly relatives places a major strain on workers, particularly women, 87 per cent of whom rate family friendly provisions their number one priority.

"While access to child care has rightly been recognised as an important strategic objective in the struggle to recruit and retain nurses, the constraints associated with aged care responsibilities have failed to attract similar attention," Holmes says.

"In the context of the ageing population and 15 years of public policy designed to encourage older people to remain in their homes, the difficulties associated with caring for elderly relatives is an issue of concern for a growing number of working Australians."

Holmes says in light of the intractability of the current nursing workforce shortage response, it is imperative that appropriate support services are available to those carers wishing to return to the profession.

Working Mums Given The Dump

Meanwhile, two working mums, with 27 years service between them, have been sacked after their employer refused to allow them to trial new positions that they feared would impact on their family life.

The women, employed by Dick Smiths Electronics - a wholly owned subsidiary of Woolworths - were told to take the new oppositions or take the sack, after their previous positions were made redundant.

One of the women, Amanda Ibbotson, is caring for a child with cerebral palsy and feared the alternate position would involve new responsibilities that would make it impossible for her to discharge this care.

But when she asked to trial her new position for two to four weeks, along with colleague Diane Wilson, she was told to accept the position now

"We just want an opportunity to have a fair go because we both have family responsibilities," Ibbottson told Labor Council delegates this week.

The Australian Services Union has condemned Dick Smith management for their inflexibility and is taking their cases to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

'These two women have been treated in an appalling manner, camped by a contemptible offer," ASU state secretary Michael Want says. "They should have the right to trial the new positions given their family responsibilities or be offered decent redundancies."


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