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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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Burn Payout Highlights Compo Fears

Two workers this week awarded $3.7 million in the Supreme Court in compensation for horrendous burn injuries would have received less than 25 per cent of that sum under new workers compensation laws.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the payout was one of the last under the system that existed before the Carr Government's changes to workers compensation that became law in 2001.

The two Integral Energy employees suffered the injuries following a massive electric shock in March 1999.

"Because the injuries were suffered before the Carr Government's changes became law, they were entitled to benefits under the previous system," Robertson said.

"Our legal advice is that if the injuries had been suffered today, neither worker would have launched a claim for common law damages, which are now so restrictive as to be unworkable.

"Instead they would have had to settle for the statutory scheme where benefits are capped and in some cases non existent.

Adrian Ware, who received $2,969,749 would only be entitled to receive lump sums of about $150,000.00 plus a small amount for workers compensation and payment of his medical and other expenses.

Alan Milson, who was awarded $1.035,000 would only be entitled to about $100,000 plus a small amount for workers compensation and payment of his medical expenses.

"These figures underline the severity of the 2001 cuts and exposes the Government's claim that no worker would be worse off as the spin it always was," Robertson says.

"This reinforces what we said at the time - the changes to workers compensation left injured workers substantially worse off."

Workers Gather to Remember Fallen Comrades

Meanwhile, A large band of unionists gathered together outside Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral to mark this year's International Day of Mourning on 28 April 2003.

The group, representing unions from across the state, used the occasion to remember the many people who lose their lives at work each year and to demand tougher measures on bosses whose negligence is found to be at the cause of fatalities.

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren used the day to highlight the tragedy of the many journalist killings during the war on Iraq, saying their deaths were one of the most unjust forms of censorship.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Gary Flynne said it was the "she'll be right" attitude that many had towards workplace safety that posed one of the greatest hazards. Some people lose the luxury of ever being able to say those words as a result, he said.

Meanwhile, Police Association president Ian Ball used the occasion to examine the untimely deaths of two police officers who recently lost their lives while on active duty, including Glen Machinelli who was shot while in pursuit of a person who had stolen a motor car.

Tim Ayres from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said about 40 workers lost their lives every year in the industry. But he said rather than getting hung up on the horror of the statistic it was more important to look at the individual stories of the people whose lives had been lost. He said failed systems and inadequate management systems were most often to blame for the incidents and said the adequacy of current legislation also had to be examined. Ayres also echoed the sentiments of many in calling for a monument to be erected which would commemorate the lives of workers who had been killed.

Recent ILO figures show that two million workers around the world die from work-related accidents and diseases each year.

Based on Australian workers' compensation data, 319 Australian men and women died from accidents or exposure in the workplace in 2000-2001 and a further 71 died while travelling to or from work.

Mr Jerry Ellis, Chairman of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC), adds that "these are just the reported fatalities and do not include those not covered by workers' compensation, such as the self-employed, and those who die from work-related diseases.

"Definitive statistics for deaths from work-related diseases are not yet available but the number of fatalities from injury and disease is estimated to be over two thousand each year."


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