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Issue No. 177 09 May 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Joining The Dots
ACTU secretary Greg Combet’s call for unions to develop a clear set of values to organise around on a broader social canvass is an important next step in the process of renewal.

F E A T U R E S

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.

N E W S

 Combet Calls On Unions to Muscle Up

 HR Honours Death List Author

 Hotel Workers Trump Living Wage

 Abbott Brushes Security Concerns

 Rebates Thorn in Medicare Side

 Bosses Infected With SARS Hysteria

 Entitlements: Bargaining Chip Ploy Fails

 Nelson Plan Faces Higher Hurdle

 Public To Pay For Patrick Closure

 Airline Ratbags Bigger Than Texas

 Credibility Crisis for World Bank

 Acid on Billion Dollar Banks

 CSIRO Budget Fears

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

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

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.

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

Bosswatch
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.

L E T T E R S
 The Workers Press
 Massive Attack
 Teamwork Tom
 Solidarity
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Bosses Infected With SARS Hysteria


Some of Australia’s biggest employers are attempting to force workers to foot the bill for increased precautions to deal with the SARS virus.

While Qantas is blaming its latest round of job cuts on the virus, Westpac, ANZ, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Macquarie Bank, Telstra, Lend Lease, Singapore Airlines and HSBC are among the corporate giants enforcing quarantine periods for staff travelling to Asia.

Qantas this week briefed staff on unions on their latest round of staff cuts, drawing an angry reaction from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

"Qantas management should be absolutely ashamed of themselves", AMWU national secretary Doug Cameron says. "They are treating their staff as disposable during this difficult time while boasting to the share market about their cash reserves and payments to shareholders."

"Qantas staff are shareholders in this company too. They have delivered the profits and the quality of service and safety. Qantas should be repaying that effort during the difficult times," he says.

Banks Caught on Leave Balance

Meanwhile, the Finance Sector Union this week outed two major banks - Westpac and ANZ - who were requiring staff to take 10 days leave, accessing their own sick or annual leave entitlements. If such leave is exhausted, the leave is decreed as unpaid.

ANZ reversed this decision after the story went public, but a number of other employers are still asking workers to carry the can.

Meanwhile, SBS is requiring all reporters who have been on assignment in SARS-affected regions to stay home, being forced to take the time out of their annual leave.

NSW Health Department officials this week briefed union officials on the risk, confirming that forced 10 day stand downs of workers travelling to Asia were not necessary.

Chief Health officer Greg Stewart told unions that only staff exhibiting flu-like symptoms returning from high-risk areas should be quarantined. He said general stand-downs need only apply to health workers.

NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson says its time for employers to take a reality check.

"We have health experts telling us to be alert but not alarmed - maybe these are the people who should be setting the policy and not a bunch of SARS enthusiasts in the HR Department," Robertson says.

"The bottom line is that employers should be the one's to bear the cost of any increased precautions - not the workers."


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