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Issue No. 178 16 May 2003  

Shit Sandwich
It took a few well-chosen comments by the sole Howard Government minister with a grasp on reality - or at least a penchant for a bit of takeaway - to blow Peter Costello’s Federal Budget to pieces.


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.


 Costello Whacks Women

 Abbott Picks Fight with Nurses

 Simon Slams Big End

 Hands-Off Howard Loses Seamen

 Safety Net Slips Disabled

 Clerks Put Boot In

 Bank Hold-Ups Expose Compo Failings

 Low Paid Dirty on Lawyer

 WIN Tactics a Big Turn Off

 ABC Jobs On Line

 Della’s Dallying Could Cost Miners

 Ministers of Misinformation Scoop Orwells

 Death Squads Strike

 Currawong Cottages Waiting for You

 Activists 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.

 Ron The Tool
 In Defence of Tom
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Bank Hold-Ups Expose Compo Failings

The Carr Government has provided the major banks with a million dollar windfall, with new WorkCover laws lifting liability for armed hold-ups.

The Finance Sector Union is highlighting the impact of the changes, comparing a recent $100,000 payout to a hold-up victim under the previous system, to advice that victims of a recent spate of hold-ups at ANZ Peakhurst will receive nothing.

FSU NSW-ACT secretary Geoff Derrick says the new laws leave bank workers without protection because of new thresholds calculating psychological loss.

Under the changes, workers need to show a 15 per cent whole of boy impairment, a threshold that psychiatrists are struggling to apply to cases of shock.

"We are finding that the new laws effectively absolve employers from taking responsibility for the psychological well-being of their workers," Derrick says.

Derrick points to the recent successful claim by a member at St George's Chester Hill branch who received more than $100,000 in compensation because of injuries she suffered after her employer was found to have breached its duty of care

But the FSU has been advised that despite four hold-ups at ANZ Peakhurst in last eight months, and evidence that the ANZ has failed in their duty of care, the bank workers will not be able to take action because of the prohibitative threshold.

To add to the insult, the major banks do not even contribute to the WorkCover Scheme that the reforms were designed to save. As self-insurers, the major banks take out their own insurance, although the same rules for assessing claims apply.

Derrick says this amounts to a major saving for the banks. " Their exposure to claims has been reduced by the changes.

"Self-insuranc eis a gamble, and the compo changes have shifted the odds dramatically in favour of the banks."

The FSU is calling on WorkCover to reconsider the major banks' status as self-insurers and seeking a review of the workers compensation laws to ensure victims of armed hold-ups do have access to compensation.

As for ANZ, the union is considering a prosecution for breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, focusing on the string of hold-ups at Peakhurst.


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