||Issue No. 179||23 May 2003|
The Game’s Up
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
Modern Management Theory
Off the Rails
Letters to the Editor
The opportunities for pushing the benefits of Union membership are not as some pessimists would have us believe as rare as Hens teeth , they are manifold and all around us , it is the belief in the reality of mythology , and the ineptitude and apathy of those who are entrenched in well paid Union positions suffering from domestic blindness , or burning up with their own personal hatreds or crusades , that lead this vanguard of the blind.
Recently I was employed as a casual street sweeper through a Labour Hire Company during the period May 9 - May 16.
I believe there were 20 people hired to participate in a Cleansing Blitz, people of whom I considered, other than myself, to have no experience of working in heavy traffic conditions either pedestrian or vehicular and certainly with suspect training in the area of Occupational Health and safety, this incompetence not only creating a personal exposure of danger to them, but also members of the public and agreeing to sign any document even a Faustus pact just to obtain employment.
This is no reflection on these people , who like myself have found it necessary to work without complaint , in less than secure environments for fear of losing a position , which although pays little , supplements the rapidly decreasing social wage paid by the Commonwealth.
We were sent to work on Sydney's busy roads during the torrential rain, which created further safety hazards through poor visibility for both the workers and the motorists. We were directed to work without the protection of accredited traffic control officers or even the mandatory instruction or signage; we were required to use noisy portable hand blowers without instruction , safety instructions , or personal protection equipment including Ear Protection, the only apparent purpose in the use of these noisy machines in the hands of willing but inexperienced staff being to move the litter from one position to another , with little or no apparent concern as the damage to private property including legally parked cars which are left covered in filth and damage from loose metal , twigs and branches blown with high pressure against their body panels , or dents caused by brooms being forced under cars parked close to the kerb.
Another area of great concern, was not only the deficiency of accredited instruction on the disposing of "Sharps", that is the myriad discarded syringes that abound the streets of Sydney, or the lack of freely available provision of equipment to collect and contain these potentially deadly implements, with the necessity to utilise discarded soft drink containers in which to place these 'sharps', possibly creating a greater danger if these are not immediately removed from public access.
No instruction on environmental protection was given to these workers, such as litter is not to be swept into the Stormwater Gullies as this goes directly into Sydney Harbour...
This environmental pollution being exacerbated by the constant rain preventing a build up at the gully grates thereby providing some antiquated method for the of catchment of litter.
There can be no ignorance by either this Council or Work Cover in relation to this display of not only blatant disregard of public or employee safety but active participation at every level, as I made both aware of these dangerous work conditions.
The point of my correspondence is ; why did a Union not Approach these Casual Employees and offer them advice on their rights as to a safe working environment, or contact Work Cover as the outrageous conditions they were permitted to work under , if only to protect their current members.
Well you may ask did these workers continue to work under such conditions , perhaps they like many other Australian families have mouths to feed , feet to shod , backs to clothe and children to educate and through a sheer necessity they are now forced to tramp the Hungry Mile of the 21st century.
On a personal note, my desire to provide for mine own demands that if need be, I will work under these conditions and for less money, not through greed but necessity and I will continue to do so.
Bravo Mr. Keating, your Competition Policy has worked wonders for the Australian Battler.
Bravo, Messrs Kelty and Hawke on your accord.
Bravo Ms. Burrows on your Global Fair Trade Campaign
And finally Bravo Greg Combet on your working poor campaign, from our experience it has been an outstanding success.
A poem by Ernest Anthony
They tramp there in their legions on the morning dark and cold
to beg the right to slave for bread from Sydney's lords of gold;
they toil and sweat in slavery, 'twould make the devil smile
to see the Sydney wharfies tramping down the hungry mile
on ships from all the seas they toil, that others of their kind
may never know the pinch of want or feel the misery blind
that make the lives of men a hell in those conditions vile
that are the hopeless lot of those who tramp the hungry mile.
The slaves of men who know no thought of anything but gain
who wring their brutal profits from the blood and sweat and pain
of all the disinherited who slave and starve the while
upon the ships beside the wharves along the hungry mile
but every stroke of that grim lash that sears the souls of men
with interest due from years gone by shall be paid back again
to those who drive these wretched slaves to build the golden pile
and blood shall blot the memory out - of Sydney's hungry mile
The day will come, aye, come it must, when these same slaves shall rise
and through the revolution's smoke ascending to the skies,
the master's face shall show the fear he hides behind the smile
of these his slaves who on that day shall storm the hungry mile.
And when the world grows wiser and all men at last are free
when none shall feel the hunger nor tramp in misery
to beg the right to slave for bread, the children then may smile
at those strange tales they tell of what was once the hungry mile.
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