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Issue No. 179 23 May 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

The Game’s Up
Research into executive pay commissioned by the NSW Labor Council makes explicit what most of us have suspected for some time: the multi-million packages are a rolled gold rort.

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

 War Declared on Mega Salaries

 Poms Prick Golden Parachute

 Picket Breaks Abbott

 Abbott: Unions are Winning

 Hotel Silences Poverty Witness

 We’ve Lost A Lion

 Nurses Refuse to be Shelved

 Boss Picks Porters’ Pockets

 Left, Right Meet at Sea

 ACTU Prescribes Pan Medicine

 Tycoon Tuned Out

 MUA Clout in Wollongong Punch-Up

 Pusey Roams Dark Side

 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
 Hard Copy
 Bad Language
 Modern Management Theory
 Tom's Revival
 Off the Rails
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Nurses Refuse to be Shelved


Nurses have targeted aged care facilities that insist on paying fourth year nursing assistants less than supermarket shelf stackers.

The NSW Nurses Association, buoyed by the success of its public sector test case, has made application to the NSW IRC to vary the Nursing Homes award in a bid to boost pay rates and retain staff.

The Association is gearing up to run several elements of its strategy as a special test case before the commission's full bench.

Matters to be put before the commission include pay rates, allowances, qualifications, workloads, overtime, recognition for NSWNA officers and paid parental leave.

The move follows months of discussions during which aged care representatives have repeatedly refused to move wage and conditions in line with public sector movements.

The latest pay offer from NSW nursing homes and hostel operators would leave aged care employees between 12 and 14 percent adrift of wages paid to colleagues at nearby public hospitals.

Nurses Association secretary, Brett Holmes, called the offer "unacceptable and insulting."

"People would be shocked to learn that the standard hourly rate for a fourth year nursing assistant in a NSW nursing home, who provides care for frail, elderly people, is $12.86, while the rate for an adult supermarket shelf packer is $14.20," Holmes said.

He said the situation was a direct result of employer instransigience and the policies of the Federal Government and would only worsen the sector's recruitment and retention problems.

An eighth year registered nurse in aged care earns $167 a week less than counterparts in the public system will get from July 1.

Key elements of the nurses claim include a 27 percent jump in income; new qualification clauses rewarding study and skills development; a reasonable workloads clause; changes to overtime; and the introduction of paid parental leave.

The Nurses Association this week served the application, by registered mail, on principal employer and industry organisations, along with individual employers.


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