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Issue No. 180 30 May 2003  

Headless Nation
So the Governor-General has voted himself out of the Big House, recognising that his capacity to discharge his duties as Head of State had been fatally compromised by the skeletons in his Yarralumla closet.


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.


 Sanitarium Casts Democracy into Hell’s Fire

 Mouse that Roared

 Abbott: Look After Number One

 Entitlements Revamp – Acid on States

 Strong Stuff – Commission Star in Court

 Think Before You Drink

 Maritime Hero Takes Final Journey

 All Ding but No Gong

 Aged Care in Terminal Condition

 Strathfield Joins War on Shonks

 AMWU Returns to the Fold

 Green Jobs In Offing

 Register for Action

 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.

 Language Most Foul
 Unions Deserve Reputation
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Aged Care in Terminal Condition

Health workers have called for minimum staffing levels in aged care facilities in the wake of statistics showing half of all workers in the sector do not believe they can properly care for their patients.

With almost one in four workers saying they feel in danger at work due to a lack of proper safety, the Health Services Union says Australia now has a crisis on its hands.

The HSUA has released the survey of 3,000 members to launch the first national campaign to improve conditions in aged care facilities.

HSUA national secretary Craig Thomson says the survey showed the quality of care provided to elderly Australians was being compromised by understaffing and dangerous conditions.

''People in aged care facilities deserve the best possible care,'' he says. ''But the way the industry operates at the moment too many of them are not getting it.

''Under the Federal Government's cost-cutting regime there are not even minimum staffing levels required to ensure a basic standard of care and safety."

'The union's campaign will include a call for all employers and state governments to introduce minimum staffing levels in all areas to give a guarantee of care for residents and their families.

''Our members have told us they don't have the time to properly care for the residents to the standard they would like to," Thompson says. ''We have had examples highlighted to us where there is only a single staff member in a facility with 50 beds or more.

''Too many staff are working in facilities where there are serious safety concerns connected to staffing levels. When there are not enough staff the risk to the health and safety of residents increases dramatically.''

72Strathfield Joins War on Shonks

Strathfield will give bodgey bosses the flick under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the NSW Labor Council.

The Labor dominated council, joins nearby Holroyd, in committing itself to only doing business with employers who meet industrial relations responsibilities and statutory requirements such as payroll tax and workers comp premiums.

The philosophy behind the MoUs is to drive shonks out of local government, particularly in an environment were the contracting out of services is increasing.

Labor Council assistant secretary Chris Christodoulou says "unscrupulous operators" can drive straight competitors to the wall by undercutting wages, conditions and statutory standards.

"We expect councils with Labor-dominated caucuses to lead the way on this," Christodoulou says. "We will be moving on to the conservative councils but they might require a more aggressive approach."

Labor Council, and the MEU, have already initiated discussions with the South Sydney and Wollongong City Councils and Christodoulou is "confident" both will sign MoUs by the end of June.

Attention is then likely to turn to Marrickville and Blacktown, two big Sydney municipalities where Labor is strongly represented around the council table.


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