||Issue No. 187||18 July 2003|
Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts
Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
Industrial: Just Doing It
Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Bad Boss: In the Pooh
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Technology: Dean for President
International: Rangoon Rumble
Education: Blackboard Jungle
Review: From Weakness to Strength
The Locker Room
Sid Einfield Would be Proud
Tom in the Manger
Sermon on the Mount
Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts
In an era when workers feel under growing pressure, managers are cooking up new ways to claim them as a chattel - from electronic surveillance to biometric testing to mandatory drug and alcohol tests.
Workers are now saying enough is enough and through their unions, are moving to draw a line through the sand.
Next week Labor Council will launch an online campaign to pressure the Carr Government to make good a long-standing promise to protect workers from the prying eyes of their boss.
While limits have already been placed on video surveillance, bosses have carte blanche to read personal emails, monitor website use and dictate who can send a message into the workplace.
Welcome undertakings of legislative reform have now been sidetrack into a constitutional labyrinth that could see the NSW Government defer to Canberra without a fight. Such a move would allow the business lobby to write the laws for how they can control their workers email usage.
Meanwhile, these same employer groups are pushing for the 'freedom' to genetically test workers in a whole range of industries, under the pretence that they need to weed out workers with a susceptibility to certain medical conditions.
While they argue this is in the interest of public safety, a more tangible motivation appears to be the desire to weed out workers who may later be more likely to become a workers compensation burden.
And the issue of mandatory drug testing is also on the agenda, with the Carr Government planning to submit all rail employees to random urine testing and threatening to sack anyone with traces of drugs in their system.
Given many drugs stay in the system longer than they impair a worker, this blanket ban does represent a further restriction on what a worker can do in their capacity as private citizen and consenting adult.
Gauge impairment by all means, but random tests that bear no relationship to work performance are, on their face, a further erosion of a worker's private affairs.
Perhaps these trends are all driving the most recent phenomenon amongst workers - when asked what's important to them they put conditions like hours and leave ahead of pay.
That's why the ACTU Executive, speaking on behalf of two million workers, this week called for the public money in Peter Costello's 'piddling' tax cut to be invested in public services instead.
It's why workers at NRMA Insurance are currently putting their money where their mouths are, fighting an offer to increase the working week by three hours.
And it probably explains why 40 brave workers at Morris McMahon shunned a $1500 sweetener to sign an individual contract and chose to stand on the picket line for 17 weeks in defence of their right to bargain as a group.
Where will it end? Workers drawing limits on how much of themselves they'll give their boss? Refusing to trade away their lives for a few lousy dollars? Starting to act like social rather than purely economic beings?
It's the rationalists' worst nightmare and it is fast becoming a reality.
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