The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 187 18 July 2003  

Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts
Thanks to advances in technology, workers are being asked to expose more and more of themselves to their employer: their emails, their genes, even their urine.


Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
One the movement�s great characters, Public Service Association general secretary Maurie O�Sullivan, is calling it a day. He looks back on his career with Workers Online.

Industrial: Just Doing It
Sportswear giant, Nike, is the first company to sign off on an agreement that purports to protect Australian clothing workers, wherever they labour, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
For a 23-year-old woman who has never worked in the trade, recruiting young construction apprentices into the union has its challenges, reports Carly Knowles.

Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Mal Cochrane came to the smoke as part of an Aboriginal avalanche that redefined the face of Rugby League. Today, he serves his community through the trade union movement.

Bad Boss: In the Pooh
What do you give a boss who makes his workers labour in raw sewage? A nomination for the Tonys.

Unions: National Focus
In the national wrap Noel Hester finds a Victorian Misso delo who is redistributing lucre from Eddie McGuire into workers� theatre, South Australian unions taking that Let�s Get Real stuff seriously, an American unionist fronts up at a distinguished �meeting of the brains� in Adelaide and a look at the line up for ACTU Congress.

Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Dick Bryan wonders if we can be insured against pop economists promising financial nirvana as well as financial market instability.

Technology: Dean for President
Paul Smith looks at how the internet is helping one Democrat candidate to the front of the primary pack

International: Rangoon Rumble
Union Aid Abroad's Marj O'Callaghan looks at Australia's weak response to developments in Burma.

Education: Blackboard Jungle
Lifelong learning shouldn�t mean cutting jobs, but that's exactly what the Carr Government is proposing, argues Tony Brown

Review: From Weakness to Strength
Labor Council crime-fighter Chris Christodoulou catches up with his boyhood hero, the Incredible Hulk

Poetry: Downsized
Resident bard David Peetz pens the song the Industrial Relations Commission needed to hear


 Authority Shafts Excessive Mine Hours

 Insurance Quiz: Money or the Baby?

 Monk Lined up with Jihad Masters

 Rat in Ranks, Tubner Warns

 Hard Drug Stance Stoned

 Vote Snooping Bosses Out of House

 Termination Battle Hots Up

 US Actors Back Aussie Comrades

 TAFE Students Called to Arms

 Teachers Caught in Family Feud

 Longer Strikes Spark Picket Code

 Max Sets Athens as Airport Standard

 Indigenous First for Construction

 Call Centre Jobs Diverted From Delhi

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
Cleaning Up
Rabbi Laurie Coskey from San Diego adds her voice to the global campaign for just for cleaners in Westfield malls.

The Locker Room
The Name In The Game
In an age of the sportsperson as celebrity it seems that names are overtaking the games, writes Phil Doyle.

The Beach
Southern Thailand�s terrorist activities: facts or fiction asks HT Lee

 Feedback on Feedback
 Sid Einfield Would be Proud
 Tom in the Manger
 Sermon on the Mount
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees



Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts

Thanks to advances in technology, workers are being asked to expose more and more of themselves to their employer: their emails, their genes, even their urine.

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.

Peter Lewis



*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 187 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online