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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
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Authority Shafts Excessive Mine Hours

Tasmanian mine operators have been ordered to reduce working hours on safety grounds by the first legally-binding instruction of its kind in Australian history.

Workplace Standards Tamania has served notice on Barminco, contractor to Copper Mines of Australia, giving it until August 10 to replace 56-hour rosters with ones that don’t generate dangerous levels of fatigue.

AWU Tasmania secretary, Ian Wakefield, hailed the orders as a "huge victory that will flow on to every other state and territory."

His union has been the central player in a 30-month fight against Barminco rosters fingered for wrecking families and communities across the Apple Isle.

Public meetings in towns like Zeehan and Queenstown urged Barminco to move away from rosters that forced its employees out of sport and just about every other element of community life.

Clubs, pubs, shops and community groups all said they had been devastated by the effects of the rosters.

"We had the support of whole communities down here," Wakefield said, "the West Coast mayor, the local doctor and the local priest included.

"These companies run 56-hour a week rosters. They are killing our members and they are killing their communites as well."

The rosters, under which a typical worker would do four consecutive 12-hour night shifts then three 12-hours day shifts, back to back, before getting four days off, were developed at fly-in, fly-out operations in WA.

They came to Tasmania's metaliferous mines six years ago as contractors took over mining operations on the promise of huge cost cuts. Essentially, they allow mines to run around the clock with three rosters, instead of the traditional four, slashing the workforce by 25 percent.

Worker and community outrage forced most mines to re-write working hours but Barminco and a string of smaller contractors held out.

Barminco, last week, surveyed its own workforce on their hours preferences, possibly in a bid to appeal the orders, and got an 85 percent return in favour of traditional, less family-antagonistic rosters.

The issue came to a head last year when the Tasmanian Government commissioned an independent report on the issue. ACCIRT found excessive working hours common in Tasmanian mining and that these adversely impacted on occupational health and safety.

Last week's Workplace Standards order was the first, anywhere in Australia, that nominated fatigue, caused by working hours, as a health and safety issue and instructed the employer to remove the hazard.

Barminco and Copper Mines of Tasmania have been told to:

- cease arrangements that fall outside shifts prescribed in the notice

- establish a Fatigue Management policy in accordance with OH&S laws

- work with employees to assess the risk of proposed working hours

- provide documentary evidence of their intention to comply with the notice by July 31

In order to make its position clear Workplace Standards has set down working hours limits in writing. These would prevent anyone working an average of more than 48 hours a week over a full year.


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