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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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Hard Drug Stance Stoned

A one-strike-and-you’re-out workplace drug and alcohol testing regime would be unfair and self-defeating, according to a pharmacologist recognised by Australian courts as an expert witness.

Dr Judith Perl will tell a transport industry forum in Sydney on Monday that punishment, based on random drug testing, will do nothing to make workplaces safer.

"If you are going to punish on the basis of positive urine samples you are going to get in trouble, you are going to make many, many mistakes," she said.

The warning came as the NSW Government flagged regulations that would allow the State Rail Authority (SRA) to sack employees who tested positive for alcohol or drugs, under a new one-strike-and-you're-out policy.

Perl is no soft-touch on the issue of alcohol and drugs. She played a key role in the development of 1987 legislation allowing police to arrest and test motor vehicle drivers for drug impairment, and is used as by police to give evidence on the effect of alcohol and drugs on the human metabolism. Her testimony has helped convict sex attackers and murderers.

But, she says, there is a world of difference between identifying the presence of a substance and pin-pointing impairment.

To sack on those grounds, she says, would be "unjustified" and "very severe".

"There are drugs that hang around for days after use and don't indicate any impairment whatsoever," she says. "You can return a positive reading and be no risk to yourself or anyone else."

Cannabis and morphine, commonly used for pain relief, both fall into that category.

Perl says meaningful attempts to improve workplace health and safety must be based around identifying impairment, rather than exposure.

Professor Anne Williams of the University of NSW and Professor Graham Starmer, University of Sydney, are two other leading academics in the field who will address transport industry employers and unions.

The RTBU's Nick Lewocki is expected to tell the conference the hardline approach is a "knee jerk" reaction to political pressure being brought to bear on new Transport Services Minister, Michael Costa.

Lewocki says alcohol or drug impairment has not been identified as a culprit in one major incident on state rail's accident-prone system.

He is urging Government, instead, to implement recommendations from the Glenbrook Inquiry, including improved communications systems, sign-off procedures, and programs to deal with fatigue.


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