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Issue No. 190 08 August 2003  

Border Protection
The High Court’s decision that Australian labour laws should apply to cargo ships plying our shores could be the first shot in the fight back against the excess of corporate globalisation.


Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month’s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Legal Missile Holes Ships of Shame

 Labour Rights Threaten Trade Deal

 Workers Sharpen Community Clause

 "Puppet" Sparks Appeals

 FiFo, FiFo – Out the Gate We Go

 SRA Chief Off The Rails

 Qantas: Long Lunches on Rocks

 Water Crisis a Mist for Sell-Off

 Aussies Enter Karoshi Zone

 Combet Flies Ansett Plan

 Westfield Workers Seek Clean Start

 Rubber Workers Stretch Bridgestone

 Workers Art in Broken Hill

 Activist Notebook


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.

 Workplace Bullying
 Casual TAFE
 Wage Rise
 The Fifth Column
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Aussies Enter Karoshi Zone

NSW website UnionSafe this week joined a global internet campaign highlighting the rising instances of karoshi - death by overwork - in Australia and abroad.

Emphasising the link between workplace stress and death, the UK Hazards initiated Worked to Death site reveals that in Japan instances of karoshi are so common they have named it and made it a government compensated occupational disease.

But the Worked to Death campaign webpage shows that karoshi is a global phenomenon.

Changing work practices, the demise of job security, escalating demands, and violence and bullying in the workplace are all leading to tired and stressed out employees prone to heart attacks, strokes, disease and depression and more likely to take their own lives.

UK research shows that employees exposed to stress for at least half their working lives are 25 percent more likely to die from a heart attack and have 50 percent greater odds of suffering a fatal stroke. The research conducted by the UK's Trade Union Congress exposes stress as Britain's number one health hazard.

In Australia one of the leading causes of stress is overwork and incidences of the condition are on the rise. According to Australian research:

* The ACTU says Australia has the second longest working hours in the OECD and, on current trends, will soon have the longest. It says 31% of Australian employees now work hours that would be illegal in Europe, adding that we now have one of the worst records in the world.

* Teachers are one of the most overworked of all professions, with escalating demands now reaching titanic proportions. A new survey by the Australian Psychological Society says about 30% of university academic staff responding to its survey said they were working more than 55 hours a week, more than 11 hours per day. Yet a study of work related stress in Japan showed men working 11 hours were two and a half times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those working an eight hour day.

* NSW WorkCover says cases of occupational stress jumped 21% between 1999/2000 and 2000/2001, with female incidences increasing at a faster rate than males.

* Meanwhile, a national health survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics says about 11.2 percent of the workforce is taking an average of three days sick leave each fortnight in an attempt to cope with stress levels.

NSW Labor Council's occupational health and safety watchdog Mary Yaager says the research shows stress is a major problem.

"Australian employers are literally working their staff to death, with on the job stress, violence and fatigue edging their way up to become major causes of workplace fatalities.

"Stress and depression are caused by people not being able to balance their work and family lives, by workplace violence, long hours, a lack of fulfilment and fatigue.

"Escalating demands as a result of downsizing without taking the wellbeing of employees into account mean they have been forced to take on more and more responsibilities with less and less support.

"This is just one way the changing labour market is favouring practices that contribute to rising employee stress levels.

"Employers in the short-term might be maximising profits but this situation is not sustainable and unfortunately it is the workers that are paying the deadly price," Mrs Yaager says.

To visit the campaign website and to find out more please visit Visit UnionSafe at


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