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Issue No. 205 28 November 2003  

Australia Deserves Better
You only have to scan through recent issues of Workers Online to see why the leadership of the ALP is so important – not to the political insiders who judge the beauty contest that is federal politics, but to the millions of workers who are affected by its output.


Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
The Welfare Rights Centre's Michael Raper on 20 years of activism, the politics of punishment and how to make Australia egalitarian again.

Unions: Joel's Law
Building Workers have overcome powerful forces to push workplace safety back up the national agenda. But, Jim Marr writes, their "success" has come at an unacceptable cost.

National Focus: Spring Carnival
It must be spring: punting in Victoria, singing in South Australia, fighting in America. It’s all there in the national wrap from Noel Hester plus an Australian union movement rugby world cup class consciousness poll.

Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
They sacked the job delegate, reinstated him after an IRC hearing, and sacked him again two weeks later. But that was just the beginning.

Industrial: The Price of War
Mass industrial action is brewing in Israel as the policies of the right-wing Sharon Government come home to roost, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Who's Got What
Frank Stilwell pours over the latest BRW Rich List to build a picture of the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots.

History: Containing Discontent
Racism against minorities has always been a stock in trade of politicans, writes Phil Griffiths

Review: An Honourable Wally
Most Australians probably look at our politicians and feel they could do a better job but when redundant meatworker Wally Norman gets the chance to find out he realises getting elected is a major hurdle, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
A thousand blossoms bloomed during the US President's spring-time colonial visit last month.


 Labour Hire Boosts Tech Wreck

 Call Centre Throws Safety Out the Door

 Miners Tackle Million Dollar Sidestep

 Bouquets for Bosses

 Mandarins Nail Carpenters

 BHP Burrow-ed By UN

 ACT Rejects Manslaughter Bullying

 No Joy for Fat Exec Packages

 WorkCover Walks Away From Racetrack

 Contractors Scramble Foxtel Signal

 Safety Derails Train Talks

 Sydney Uni Strikes At Feds

 Workers Up For Safety Awards

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Bush's Faith-Filled Life
The President's conversion, 'sense of divine calling' and struggle with sobriety are subjects of a forthcoming book, writes Bill Berkowitz

The Not So Smart Money
Phil Doyle is sick of big money ruining grass roots sport, and he’s taking his bat and going home.

The Westie Wing
The ongoing challenge for Labor members of parliament is to make what the Premier calls the ‘creative partnership’ between the Government and the union movement a reality, writes our favourite MP Ian West.

Behind the Junta
Saw Min Lwin, Secretary for Trade Union Rights/ Human Rights for the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB), outlines the struggle for workers in his country.

 Mad Monk’s Medicare Minus
 A Tale Of Three Cities
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WorkCover Walks Away From Racetrack

Workercover has washed its hands of a country race fall that left an apprentice jockey unconscious and ended another rider’s career.

The late August meeting at Kempsey was conducted under controversial circumstances with jockeys concerned about a section of the track. The course curator admitted there was a problem and offered to move the running rail to avoid the affected area.

Despite the jockey's concerns stewards rejected the curator's offer.

In the first race a horse stumbled at the affected area but stewards decided to continue with the meeting. Disaster struck in the second race when two horses went down leaving apprentice Bo Ackland unconscious and long standing regional jockey, Barry Courtney, with broken ribs and crushed vertebrae.

In a blow to country racing Courtney will never ride again.

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) sought to prosecute the race club and the stewards under OHS legislation but was told by WorkCover it did not consider a race meeting a workplace, but rather a sporting event similar to a rugby league game.

"We're not very happy to say the least," says AWU Industrial Officer Matt Thistlewaite. "The people involved did not exercise the required level of skill and caution and that resulted in an injury that could have been avoided."

"We're getting legal advice and hopefully we will be able to prosecute the stewards and the race club."

The Thoroughbred Racing Board is also conducting a inquiry into the stewards actions, the results of which are yet to be handed down.

The AWU is concerned that the loophole will leave jockeys who work in Australia's third largest industry unprotected.

"This is arguably one of the most dangerous areas of employment in Australia,' says Thistlewaite. "Frankly, for WorkCover to claim that a sporting event is not a workplace is to abandon their responsibilities."

Thistlewaite said the AWU will be seeking to get WorkCover's policy changed and was seeking legal advice regarding OHS prosecution of the race club and the Thoroughbred Racing Board who employ the stewards.

They are also exploring other legal options to seek recourse for affected jockeys.


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