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Issue No. 209 20 February 2004  

Regions To Be Cheerful
Rule changes endorsed by this weekís NSW Labor Council Annual General Meeting reorganising the South Coast Labor Council into as a regional branch council should not be under-estimated.


Interview: Trading in Principle
AMWU national secretary, Doug Cameron, a key figure in the Labor movement, discusses the big issues - from Mark Latham to Pavlovís Dogs.

Unions: While We Were Away
While Workers Online was washing sand from between its toes and enjoying an Indian summer at the cricket, there was a reality show chugging relentlessly away in the background, Jim Marr reports.

Politics: Follow the Leader
Workerís Online tool man, Phil Doyle, dives into the ALPís Darling Harbour love-in and nearly drowns in treacle.

Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
The CFMEU has come up with a killer nomination to kick off our 2004 hunt for Australiaís worst employer.

Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
British academic, Kevin Doogan, sets the record straight on casualisation and warns unionists about the dangers of scoring an own goal

History: Worker Control Harco Style
Drew Cottle and Angela Keys ask if it's worth rememberinng the 1971 Harco work-in.

Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
The 1998 maritime dispute threatened to tear many a family apart but Katherine Thomson's Harbour tells the tale of at least one that it brought back together - albeit reluctantly, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Trains Go Backwards

 Mum Canít Bank on Westpac

 Andrews Up for Hanke Panky

 Riot Raises Safety Probe

 ABC of Solidarity

 "Shameful" Action Pays Dividends

 Bum Rap for Bump Caps

 Strikers Tie Down Gas Project

 Heat Rises at Uni

 TeleTech's Dead Heart

 Tired Drivers Fight Hypocrisy

 Seven Days on a Leaking Boat

 Families Back Safety Calls

 Howard Pushes Pay Cut

 Activist's Notebook


The Soapbox
Dog Whistlers, Spin Doctor and Us
John Menadue argues the "better angels" of the Australian character are having their wings ripped off by an ever-expanding group dedicating to keeping the public at arms length from our decision-makers.

Something Fishy In Laos
Phillip Hazelton fishes around in Vientiane, Laos, and looks at the impact of Bird Flu on those relying on feathered friends for survival.

Magic Realism
Phil Doyle discovers that literature and sport may have more in common than you would think

The Westie Wing
Trickle, flood or drought? Workers friend Ian West, MLC, is wet, wet, wet on the issue of bilateral Free Trade.

 On the Road
 A Casual Affair
 Latham Is A Bad Man
 Congrats Johnny
 Tomís Bit
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Bum Rap for Bump Caps

A Qantas issue Bump Cap didnít prevent a Sydney Airport engineer being sat on his backside when a workmate struck it with a spanner, recently.

The trendy, baseball-style caps, fitted with a protective plastic lining, are at the centre of a wrangle that has seen some engineers accuse the national carrier of "window dressing" over safety.

Long-serving ALAEA delegate at Sydney Base Maintenance, Steve Fenech, refuses to don the caps, despite Qantas having declared them "mandatory" for heavy maintenance workers and "recommended" for other employees.

"I won't wear the things because I honestly don't believe they improve our safety," Fenech says. "My personal position is that they make our situation worse."

Fenech concedes the issue reported above was the result of smoko room tom foolery but insists it contains a warning about the equipment Qantas dished out to engineers three months ago.

The engineer struck by the spanner had removed the protective lining and, basically, took the force of spanner on his head but, Fenech says, that is going to happen because the plastic lining is designed to be removable.

He says long peaks limit visibility during close quarter technical work, increasing the likelihood of bumps, and there are at least two problems with the lineing.

Being plastic, it breaks on impact, and at least two workmates have had their scalps cut as a result and, in hot weather, it is extremely uncomfortable.

"I mean, it's plastic," Fenech said, "it doesn't breathe at all. These caps are extremely uncomfortable in the heat. Within 15 minutes of putting them on you are sweating profusely, sweat gets in your eyes, limiting your vision, and you get scalp irritations.

"They are very uncomfortable and that's why guys take the lineing out."

Fenech says the Bump Caps are "typical Qantas window dressing - We'll comply with anything that makes our workplace safer but these things don't improve our situation at all."


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