||Issue No. 212||12 March 2004|
Interview: Baby Bust
Safety: Dust To Dust
Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
International: Bulk Bullies
History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Review: The Art Of Work
Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Seven Good Reasons To Save Medicare
Naked Leading The Blind
Bring It On Costa
Labor Council secretary John Robertson made that plain this week when he challenged his predecessor to "bring it on".
"We are not going to watch one, two or three of our affiliates being picked off because this Government is trying to protect its own arse from the shambles it has created in rail or health," Robertson told Council delegates.
"If they (State Government) are looking for a blue with the trade union movement, then bring it on. We are ready for this."
Robertson was reacting to rail management's use of Section 127 orders to force striking rail maintenance workers back to the job on pain of gaol, escalating fines and deregistration. There had been tacit agreement between unions and politicians that State Labor Government would not use the far-reaching orders, devised by former federal Workplace Relations Minister, Peter Reith, against NSW employees.
Workers had been protesting against the disciplining of workers under new drug and alcohol testing policies forced through by Costa without consultation.
AMWU secretary Paul Bastian said his organisation had been trying to meet with Costa over the issue since last October.
"Let me make it perfectly clear the union has never objected to drug and alcohol testing," he said. "In fact, it is rail workers themselves who are at most risk from a fellow worker unfit for work.
Bastian said the union had been insisting that tests were objective and reliable; administered fairly; and backed by education and rehabilitation systems.
He called Costa's willingness to reach for Coalition legislation "extraordinary" and a "grave warning" to all trade unionists.
Antagonisms were heightened by orders only being sought against members of the AMWU, although industrial action was also being undertaken by workers belonging to the ETU and RTBU - traditional members of Costa's Labor Right faction.
RTBU secretary, Nick Lewocki, endorsed Bastian's warning.
"Our members will now be looking to a future federal Labor Government to protect us from the Howard-Costello and Carr-Costa anti-worker policies," he said.
Five years ago, when Costa was Labor Council secretary, he sponsored a resolution demanding answers on why the State Rail Authority, back then, had "contravened the NSW State Labor Government policy of not using Section 127 orders against a trade union".
Robertson accused state rail management of manipulating the dispute to heighten public disruptions.
"The reality is any disruption that occurred was the fault of management who went out of their way to "defect" as many trains as they possibly could.
"It's clear the rail system is in a mess and management, and now the state government, are trying to shift the blame for that onto their own employees," he said.
Observers are predicting a major showdown if State Government is unable to patch up its relationship with Labor Council affiliates before rail enterprise bargaining agreements expire over the next couple of months.
Big Brothers Bad For Business
Meanwhile a report in a leading UK safety magazine has slammed secret monitoring of employees as a "folly" that affects the business bottom line and is bad for productivity and workers health.
'Stop snooping', a report by Hazardsmagazine revealed that secret cameras installed in a female locker room used by staff to change were discovered by workers - with the employer claiming that the cameras were "installed in the wrong room".
The full Hazards report is available online at www.hazards.org/privacy
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