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Issue No. 212 12 March 2004  

Unfriendly Fire
The decision by Rail Corp to invoke Peter Reith’s hardline industrial laws against NSW rail maintenance workers could cause more casualties than intended.


Interview: Baby Bust
Labor's Wayne Swan argues that the plight of our aging workforce is only one side of our demographic dilemma.

Safety: Dust To Dust
Failure by authorities to police safety in the asbestos removal industry is threatening the lives of members of the public, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

International: Bulk Bullies
An extraordinary five month struggle over affordable health care, by nearly 70,000 Californian supermarket workers, has just come to an end, writes Andrew Casey.

History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Green Bans saved a piece of bush before they saved much of the Sydney’s built environment, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Tim Anderson reveals Australia’s second betrayal Of East Timor is playing out before our eyes.

Review: The Art Of Work
Workers and westies are being celebrated as the cultural icons they are thanks to two Sydney exhibitions reminding us there is a world of art in the everyday, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Wondering where the next porkie is going to come from? Resident bard David Peetz knows.


 Bring It On Costa

 Dodgy Tests Cost Drivers

 Peeking Dicks Roasted

 Serial Killer Cops Fine

 Printers Defy Age

 Actors Bucket "Crap" Deal

 Burrow Lashes Independents

 Perth Loses Ugly Fight

 Ambos Bans -Free Rides

 Millions Rung Up on Telstra

 AWU Publishing Coup

 Deliveries Scratched

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Iraq and Your Mortgage
How high interest rates go will be a key issue in 2004 and if you are looking for a clue, there's no better place to look than the war in Iraq, writes Michael Rafferty.

Hang Onto the Day Job
Show someone else the money, says Phil Doyle.

Westie Wing
Ian West shows why Eveleigh Street’s not so far away from Macquarie Street

Don’t Give Up the Fight
Get Up, Stand Up is the logo of choice on a popular range of subversive condoms. Ken Davis from Union Aid Abroad reports from Zimbabwe’s second city

 Bring Back Gough
 Seven Good Reasons To Save Medicare
 Naked Leading The Blind
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Dodgy Tests Cost Drivers

Discredited testing is being used to discipline state rail drivers despite management assurances this would not occur.

Doubts have been cast on Psychometric Testing, or PMT, by experts who studied the tests used by State Rail to measure driver abilities.

One driver, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution by State Rail management, claims that the tests are being used to discipline drivers who are standing up for genuine safety on the state's rail system.

"They are just doing it to some of us," says the driver. "They should do it to everyone, not just those who have allegedly done an offence."

"It is just another instrument for management to accept or refuse an individual."

The driver was forced to do the PMT test five months after an incident he was involved in. The driver had been cleared of any blame for the previous incident.

Drivers also challenged the qualifications of those conducting the tests, which must be conducted by qualified neuro-psychologists.

"If State rail is serious about driver safety then they would invest in a test to accurately measure workers ability to do their job,' says Mark Morey from the NSW Labor Council. "We don't believe these tests measure the workers ability to do their job."

PMT involves a series of tests that are claimed to measure a drivers suitability, but experts found that one of the tests, the Safe Concentration And Attention Test or SCAAT, has poor psychometric properties and there is "a lack of evidence that it does predict driver vigilance, concentration and attention".

Another test, the Mackworth Clock Test, was initially designed to test fighter pilots during World War II.

A report by registered psychologists found that there was no evidence that the Mackworth Clock Test could predict, with any accuracy, driver propensity for train accidents. The report also found that the test might unfairly discriminate against older Train Drivers who, while still being capable of driving trains safely, may not react as quickly to younger persons on the Mackworth Clock test.

"We don't believe the tests should be used to discipline workers," says Morey. "We have information that this is what is going on."


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