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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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Peeking Dicks Roasted

Western Sydney hospitals sacrificed staff and patient safety in a "Keystone Cops" effort to entrap workers whose jobs it wanted to privatise.

That indictment was issued when the IRC ordered Western Sydney Area Health Service to reinstate and back pay nine security guards it dumped last year, in a defining Workplace Surveillance ruling.

Deputy President Sams had heard evidence that the Health Service had engaged private eyes to trail workers employed at Blacktown and Mt Druitt hospitals around Sydney, photograph and videotape them illegally, before they were sacked for buying Chinese takeaways during 12 hour shifts.

Evidence in the "Peeking Dicks" case also suggested Websters Security had conducted the covert surveillance for three weeks before a warrant had obtained.

In a 136-page judgement, Deputy President Sams, said he had been "deeply troubled" by video evidence place before the Commission.

He said it had been "clumsy, incomplete and inaccurate" and had had "the hallmarks of a Keystone Cops episode".

Sams said he had been "flabbergasted" by a Health Service admission that it had been prepared to "let a serious safety concern go unattended while the investigation was commenced and undertaken.

"It seems to me that the respondent was more preoccupied with catching the security officers red handed than it was with ensuring the safety of patients, staff and visitors," he concluded.

Sams ordered that a copy of his decision be forwarded to the Attorney General's department to examine the failure of the Health Service, and the private security company, to comply with terms of the Workplace Video Surveillance Act.

Back pay for the reinstated workers is expected to cost the Western Sydney Area Health Service around half a million dollars.

Health Services Union secretary, Michael Williamson, hailed the decision as a "significant victory" against improper workplace surveillance. He said, Sams had found his members had been "unfairly monitored" and "effectively set-up".

NSW Labor Council, which intervened in the case because of its workplace surveillance implications, has called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider action against the employer.

The guards, found to have been "honest and hard working" are now considering defamation action against the Health Service.


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