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Issue No. 215 02 April 2004  

Something Smells
There is something just a little too cute about the NSW government’s discovery of a budget crisis on the eve of public sector wage talks.


Interview: Terror Australis
The Howard Government has just discovered the nation's ports are a terrorist target. The International Transport Federation's Dean Summers has been warning them for years.

Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Hidden in the Australian Workers Union Sydney office is a mild-mannered industrial officer who once strutted the international cricket stage, writes Jim Marr.

Industrial: The Hell of Troy
On the basis of a couple of hours in the witness box, Building Industry Royal Commissioner Terence Cole described Troy Stratti as "credible". Six men who, together, have known the company director for the best part of 50 years beg to differ.

Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Traditional unions are rediscovering the power of grassroots organising. Paddy Gorman reports from the coal face.

Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
Evan Jones argues that economic policy making has been narrowed and rendered mechanistic and antiseptic.

History: Vicious Old Lady
Despite its Liberal leanings, the Sydney Morning Herald has never been shy of bashing unions, writes Neale Towart.

International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Thailand must end its crackdown on Burmese fleeing rights abuses in their military-ruled homeland, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Review: War Unfogged
Want to go to war but not sure where to start? Look no further than Errol Morris' latest doco-drama for the definitive 11-step lesson plan, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: TAFE
A TAFE student struggling under the weight of fees shares his wordly wisdom


 Gong Points Death Bone at Iemma

 Strip – Howard’s Order to Shoppies

 Workers Victory - We’re Legal!

 Compo Family Exiled to Peru

 Patrick Faces Million Dollar Fines

 Water Quality in Budget Back-Wash

 Feds Dodge Death

 Hard Men Melt Away

 Three Cheers for 36-Hour Week

 Dili Death "Down to Dollars"

 Builder Pleads Guilty

 Maternity Plan: Hard Labor?

 Life – Cambodia’s Grand Raffle

 Thumbs Up for Union Code

 Activists What’s On!


A Voice for Peace
Palestinian trade union leader calls on militants to lay down their arms while the ICFTU protests harassment of Palestinian union leader.

The Soapbox
The Double Standard Bearers
Nicholas Way argues that when it comes to collective action, the Howard Government has different views depending on whether you are a unionist or a small business.

The Locker Room
The Fine Print
While the result mightn’t be everything, it does make the back of the newspaper more interesting, as Phil Doyle reports.

The Westie Wing
Ian West crunches the numbers in Macquarie Street and finds virtue in deficit.

 War And Peace
 Getting Away With Murder
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Compo Family Exiled to Peru

An injured tiler has been forced to send his wife and kids to Peru after doctors slashed his workers comp claim by two thirds.

After 20 years in the building game construction worker Max Masias was forced out of the industry on medical advice while compo doctors hacked his entitlement from $23,700 to $4800.

"We have a compensation system that doesn't compensate," says Masias, who was forced to go into debt to send his family back to Peru, as he could no longer afford to keep them in Australia on his compensation payments of $380 per week.

In 2002 Dr George Weisz, an Orthopaedic Surgeon and WorkCover approved medical specialist, told Masias that if he continued working in the building industry he would end up in a wheelchair. Weisz assessed Masias' disabilities as being worth $23,700.

After Masias' claim was lodged the insurance company made an offer of $15,000. A subsequent assessment of Masias' impairment was levelled at just eight percent, reducing his compensation entitlement to just $4800.

Masias, whose three children are 10, six and four years of age, has taken a stand because "there are plenty of workers in his situation".

"I have seen other families where there is an accident and the income drops dramatically and couples split."

Masias, who says he misses his family deeply, is determined not to become another statistic.

"It's hard to speak up but I have to."

Concerned NSW Unions are set to raise the case with the Minister for Commerce, John Della-Bosca.

"We told the Minister that this was coming when the reforms to workers compensation were introduced and now it's starting to happen," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "Every time this happens we will be sitting the minister down with the workers so the Minister can say face to face to the worker why the worker is worse off."


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