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Issue No. 219 07 May 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

The Mouse That Roars
A number of campaigns this week show how web campaigning is reaching a level of sophistication that is transforming it from a gee-whiz fad to a potent industrial tool.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Machine Man
It’s regarded as the most powerful job in the Party, but new NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib wants to build a bridge with the union movement.

Unions: Testing Times
Unions are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing, but they do want to see real safety issues addressed, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
FreeSpirit forked out a motza for a whiz bang internet presence then disappeared right off the radar – once it was nominated as our Bad Boss for May.

Unions: Badge of Honour
Surry Hills is home to one of the world’s finest displays of union badges thanks to Bill "The Bear" Pirie and a supporting cast headed by Joe Strummer, Mark Knopfler, George Benson, Annie Lennox and other seriously big noises.

National Focus: Noel's World
Shrill bosses bleat over minimum wage rise, union spinmeisters congregate in Melbourne and Tassie’s nurses take the baton from their mob in Victoria reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Economics: Safe Refuge
A humanitarian approach to refugees and an economically rational one?? I’d like to see that. Frank Stilwell did, when he went to Young in NSW to look into the impact of the Afghan refugees on temporary protection visas who came to work for the local abattoir

International: Global Abuse
Amnesty International have joined the chorus against the violation of trade union rights in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

History: The Honeypot
To the Honeypot come those individuals anxious to get their hands on instant wealth. So it was in the early days of Broken Hill, wrties Grace Hawes in this homage to the mining town.

Review: Death And The Barbarians
This new take on coming of age films focuses on the coming of death and the dignity and maturity it can inspire among those touched by it - though not always easily in the overcrowded Canadian public health system, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers some of the unfolding mysteries of talk back radio.

N E W S

 Casual Affair Costs Family

 Dob a Driver Strikes Out

 Crash LAME’s Smoking Gun

 Axe To Fall On Skippy

 Internet Replaces Crayons

 Young Lives Crushed

 Feds Move Goal Posts

 Telstra Baulks at Two Percent

 Crane Death Brings Fine

 Worker Breaks Unwritten Law

 Private Nurses Short Changed

 RailCorp Wrecks Weekend

 Thunderbirds Are Stop

 Activists What’s On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 1
Dr David McKnight, from the University of Technology, Sydney presents a new frame for looking at the competing ideas within Social Democracy.

The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 2
David McKnight concludes the paper he presented to the ‘Rethinking Social Democracy’ conference, in London, April 15-17, 2004.

Sport
Out On A Limb
Phil Doyle becomes the first Australian journalist to state that the Olympics will be called off.

Politics
The Westie Wing
In the latest episode, Ian West explores what Disraeli called "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

Postcard
Message from America
Searing snapshots from a landscape of uncertainty have plunged the Bush Administration into deeper crisis, writes WorkingForChange's Bill Berkowitz.

L E T T E R S
 Reprehensible?
 Justice For Victims Denied
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Casual Affair Costs Family


When Michelle Wood’s daughter was diagnosed with two brain tumours her boss told her to take as much time off as she needed – but she wouldn’t get paid.

Last October, Wood took a month away from her Bonds post to be at the hospital bedside of 16-year-old daughter, Bobby-Lee, but had to forfeit $2000 in wages.

"My workmates and boss were great emotionally" she said, "but in terms of bringing money into the house that doesn't help does it?"

She will be one the first workers to give evidence before the NSW IRC in a ground-breaking secure employment test case.

Despite having worked five days a week for six years at Bonds, her casual status means she has no security of employment, sick pay, holiday pay or other entitlements.

Wood applied to be made permanent last October but has not heard back from Bonds.

"I've worked seven days some weeks, both Saturday and Sunday. You give your heart and soul and you apply for permanency and they don't get back to you," she said.

"One of my colleagues has applied seven times."

There are 99 casuals and 54 permanent staff at Bonds.

The Secure Employment Test Case is one the most significant to go before the IRC. Unions are seeking significant changes to the way employers can use casual workers, labour hire or contracting out.

The full bench of the Commission was told last week that steady casualisation has led to a 'switch on, switch off' workforce where employers can avoid basic entitlements by paying a casual loading.

During the test case workers will give evidence about their inability to get bank loans or access annual holidays.

The state's casuals are seeking:

- to be offered permanent employment when they have worked regularly for six months.

- to be paid the same rates as those employed by the host employer

- that contracting employers must offer existing workers alternative employment with the contractor - at the same rate of pay.

The case will potentially flow on to the nation's 2.2 million casual employees - 28 percent of the workforce.

Labor Council secretary John Robertson said it was "appalling" that the state Labor government had "pretty much opposed" the claim.


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