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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

Private Nurses Short Changed


Nurses at Brisbane’s upmarket Mater Private Hospital are being dudded up to $2000 a year in comparison to colleagues across the road in the public system.

The Nurses have stopped work three times over the last six weeks after it was revealed that their pay rates are more than four per cent behind other Mater nurses.

Nurses at last week's stop work meeting voted to continue work bans that are set to impact on the hospital's revenue raising capacity.

Bans will remain in place until hospital management resumes negotiations with Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) officials and offers an improved wage rise. The Mater's current offer would see the gap between private and public nurses blow out to over 4.5% or nearly $43.00 per week by January next year.

"The principle of equal pay for equal work in an important part of the Australian industrial relations system," says QNU secretary, Gay Hawksworth. "This offer is an injustice and goes nowhere near addressing the significant wage gap between the vast majority of Mater Private nurses and their colleagues at public hospitals and other Mater hospitals.

"Heavily subsidised by the Federal Government"

"It really is about time Mater management got serious about this issue. I can assure them that QNU members are serious and they inform us they are prepared to stick it out until they get wage justice," says Hawksworth. "I have also received reports that nurses are leaving the Mater Private for public sector jobs. I am informed that in one ward alone up to eight nurses resigned in the two or three weeks before Easter."

"The private hospital sector, which is heavily subsidised by the Federal Government, has an obligation to treat its nurses fairly. It is nurses who keep private hospitals like this running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They should not be treated as second-class citizens in terms of pay.

"After all they have the same qualifications and do the same work as public sector nurses. At the Mater South Brisbane the two sets of nurses are only separated by a road, yet a nurse who takes a job on the private side of the road currently also takes a significant pay cut. That's a ridiculous and untenable situation."

"It is time Mater officials returned to the negotiating table and improved their wage rise offer," says Hawksworth.


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