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Issue No. 221 21 May 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

Wage Fixing
The Premier’s attempt to cajole the NSW Industrial Relations Commission - and his subsequent eleventh hour bid to reopen wage negotiations - is about a lot more than the teachers' pay claim.

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

 Chalkies Draw Line In Sand

 Porkies Leave Shearers In Tents

 Dust Flies In Asbestos Blue

 Joel’s Law One Step Closer

 BHP In Hedland Horror

 Occupation Focuses Anglo Minds

 STOP PRESS - Mitsubishi Carves Up SA

 Ties That Bind

 Fair Play At The Olympics

 Rally Demands Boss’ Head

 Nurses Stake Aged Claim

 Labor To Roll Up Sleeves

 Feds Take Axe To Safety

 AWU Remembers 9-11 Victim

 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
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News

Feds Take Axe To Safety


Workers and bosses have joined forces to slam a move by the Federal Government to abolish its peak national workplace safety body.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews announced last week that the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) would be pared back to become a "ministerial advisory group".

The 18-member body, made up of employer, union and government representatives, coordinates campaigns to prevent workplace death, injury and disease and is staffed by public service researchers.

"With 13 workers dying in Victoria just this year the Federal Government's move to abolish NOHSC is tantamount to winding back the clock on national standards in health and safety in the workplace, and could put workers' lives at risk," says Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary Leigh Hubbard. "To suggest that the work on health and safety is done and can be relegated to a small committee is an insult to those who have been injured or died on the job."

"The Howard Government's decision to hand those [safety] functions over to the Department of Workplace Relations raises questions about the continuing role of workers and employer representatives in formulating health and safety standards," says CFMEU Construction National Secretary John Sutton. "With over 50 construction deaths per year, our industry needs stronger health and safety standards and more investment, not less."

Employers and unions have criticised the move as a cost cutting measure that could undermine moves towards national health and safety standards.

"It will leave the commission with no research ability," says Victoria's Industrial Relations Minister Rob Hulls.

More than 450 people die in Australian workplaces every year, with up to 8,200 deaths per year attributable to workplace-related injuries, according to a study by Access Economics.


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