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Issue No. 225 18 June 2004  

No Place Like Home
Little by little, the truth is seeping out; a judicial inquiry into James Hardies Industries corporate restructure is exposing a scandal of dramatic proportions.


Interview: The New Democrat
Canadian activist Judy Rebick explains how she's using lessons from Brazil to rebuild the labour movement.

Bad Boss: The Ugly Australian
Prime Minister John Howard is in California spruiking the "merits" of this month’s Bad Boss nomination …

Unions: Free Spirits and Slaves
International capital demands guest labour – legal or illegal – as a way of beating down wages and conditions and, as Jim Marr discovers, the Australian Government seems happy to oblige.

Industrial: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on another workplace death (we-will-not-RIP NOHSC), heartburn for the Canberra consensus and all the action from around the states in our national wrap.

History: A Class Act
The problem of forgetting the primacy of class in favour of other ideas of community is highlighted in a new book, writes Neale Towart

International: Across the Ditch
NZ Nurses Union leader, Laila Harré, is in Sydney this week, comparing notes with the Australian Nurses Federation and seeking transTasman support for New Zealand’s highest profile industrial campaign.

Economics: Home Truths
Sydney University's Frank Stilwell argues that tax policy is driving the housing boom.

Review: No Time Like Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is one part Grim Reaper of the environmental movement and two parts fictitious fable dramatically window dressed with extreme special effects, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Silent Note
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers the current public service motto – "Don't tell the Minister!".


 Multi Bets on China Card

 Community Flags Reconciliation Push

 Nigel’s Ad Values Questioned

 Medal for "Jobs Vandal"

 Schoolies Earn Thousands

 Westbus Drives Over Entitlements

 Circus Owners Cut Up Rough

 Fireys Slam Adelaide "Death Traps"

 Job Slasher Faces Spam

 Sixty Stations Face Axe

 "Sickies" to Join Dinosaurs

 Mr One Percent on Notice

 Stink Over DJ’s Bogs

 Aussie Kids Die on the Job

 Activists What’s On!


The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part I
The Australia Institute's Clive Hamilton questions the assumptions underlying a society that defines happiness in dollar terms.

The Soapbox
The Pursuit of Happiness Part II
Clive Hamilton concludes his analysis, looking at how more and more Australians are pulling back from a marketplace that is no longer providing the goods.

The Locker Room
Sack ‘Em All!
Phil Doyle puts his job on the line, but doesn’t everyone these days?

The Westie Wing
The NSW Government has an agenda on the table but the test is finding innovative ways to finance it, writes Ian West

 Flexed To Death
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Sixty Stations Face Axe

Up to 60 stations on Sydney’s Cityrail network are being closed or short staffed due to RailCorp cost cutting, according to rail workers, who have flagged industrial action unless the Carr government addresses the issue.

Short staffing came to a head on June 9 when a passenger on the Illawarra line suffered a heart attack, forcing the train to stop at Austinmer. An untrained RailCorp Customer Service Assistant was the only staff member on duty to deal with hundreds of passengers as well as the heart attack victim.

The CSA was filling in as RailCorp had refused overtime so a qualified station manager could be on duty at Austinmer.

"This is not the CSA's fault," says Phil Kessey from the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU).

Railcorp has placed a restriction on overtime and, according to the RTBU, is not recruiting at a correct level, with more people leaving the rail service than coming in.

"The Minister and the Premier have been running around for four years saying that the system relied on overtime, now they're saying it's a problem," says Kessey.

The RTBU has slammed RailCorp's excuse that fatigue is behind the decision not to award overtime.

The RTBU claims that it is all about cost cutting and running down services.

"We want people to understand that they are being made accustomed to having less staff on stations," says Kessey.

Rail workers have given the Carr government two weeks to address the issue or face stop work meetings that will discuss 24-hour stoppages.

Train station staff are also writing to parents expressing concern over the safety of schoolchildren on unstaffed stations, as well as circulating petitions calling on the government to act over the issue.

Drivers Idle After "Questionable" Test

Meanwhile train drivers who have undergone testing that has been labelled as "questionable" by experts are sitting idle despite government and RailCorp claims of a driver "shortage".

"The regime of psychometric testing is not an accepted method of testing," says the RTBU's Kessey. "We have drivers that are qualified and re-certified that are sitting on the side because of this testing that has been questioned by psychometric experts."


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