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Issue No. 227 02 July 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

A Place To Call Home
These days the Great Australian Dream is closer to a fantasy, where the chances of owning to your own home depend on either inheriting property or winning lottery.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Power and the Passion
ALP's star recruit Peter Garrett shares his views on unions, forests and being the Member for Wedding Cake Island

Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Tony Butterfield became a State of Origin gladiator at the unlikely age of 33. Even that, Jim Marr reports, couldn’t prepare him for the knock-down, drag-em-out world of modern IR.

Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Proposals to flog off NSW’s forests have raised eyebrows and temperatures amongst some of the key players reports Phil Doyle.

Housing: Home Truths
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton argues for a radical solution to the housing affordability crisis.

International: Boycott Busters
International unions have issued a new list of corporations breaching ILO sanctions to do business in Burma.

Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
The absurdities of neoclassical economic assumptions has never stood in the way of their being trotted out to justify profiteering and attacks on the rights of citizens. The AUSFTA is the latest rort we are supposed to swallow, writes Neale Towart.

History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Interest in JC Watson's short time as Labor's first Prime Minister should not detract from his more substantial role as Party leader, writes Mark Hearn

Review: Chewing the Fat
As debate rages in Australia about Fast Food advertising, Julianne Taverner takes a look at a side of the industry that Ronald McDonald won’t tell you about in Supersize Me.

Poetry: Dear John
Workers Online reader Rob Mullen shares some personal correspondence with our glorious leader.

N E W S

 NRMA Reverses Over Turnbull

 Privatisation Kills

 Crikey: Irwin Feeds Staff AWAs

 Nurses Telegraph Fight Back

 "Sexiest Man" Plays it Safe

 Eureka: Bug Swats Hadgkiss

 Macdonald Ponders Asbestos Blue

 Latham Gets Late Mail

 Murdoch Faces Discrimination Rap

 Boss Goes Postal

 Oberon Survives Bomb Threat

 Howard Out On CD

 Telstra Hangs Up On Staff

 Activists What’s On!

C O L U M N S

Politics
The Westie Wing
As the NSW Labor Government sells its first budget deficit in nine years, the real concern for the union movement is the devil in the detail, especially when it comes to procurement agreements, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Rubber Bullets
Labor's IR spokesman Craig Emerson launches a few characteristic salvos across the Parliamentary chamber

The Locker Room
Tears After Bedtime
Phil Doyle says that it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Postcard
Postcard from Vietnam
APHEDA's Hoang Thi Le Hang reports from the north of Vietnam on a project being fund by Australian unionists.,

L E T T E R S
 Letter From America
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News

Nurses Telegraph Fight Back


Nurses at Campden and Campbelltown hospitals are being abused, threatened and spat on in public as they try to restore faith in their services.

They stopped work for three hours this week to appeal, over the media’s head, to Western Sydney people spooked by months of negative publicity.

Nurses took fliers and messages of professionalism into shopping centres, including Macquarrie Square, where a workmate in uniform was recently spat on.

Their two-pronged message also demanded that politicians, from both sides of the NSW parliament, stop using them as political footballs.

The action, supported by the NSW Nurses Association, followed months of negative publicity for the western Sydney facilities, including claims that patients had been "left to die like dogs" by nurses who didn't care.

One senior nurse said more drastic action would be contemplated if colleagues did not receive the resources and support they needed.

Unable to be identified, because of departmental regulations, she said 12 months of negative publicity had "absolutely devastated" workmates.

She said the campaign against Campbelltown and Campden had wrongly singled out health professionals trying to battle gross under-resourcing and under-staffing in critical positions.

The result had been threats and insults from patients; warnings from management of vigilante assaults; abuse in local malls and shopping centres; and, worst of all, patients delaying visits until their situations had worsened dramatically.

"The impression that nurses don't care couldn't be further from the truth," she told Workers Online. "We have very professional people at these hospitals trying to provide the best possible service to local people.

"Unfortunately, the publicity means the public has lost faith and the Government hasn't backed us. It gets very difficult when nurses have to go home and defend themselves to their own families.

"Our nurses have been accused of leaving patients to die like dogs but a recent study has shown that Campden and Campbelltown have a better record on adverse outcomes than comparable hospitals.

"We have been getting a raw deal and health services have suffered because of it.

"Yes, we did have a woman die in our waiting room but only because there was no bed available. That is an issue of resources."

The nurse said that official figures showed her hospital was on Code Red or Code Orange for 73 percent of May. Code Orange means the facility is on capacity and Red indicates no beds are available - "we are overwhelmed".

On any given day in May, her hospital had an average of 10 patients waiting in emergency for beds in the ward. At times, that figure went up to 22.

State Government has poured an extra $7 million into hospitals and western Sydney nurses say they will give new administrators a chance the situation around.

But they warn, remedial work will be difficult, because the publicity has made it "extremely difficult" to attract key clinicians to their hospitals.


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