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Issue No. 233 13 August 2004  

Australian Pastoral
Now the US Australia Free Trade Agreement is signed, sealed and rubberstamped, we will see for ourselves who was right Ė those who argued Nirvana or those who warned of economic Armageddon.


Interview: Trading Places
New ACTU International Officer Alison Tate cut her teeth delivering aid to developing nations through APHEDA. Now she is helping chart the global union agenda.

Safety: Snow Job
James Hardie has been drilled into our collective consciousness as a story of power, greed and immorality. It is also, as Jim Marr reports, a tale of human tragedy.

Politics: In the Vanguard
Damien Cahill reveals how neo-liberal think tanks have been at the forefront of the corporate assault upon trade unions and social movements in Australia.

Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Donít get between Sydney sparkie Semir Pepic and a gold medal in a dimly lit alley, writes Tim Brunero.

Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
Perfect Porker, Darren Vincent, brings a history of meat worker shafting to this monthís Bad Boss nomination.

International: Cruising For A Bruising
Europeís big unions are bruised as they watch companies roll over some of their best-organised unionised workplaces demanding longer work hours Ė without any recompense, reports Andrew Casey.

History: Under the Influence
Was John Kerr drunk when he wrote and signed the letter dismissing Edward Gough Whitlam from the Prime Ministership in 1975? Geraldine Willissee investigates.

Economics: Working Capital
Where superannuation fits, where it fails and what we should we do about it. Neale Towart gives the tough answers.

Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
There's many a must see moment in Mike Moore's new flick but beating the propaganda machine at its own game wreaks havoc with wearied bullshit detectors, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
When Flood washed away the PM's sins, the truth was once again left high and dry.

Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
During a recent visit to an elderly relative in a nursing home, I was waylaid by an ancient gentleman who insisted I listen to what he had to say, writes Rowan Cahill.


 Hardie Boycott Sweeps State

 Vic Bosses Spit Dummy

 Revenge of the Bank Staff

 Young Workers Grounded

 Stab Proof Undies Arresting

 Carr in Cleaners Dust-Up

 Conflict Threatens Rail Safety

 Stats Lead Race to Bottom

 Spotlight on Olympic Stitch-Up

 Bomber Targets Canberra

 Casino's Gamble Backfires

 Choice in Truth Mix

 Activists Whatís On!


The Westie Wing
The Labor Governments in each State must take the lead to stop the abuse of corporate law in Australia in the absence of action from the Federal Government, as the Inquiry into James Hardieís has highlighted, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Cleaners Deserve Our Support
It's time the state's cleaners were given some support, loyalty and long service leave, writes Chris Christodoulou.

The Locker Room
Half Time At The Football
Phil Doyle wants to have his pie and eat it too.

Faithful Servant
Frank Mossfield was one of the labour movementís quiet achievers. Former Labor Council secretary Michael Easson pays tribute.

Lessons From East Timor
Just back from a study tour to East Timor, National Reserach Officer with the Construction division of the CFMEU, Ben Stirling, writes about the experience for Workers Online.

 Tomís Legal Advice
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Conflict Threatens Rail Safety

Conflict of interest charges are flying after revelations a controversial rail safety program will be tested by its own inventor.

Transport Services Minister, Michael Costa, is being urged to ensure the fatigue management program is independently tested in the interests of public safety.

Unions have expressed concern at attempts by businesses to sell safety systems that actually fail to address real safety problems, such as fatigue.

"We shouldn't be under any illusion, this is just a marketing exercise," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "We've seen where companies conduct so-called research and then go on to market it as a product"

In late 2003 experts debunked psychometric testing provided to RailCorp that was supposed to measure driver's ability to work safely.

One RailCorp train driver was forced to work as a housekeeper after being found 'unfit' to drive by psychometric tests arranged by RailCorp.

Railcorp re-instated the driver after he shelled out $550 from his own pocket to get an independent assessment.

The Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator (ITSRR) has commissioned the Centre For Sleep Research (CSR) to identify acceptable fatigue limits for train crews and other rail safety workers using its FAID system.

CSR's FAID uses a system that, according to rail workers, does not take account of environmental factors that impact on drivers' abilities to operate safely.

"RailCorp is using this tool to override all other factors," says Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) official Allan Barden. "They are expecting drivers to work and sleep and have no life."

"The concern we raise is what the regulator has commissioned [CSR] to do."

Rail workers claim the FAID model relies on an individual to reduce fatigue debt by sleep, not taking into account that workers have a life and commitments away from work

Because it is the architect of the model behind the FAID system rail workers say CSR will be paid to research their own program.

The RTBU has been campaigning for 30 years for an effective fatigue management system for train drivers.

It says fatigued drivers' response times are similar to those of someone with a blood alcohol reading of 0.05. They believe the FAID system should complement, rather than override, other management systems.


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