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Issue No. 238 17 September 2004  

Going Gangbusters?
The Prime Minister has put the economy front and centre in this election campaign, asserting - without a hint of irony – that he is the only one to trust with the national economy


Interview: True Matilda
Former senior bureaucrat John Menadue coordinated the group of 43 calling for truth in government; and now he has bigger fish to fry.

Politics: State of Play
Are all political parties the same? Workers Online tries to cut through the jargon to compare the major parties' approaches to key policy areas.

Industrial: Capital Dilemmas
Public Private Partnerships amount to privatisation by stealth. Or do they? Jim Marr investigates.

Unions: Rhodes Scholars
Tim Brunero discovers how the Electrical Trades Union is doing its best to ease the national apprentice crisis.

National Focus: Rennovating the Lodge
Noel Hester previews how unions will be fighting the federal election - on the ground and online.

International: People Power
Over the next four years there is a real potential a major struggle will take place for workers’ rights and the creation of truly democratic unions in China., writes Andrew Casey

Economics: A Bit Rich
Who Gets What? Why? And So What?, Frank Stilwell reviews the BRW's Rich List

History: Mine Shafts
It's 25 years since Nymboida passed the baton to United, writes Peter Murray

Safety: Sick Of Fighting
Former RAAF engineers could be sitting on a health time bomb, Tim Brunero reports.

Organising: Building a Wave
Community groups, unions and social movements all practice organising, wrties Tony Brown and Amanda Tattersall.

Poetry: Anger In The Bush(es)
How dare any Liberal suggest that the Prime Minister is a lying rodent! Resident bard David Peetz reports on the outrage that this slur has justifiably caused.

Review: The Battle Of Algiers
Tim Brunero writes The Battle of Algiers is a coldly objective, almost scientific anatomy of revolution.

Culture: The Word On The Street
Phil Doyle reports on how the Australian working class experience lives on through the words of the remarkable Geoff Goodfellow.


 Mind Games Off The Rails

 Kodak Blurs Jobs Picture

 Whistleblower Stitched Up

 Ranger Incompetence Saves Lives

 Skelton in Telstra Closet

 Capt Cook Discovers Flexibility

 Optus Opts Out

 Hardie Lemon in Orange County

 One Rule for Qantas

 Mum Takes on Bullies

 Costa’s Train Crash

 TV Clash Using Visual Ammunition

 Mormons In Asbestos Blue

 Apprentices Lose Out

 Activists What's On!


The Soapbox
Hail to the Metro-Sexual!
If the cultural shift required in the workplace to give greater security to working families was broadly accepted the ACTU would not be locked in an adversarial Work and Family test case argues Sharan Burrow.

The Westie Wing
In his latest missive from Macquarie Street our resident Parliamentary commentator, Ian West, walks us through issues around the PBS.

How Bush Lost His Wings
Tracking the National Guard Career of the Fatuous Flyboy from New Haven, Jeffrey St Clair.

The Locker Room
The Name of the Game
Phil Doyle wonders whether we are barracking for the sponsor or the team.

Women to Women
APHEDA-Union Aid Abroad is working to create opportunities for Palestinian women living in Lebanese refugee camps.

 The Abbott Youth
 Invest In Dignity!
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Mind Games Off The Rails

Sydney train drivers are being tested on letter shapes, personality and computer game style skills to determine whether they can keep their jobs.

Rail Unions have notified a dispute with RailCorp over the driver being kept "off the road" as question marks remain about the validity of the ‘psychometric’ tests.

"The psychometric testing doesn't measure anything," says Unions NSW's Mark Morey. "They're using it on drivers and signallers who have made a mistake."

Unions NSW have called on RailCorp to re-instate two rail workers who have been stood down and suspend all psychometric tests until the NSW Premier's expert party report on what tests should be used and the appropriate way to use them.

"We have to make sure they're the right tests," says Morey. "We don't want this used as a disciplinary tool."

Morey alleges that RailCorp is slowly trying to expand psychometric testing to other safety critical areas such as electricians, guards and station assistants.

"It was not relevant to my duties," says Chris Cleary of the tests. "My career is on the line over this."

Cleary, a 16-year veteran of train driving, has been off the road for 14 months and was forced into undergoing the test after an incident in July 2003 known as a SPAD or Signal Passed At Danger.

It was Cleary's first SPAD in eight years. Immediately following the incident Cleary claims he "did the right thing" by immediately stopping the train and reporting it to the signalbox. He was told to take his train back to Blacktown.

"If it's not convenient to take the driver off the train they will leave the driver on until they've returned to somewhere where there is a relief driver," says Cleary.

Cleary was forced to attend the RailCorp training facility at Petersham following the incident where he was first tested with a SCAT test, involving crossing out letters on a page as instructed using speed and accuracy.

Then he underwent a personality test where he had to answer questions about what was most like him and least like him.

Next he underwent a test where he had to pick out the pattern in a line of objects.

The final test involved 16 modules using the IntegNeuro, a trade marked product for "cognitive profiling" owned by the multi-national Brain Resource Company.

The tests included the Mackworth Clock Test, a device that was used to test the aptitude of spitfire pilots during the Second World War.

The psychometric testing is conducted by an organisational psychologist who has never driven a train and only been in a driver's cabin a handful of times.

Cleary is unimpressed with RailCorp's use of psychometric testing to evaluate drivers and says that morale is plummeting in the organisation, which has been allegedly suffering from a well publicised driver shortage.

RailCorp has claimed that it is actively recruiting to combat the shortage of train drivers.

"Blokes are going across to private freight companies," says Cleary. "I think they're losing more than they are gaining."

Cleary would like to see RailCorp address real safety critical issues such as fatigue, maintaining running equipment and the long kilometres and lack of breaks that are being demanded of drivers.


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