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Issue No. 241 08 October 2004  

That’s All Folks!
Perhaps the most depressing part of this federal election campaign has been the Howard Government’s success, with the willing assistance of the media, of typecasting the union movement as some sort of cartoon bogeyman.


Interview: The Last Bastian
AMWU state secretary Paul Bastian has been at the centre of the three year battle to bring James Hardie to account.

Unions: High and Dry
Jim Marr unpacks the recent High Court Electrolux decision to test whether the ruling matches the media hype.

Security: Liquid Borders
The Howard Government loves to trumpet its national security credentials but a close look at its record in shipping sinks the myth argues MUA’s Zoe Reynolds.

Industrial: No Bully For You
Phil Doyle reports on how bringing dignity and respect to the workplace is undermining bullies.

History: Radical Brisbane
Radical Brisbane extends the 'Radical City' series into the Red North. Two experienced activists, academics and writers turn South East Queensland history on its head.

International: No Vacancies
More than 1400 hotel union workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, are on strike at four major hotels in San Francisco, California, writes Andrew Casey.

Economics: Life After Capitalism
A situation that all anarchists dream of? Michael Albert has been more than dreaming., writes Neale Towart

Technology: Cyber Winners
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks at a good news story of global online campaigning that has delivered a victory.

Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Teaser: Wondering why the polls are all over the place? Ask our resident bard and psephologist.

Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Voice of Southern Labor highlights the role music played in the 1930's US textile strikes, but more than that it provides a lucid insight into the roots of modern capitalism and some truly organic organising, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Telstra Dogs on Injured Woman

 Strike Three and We’re Out

 Boxall Beats Hasty Retreat

 Ashfield Moves on Home Truths

 Pratt in Warwick Farm Plunge

 Robert Reich's 2020 Vision

 Numbers Racket at Yandi

 Executive Pay Blue Looms

 Crazy Mike’s Fire Sale

 Kids Remember Kids

 DIY Security For Child Care

 Canada’s Asbestos Outrage

 Aussie Kids Thrown Overboard


True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues It’s Time – for an IR reality check.

The Westie Wing
Much work has been done in the past to ease the plight of clothing outworkers in New South Wales. It's time to step up the pressure, as sweatshops and clothing contract work are thriving stronger than ever, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Who Started the Class War?
Evan Jones looks across the Australian political landscape and asks who are the real class warriors?

The Locker Room
First Past The Post
Phil Doyle is coming up in class and is all the better for recent racing

Westie Wing
Our favourite state MP returns for his monthly Macquarie Street wrap.

Positive Action
Australian unionists are helping give hope to Filipino workers living with HIV/AIDS.

 Invest In Dignity - Part II
 No Credit
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Telstra Dogs on Injured Woman

A Brisbane woman, zapped between the ears by 240 volts of alternating current at a call centre, is still waiting for Australia’s largest company to deliver on its compensation promise.

A Telstra representative told Jackie Skelton’s union, the CPSU, a compensation offer would be made in the first week of January but, instead, weekly payments were cut and she was forced to sell her Brisbane home.

"I haven't heard a thing," Skelton told Workers Online this week. "My payments were stopped by Telstra's insurer in February and I've been relying on Centrelink since because I can't go back to work."

Skelton has been diagnosed with "vestibula vertigo" since receiving the shock through a headset at the trouble Chermside call centre.

The middle ear condition sees her lose balance and she says she has hit her head and burned herself in subsequent tumbles, at home and in the street.

She is undergoing treatment from a doctor, physiotherapist and a psychologist.

"I maintain that I didn't just get an acoustic shock, I got an electrical shock as well," Skelton said. "I felt heat and pain before the explosion came through the headset."

Chermside has been wracked with OH&S difficulties, according to the CPSU.

Months after Skelton was blasted out of the workforce a mass acoustic shock incident saw at least five workers hospitalised and dozens of others treated in the carpark by doctors and paramedics.

Insiders say the incidents began after Telstra took call centre staff off battery-operated headsets and plugged them into the mains.

Recently, federal OH&S authority, Comcare, gave the facility four improvement notices. It told the company to carry out an acoustic shock risk assessment, minimise hazards, develop an action plan, and implement necessary controls.

But Telstra, which recorded a $4.1 billion profit last year, is baulking at being required to do anything about the Chermside situation.

It is challenging the Comcare notices in the Industrial Relations Commission, effectively putting back the possibility of remedial work by months.

Workers Online understands there have been at least two more acoustic shock cases since around 100 people were zapped in February.

The company has stone walled repeated requests from the CPSU and Skelton's lawyers to deliver on the compensation offer it made last year.


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