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Issue No. 244 29 October 2004  

Raking Over The Tea Leaves
Prepare yourselves; you are about to enter the Twilight Zone, a strange world where logic collapses in on itself, where enemies are new friends and assets become liabilities.


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 MUAís 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.


 Cameron Flags Fightback

 Latham on Union Mat

 Union Shelters WA Roofers

 Bosses Trip on Electrolux

 Drivers Derail Game Boy

 Asses Get Carrot

 Families Pay More For Homes

 Commonwealth Banks on Sackings

 Back Gong Back in Gong

 "Joke" Fine Death Boss

 Division Over Hardie Laws

 Activists What's On!


True Lies
Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues Itís Time Ė 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.

 Honesty Is the best Policy
 Nothing To Stand On
 Itís The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
 Dear Mark letter
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Drivers Derail Game Boy

RailCorp is testing drivers on "Donkey Kong" while a purpose-built, $21 million simulator sits idle at Petersham.

Nick Lewocki, from the Rail Tram and Bus Union told a safety delegates conference how RailCorp have chosen to test drivers on shape recognition, picking the odd one out and letter recognition.

Experts called in to examine the RailCorp tests asked why a train driver simulation wasn't being used to test drivers.

Lewocki says that the tests RailCorp are using, known as psychometric tests, are not designed to test driver safety, but to give RailCorp management an excuse not to invest in safety infrastructure, such as an adequate communications system and proper training.

One test inflicted on drivers involves a computer game style test using what looks like an oversize Game Boy to "test" your brain.

"This would be great if we were getting Donkey Kong to drive our trains, but luckily we deal with real people." Lewocki told the conference. "We have had members who have, out of their own pocket, had themselves re-tested, only to find that RailCorp's tests were way off the mark."

One of the tests, the Mackworth Clock test, was used to test spitfire pilots in WWII.

Psychometric testing will come under the microscope at the conference, which will also hear how miners were Psychometrically tested for their ability to operate heavy machinery by using straws and cellotape to stop an egg from breaking.

The conference also heard from experts on emerging issues such as fatigue management and bullying, as well as receiving valuable information on return to work provisions under WorkCover.

"At the heart of that system is a consultative process," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "Unfortunately not all employers are rising to the challenge."

"We are seeing examples in workplaces where safety is being used as a justification for management to wield the big stick with employees simply to reinforce management authority.

Robertson called on employers to take a holistic approach to managing the risks that their employees face.

"Fatigue is a killer; we know that from our road statistics," says Robertson. "The decision last Thursday by Justice Walton acknowledges that this is true of the workplace as well.

"Fatigue is a serious and emerging workplace safety issue that needs to be adequately addressed.

"This is an issue about impairment and employers that seem to be eager to implement drug and alcohol testing must also show the same sort of eagerness to address the underlying issue behind drug and alcohol testing, which is impairment if they are fair-dinkum about safety."

"The message has been sent loud and clear to employers - they must address risks before workers are hurt or tragically killed."


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