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Issue No. 245 05 November 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

What’s In a Name?
McDonalds is doing it, IAG has done it, James Hardie desperately needs to do it – and now the Labor Council of NSW is doing it, re-working its brand to meet the changing demands of their markets.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Reich Stuff
Robert Reich has led the debate on the future of work – both as an academic and politician. Now he’s on his way to Australia to help NSW unions push the envelope.

Economics: Crime and Punishment
Mark Findlay argues that the present psychological approach to prison programs is increasing the likelihood of re-offending and the threat to community safety.

Environment: Beyond The Wedge
Whether the great forestry divide can ever be overcome or whether it is best sidestepped for the sake of unity and sustainability in other areas is up for debate, writes Tara de Boehmler.

International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews show us How To Kill A Country

Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Nick Lewocki from the RTBU lifts the lid on the shonky science behind RailCorp testing

Politics: Labo(u)r Day
John Robertson lets fly at this years Labor Day dinner

Human Rights: Arabian Lights
Tim Brunero reports on how a Sydney sparky took on the Taliban and lived to tell the tale.

History: Labour's Titan
Percy Brookfield was a big man who was at the heart of the trade union struggles that made Broken Hill a quintessential union town writes Neale Towart.

Review: Foxy Fiasco
To find out who is outfoxing who, read Tara de Boehmler's biased review of a subjective documentary about corrupt journalism.

Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
Brothers and sisters! Praise the Lord! Brother George has saved the White House from an invasion by infidels, writes resident bard David Peetz.

N E W S

 Unions Dump Labor

 Shearers Brush Woolly Mammoths

 Girls Should Be Short Changed

 Sydney Turns Down Volume

 Minister Rides Collie

 Staff, Trees Weather the Blame

 Offshore Embassy for Families

 Visy Paper Folds

 Workers Unplug Power Cuts

 Silverwater Offers Porridge

 Environment Wiped Out In Dubbo

 Justice Eludes Kariong Staff

 Nelson Flags Another Raid

 Five Steps to Sanity

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Locker Room
In Naming Rights Only
Phil Doyle has Gone to Gowings

The Soapbox
Homeland Insecurity
Rowan Cahill tells us how the Howard Government’s appointment of Major-General Duncan Lewis to head up the national security division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has received little critical comment, until now.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
New proposed legislation in NSW provides a vital window of opportunity for unions to ensure they achieve convictions for workplace deaths, writes Ian West.

L E T T E R S
 Too Young
 Let's Start A New Party
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News

Staff, Trees Weather the Blame


Long suffering Sydney rail users face further disruption as workers look to industrial action to avoid being scape-goated for the system’s problems.

"They’ve blamed wet weather, hot weather, cold weather, windy weather, trees and train drivers," says Nick Lewocki from the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU). "The only people left to blame are the passengers.

"What will they do next, suggest that the system operate without passengers so the trains can run on time?"

RailCorp staff have labelled "mistruths" management claims that late or non-existent train services were the fault of drivers taking sickies.

RailCorp attempts to "demonise" staff came after the parties failed to reach agreement on enterprise bargaining negotiations.

Sticking points include family friendly leave provisions, rostering, equal penalty payments for all employees, quick resolution of disciplinary procedures (which can currently drag on for 18 months) and a move by RailCorp to split rail maintenance workers onto two agreements.

Lewocki confirmed industrial action was likely.

"While the government maintains its current position union officials have a mandate to call industrial action," he said.

The beleaguered rail system reached meltdown, last week, when not one afternoon service ran within four minutes of timetable and several didn't show up at all.

Newspapers were full of letters from angry patrons whose plans had been thrown into disarray by late or non-existent services. Trains are just as unreliable on weekends, even after management slashed services by 40 percent.

In the wake of last week's rush hour shambles, staff reacted angrily to management suggestions that they were responsible for the system's flaws .

"The RTBU is concerned that the industrial relations agenda of the Carr Labor Government is based on the same criteria of [RailCorp's] on time running and will result in the same chaos that is facing the people of Sydney that use the rail network," Lewocki says.

Alex Claassens from the Locomotive Division of the RTBU says people are aware the system is in crisis, and getting worse.


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