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Issue No. 253 25 February 2005  

And The Battle Begins
After months of skirmishing and waiting for the first shots to be fired, we finally have a picture of the Howard Government’s agenda to tear down 100 years of industrial relations.


Economics: Super Seduction
Sharks are circling your super. From July 1, banks and financial planners will have access to the nesteggs of an extra four million workers.

Interview: Bono and Me
ACTU Sharan Burrow lifts the lid on the rock star lifestyle of an international union leader.

Unions: The Eight Hour Day and the Holy Spirit
Rowan Cahill bucks conventional wisdom to argue the eight-hour day began in Sydney.

Economics: OEC-Who?
The OECD calls for more reform. But, Asks Neale Towart, who is really doing the calling?

Technology: From Widgets to Digits
How can unions grow and continue to successfully represent workers when their traditional structures are rooted in an industry, craft or fixed location?

Education: Dumb and Dumber
Unions are leading the fight against a political agenda that does away with smart jobs.

Health: No Place for the Young
The support of union members is required to help get young people out of nursing homes, writes Mark Robinson

History: The Work-In That Changed a Nation
February 17 marks 30-years to the day that sacked coal miners at the NSW Northern District Nymboida Colliery began their historic work-in at the mine.

Review: Dare to Win
The history of the militant and often controversial BLF is as surprising as it is fascinating writes Tim Brunero.

Poetry: Labor's Dreaming
With another change at the helm of the Labor Party, our resident bard, David Peetz, can't help but dreamily drawing on some political history.


 Signs of the Times

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Andrews Apes Big End

 Telstra Charge Reversed

 Good GEERS Hard to Find

 More Pulp Fiction

 For Sale - Goulburn

 Bosses Admit Pay Too Low

 Yachtie Sinks in Bog

 Albrechtsen Merits Questions

 New Eateries On Menu

 Fungal Growth Blights AWA’s

 Markets Cheer Pattern Bargains

 Mine Managers in Denial

 No Interest In Costello

 Activist’s What’s On


Titanic Forces
There are book reviewers who have not read the book they have just reviewed and there are critics who have criticised films they have not yet seen. I want to review a novel that has not yet been written.

The Soapbox
Labour and Labor
Grant Bellchamber looks at the relationship between both sides organised labour

Aussie Unions Help Tsunami Victims
The union movement’s aid agency reports back on its relief effort in Asia.

The Locker Room
Game, Set and Yawn
Phil Doyle asks if tennis is evil or just boring

The Westie Wing
As a reshuffle of the State Ministry settles in and the Federal Government throws down the gauntlet, 2005 promises to be a new and vital chapter in the struggle for workers and their families, writes Ian West in Macquarie Street.

 Boycott Bunnings
 Just One Thing
 No Dosh For Rupert
 Executions Not Fines
 Howard Needs To Know
 Disability Disgrace
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Mine Managers in Denial

Mine managers are hiding behind worker entitlement fears to explain away rocketing injury rates.

Commenting on a significant increase in inuries at Zinefex's Rosebery mine, manager Fran Burgess, laid the blame on "miners' behaviour".

"They were very concerned about their entitlements; it reflected in their behaviour," Burgess said.

The explanation has been rejected by the AWU, which pointed to lack of staff, long shifts, heat and lack of ventilation as major safety problems.

"It's ridiculous to tie the entitlements issue to the injuries," says Ian Wakefield, Australian Workers Union (AWU) state secretary. "What did the company do to alleviate their concerns?

"They need to look at the real causes of these incidents."

Mine workers want shifts reduced from twelve to 10 hours to address concerns over fatigue related injuries.

The mine went through a period of retrenchments that saw approximately 20 workers laid off from a workforce of 160.

A Zinefex survey showed that 49 percent of its miners did not always feel safe at work.

In 2004 there were 100 injuries recorded at the zinc mine in February, 95 in March, and 80 in April.

Closed Coroner's Inquiries Opened

Meanwhile, A grieving widow's unanswered questions and a union campaign have moved to increase transparency over workplace fatalities.

Pressure from Tasmanian workers and their families has seen the government move to ensure mandatory public inquests are held into workplace deaths.

The move follows the closed inquiry held into the death of Ray Bonney at the Hercules mine on Tasmania's west coast in June 1999.

Bonney's family called for an open inquiry to resolve questions raised after the coroner handed down a record of investigation in 2002. That investigation found that Bonney had been instrumental in his own death.

Ray Bonney's widow Caroline told Tasmanian media that the closed inquiry, which did not interview any of Bonney's workmates, raised more questions than it answered.

"Five years is too long without any answers," says Caroline Bonney. "I still feel that we don't know what happened that day or why Ray is dead."

Australian First

The Tasmanian Attorney-General Judy Jackson has confirmed that, in an Australian first, the Tasmanian Government will introduce an amendment to the Coroners Act to ensure that workplace deaths are the subjects of Coronial Inquests.

The Tasmanian Branch of the AWU has welcomed the move after conducting a long campaign for a more transparent system.

"The message to employers is clear," says Tasmanian AWU secretary Ian Wakefield. "If a fatality occurs in their workplace they will need to demonstrate that they have provided a safe and responsible workplace.

"The AWU believes the capacity to test evidence being considered by the Coroner is fundamental to natural justice.

"Unfortunately at this stage this matter hasn't helped the Bonney family.

"Discussions are ongoing with the Attorney Generals Department in relation to that inquest."


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