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Issue No. 256 18 March 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Planet Common Cents
The current debate around the federal government’s move to ban compulsory university service fees exposes more than a pathological hatred of all things ‘union’.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Dot.Com
Evan Thornley was a labour activist. Then he rode the tech wave. Now he's home with new ideas on how Labor can win the economic debate.

Workplace: Dirt Cheap
In her new book, Elizabeth Wynhausen learns how hard it is to live on the minimum wage.

Industrial: Daddy Doesn’t Live With Us Anymore
Andreia Viegas’ tells the story of the loss her young family has felt since her husband was killed at work, and the need for justice for families who fall victim to industrial manslaughter.

Economics: Who's Afraid of the BCA?
Big Business's agenda for Australia has gone from loopy to mainstream at the speed of light, writes Neale Towart

International: From the Wreckage
Working people across Iraq are struggling to build their own independent unions – and are successfully organising industrial action on the vital oil fields as well as in hotels, transport outlets and factories, Writes Andrew Casey

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Meat and Three Veg
A new book recounts the impact of the Depression on women workers, writes Neale Towart,

Savings: 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, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Popping the 'E-Word'
Federal shadow treasurer Wayne Swan unveils Labor's new economic doctrine.

Poetry: To Know Somebody
This week saw an appointment to the ABC Board that was even more breathtaking than that of Liberal Party figure Michael Kroger. Resident Bard David Peetz celebrates the occasion with a reworking of an old Bee Gees hit.

Review: Off the Rails
A new play on the impact of rail privatisation in Britain has a poignant message for Sydney commuters, writes Alex Mitchell

N E W S

 MaxiRort in Ballarat

 Beer Boss’ Want Froth

 Facts Ruin Costello’s Story

 Uni Burns Book Man

 Strong Pulls Pianist

 Terminator Runs Away

 No Choice for Small Business

 Scully On Run from Cops

 Picketer Wins $190,000

 Wheat Board on Sea of Shame

 School Raids Condemned

 Tangled Web Weaved

 CASA Cans Safety

 Radioactive Relay Race

 Activist’s What’s On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
The Big Picture
Think about this: It takes 150 tonnes of iron ore to buy a plasma TV, writes Doug Cameron.

The Locker Room
Reducto Ad Absurdo
Phil Doyle offers advice for the lovelorn, and finds that things are getting smaller

New Matilda
Work is In
The rise and fall of the working hours debate in france is relevent to Australian workers, writes Daniel Donahoo and Tim Martyn

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP surveys the upcoming conservative centralist collective attack.

Postcard
Postcard from Harvard
Australian union officials making the annual pilgrimage to the Harvard Trade Union Program learnt that, at least, they are not alone, says Natalie Bradbury.

L E T T E R S
 Poor Prose Praised
 Fabulous Fan Mail
 Skilled Tools
 Nelson ‘Solves’ Skills Crisis
 Loyalty Nonsense
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Radioactive Relay Race


The Electrical Trades Union has knocked over a plan to remove radioactive water relays on the cheap.

An 11th hour agreement with Energy Australia will limit the chance of members being exposed to radiation through the slipshod work of bodgie contractors.

ETU members raised concerns about the prospect of radiation exposure if work on 5000 NSW homes was contracted to the lowest-price tenderer.

Organiser Steve Butler said the corporation's track record led to fears it would contract work on the obsolete Zellwegger relays, exposing electrical workers to unnecessary risks.

The energy provider had claimed outsourcing was required to beat a July deadline, imposed by Chinese waste dumps.

"Our view always was that if hot water relays were enough of a worry to warrant removal, that work should be done in the safest possible way," Butler said.

Energy Australia had known about the obsolete and potentially hazardous relays for over five years. In 2000 it developed a safe removal method with the ETU but work only began 18 months ago.

Butler says the corporation has had plenty of time to do the job.

The ETU argued Energy Australia had enough staff to complete the removal before July and saw contracting as part of a broader push to take work away from permanent employees.

Zellweger ZE22/3 relays spread off peak load evenly by regulating when hot water systems fire up. Their glow tubes contain radioactive isotopes Tritium and Radium.


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