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Issue No. 257 01 April 2005  

Icarus Rising
Right now John Howard is flying. Watch him soar in his Vodafone track-suit, further than the Hawke into unchartered skies.


Interview: Australia@Work
Labor's Penny Wong has the job of getting more people into the workplace and keeping companies honest. In her spare time ....

Unions: State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson unveils the annual survey of attitudes of workers to their jobs, thier lives and the union.

Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Jim Marr unpacks the unlikely claim of a suburban house to be considered the New Mecca of the New Right �

Legal: Leg Before Picket
Chris White looks at how the federal industrial changes will impact on the basic right to strike.

Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Neale Towart asks why the only form of legitmate welfare seems to be going to the top end of town.

Health: Cannabis Controversy
Zoe Reynolds looks at how drug and alcohol testing is leading to some addled outcomes.

Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
As the indicators head south, Frank Stilwell wonders whether it is the way we do economics that is to blame.

History: Politics In The Pubs
Phil Doyle reports on the increasingly-popular Struggles, Scabs and Schooners day out.

Review: Three Bob's Worth
Doing their best Margaret and David, Tara de Boehmler and Tim Brunero have different takes on the new Australian flick Three Dollars.

Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
Workers Online bard David Peetz teaches how workers to dance to Howard's industrial laws.


 Health System to Subsidise Shonks

 Who Likes Bing Lee?

 Death Threats Shut Campsie

 Thumbs Down for Union Busters

 Advocate Pours Salt on Wound

 United Front Beats Drug Boss

 Kev Backs Double Standard

 Victorian Morality Shafts Teacher

 Doctors Prescribe More

 Multinational Banks Jobs

 Working Class Idol

 Greens Protect Entitlements

 Activist�s What�s On


The Soapbox
Notes From a Laneway
Mental Health Workers Alliance member Toby Raeburn shares a week on the frontline.

The Locker Room
War, Plus The Shooting
The Socceroos aren�t their own worst enemy after all, or so says Phil Doyle

Life Imitates Art
The jokes have been around for some time about the economic rationalist's approach to the orchestra, writes Evan Jones.

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes the secret passage out of Macquarie Street to deliver his take on NSW Parliamentary Committees and other goings on.

 Students Bear Brunt
 Security Lacking
 Bus Lanes On Vic Rd
 Dirt Cheap Right On Money
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Letters to the Editor

Dirt Cheap Right On Money

Well done Elizabeth Wynhausen. I shall buy and read "Dirt Cheap" and hope there is some guidance as to what, as a worker we can do to improve things.

Having worked from home, self employed, whilst my child was growing up, I returned to the workforce in 2000 after a 20 yr absence.

I studied to enable me to apply for a reasonably well paid job as medical secretary, and landed a job quickly. Much to my amazement, "training" consisted of a couple of hours, with an irrated co worker, who clearly

expected me to know how to do the job, understand their software programme, billing, accounting, customer service, terminology etc. within a week, because after that, any questions about the job met with a response that I was either stupid or slow.

I left that job after a year, fed up of working with a practising alcoholic And drug user, who had so much time off, that I was doing half of her work.

Management did nothing to address her problem & simply ignored it.

I was "head hunted" from that practice by another very large and very busy radiology practice, a job I had zero experience in and promised training, as

I requested.

My "trainer" told the manager, she was sick and would not train. He walked away and ignored the fact, that I was not going to get training. I was put

immediately on the front desk, dealing with up to 100 patients a day, with 2

other receptionists.

This involved, reading referrals to decipher the type of scan required,

billing, working out which item no. to use, from 100's, deciding which

patients required barium drinks etc etc.

With a queue of patients waiting to be attended to, there was no time for me

to "learn" on the job, needless to say, numerous errors occured, not the least

of which was one patient being given a barium drink, when he didn't need it.

All the staff were constantly being warned, that someone would be "sacked"

so were always on edge, lots of back stabbing and politics. The more passive

agressive resorting to stealing fairly large sums of cash as revenge.

After being chastised by the doctors for "not knowing my job" then the

manager who had promised me "training" I tore strips off him and left. The

"Supervisor" in that job, had a habit of flashing her knickers at staff or

sticking the telephone up her skirt and into her crutch, when annoyed with


I moved on to another radiology practice, informing them that I had no

experience in the typing of dictation for radiology, then, the doctor became

very nasty and abusive when I didn't learn the terminology in one day, along

with the problem of his thick foreign accent.

At times he would take cash from the taking, not inform us, then we would

spend an extra hour or two, trying to find the missing money. He thought that was amusing.

Although I worked on saturdays too, I was told I would not be paid overtime.

This practice, would bulk bilk the local chinese community, after receiving

referrals from their doctors requesting bulk billing, yet, refused to bulk

bill Australian Pensioners or those on benefits.

I moved on to a Specialist to fill in for 3 months, my hours 9-5, but I was

expected to work until 8pm, wanting to keep the job, I did, and in the

process gave up a TAFE course that had cost me $500. I was not paid overtime rates or reimbursed for the loss of my TAFE fee.

I now work for a private hospital as a secretary to 4 doctors. In the

interview I was promised $20 per hour and a clause to be inserted in my

contact, that I would receive an increase in 3 months.

When I received the contract, I noticed the clause was missing and asked

that it be added, I waited and waited, then 2 weeks later was told, that if I

didn't sign my contact, my wages would not be paid.

After signing it I realised, my rate of pay had been changed to $19 an hour.

I worked 15 hours overtime and since the time sheet had a section for

overtime, I filled my hours in that column. I was promptly informed, that they do not pay "overtime".

I will also not be paid for any extra "ordinary" hours, unless I have permission from the Director, to work extra "ordinary" hours. So at the end of the day, if all the work is not done, I go home and leave it.

Every single job that I have worked in I have heard the same from co

workers, "we don't talk about unions" and "we all have to work extra hours". Most of the younger workers have absolutely no idea of their rights and even if you point them out, they are too afraid to do anything to enforce their rights.

There is an atmosphere of fear about losing a job and not wanting to cause

waves which leads everyone to passively accept bad conditions and pay. It

is time for Unions to have the strength that they used to have, if workers are

to have any rights and time for workers, to stop being afraid and stand up for

their rights.

Kathy Sullivan


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