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Issue No. 259 15 April 2005  

Roosting Chooks
It wasnít that long ago that John Howard was the great Conservative leader who wanted to remake Australia in his own image, defending the monarchy, beating up gay mums and attacking the ABC.


Interview: [email protected]
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 Ö

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.


 Freedom From Choice

 Hostile Takeover - Can Howard Do It?

 Premier Sues Miners

 Vanstone Shows Brickieís Cleavage

 Sparkies Refine Safety Tactics

 Ten Cent Deal Cuts Beards

 Kiwis Vote for Flight

 Death Penalty No Deterrent

 Costa Railroads Jobs

 Greystanes Soiled

 Aussies in Ivy league Battle

 Drivers Shake the Cage

 Employers Come Clean

 Big Call in Newcastle

 Bosses Back Gaol for Cowboys

 Activistís Whatís 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 arenít 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.

 Adler Should Be Hung
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Ten Cent Deal Cuts Beards

Tunnel workers on the Chatswood rail link are being told to shave their beards to save the boss money.

Contractors, Thiess Hochtief, introduced ten-cent paper masks for underground workers exposed to deadly silica dust.

Workers say facial hair renders the masks ineffective but Thiess Hochtief has ordered them to have a shave and get on with the job.

"This is cost cutting gone mad," says Andrew Ferguson from the CFMEU. "The real solution is to improve ventilation so there is no need for the masks, or at the very least that something better than a ten cent paper mask from a hardware store."

"This flies in the face of WorkCover order of controls."

The WorkCover rules contained in the OHS regulation say that a risk must be eliminated, and if it cannot be eliminated it must be controlled.

The 'order of control' calls for risks to be minimised by engineering means, such as adequate ventilation, before using personal protective equipment, which should be the last resort in risk management according to the law.

Thiess Hochtief moved to the ten-cent masks after a new occupational exposure standard for silica dust came into effect in January, halving the acceptable levels.

Tunnellers are getting 10-15 minutes use out of each sub-standard masks.

Workers argued in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission that the masks are uncomfortable and impractical in the wet and humid tunnel.

They were refusing to work overtime, or shifts longer than eight hours, to protest against the masks but were ordered back to work by the AIRC.

Inhaled dust can cause silicosis - a scarring of lung tissue which makes it difficult to breathe - and increases the risk of lung cancer.

A WorkCover inspector told the commission the masks were "uncomfortable, you can't communicate in them, they're hot".


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