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Issue No. 260 22 April 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

Praying Mantras
The election of a new Pontiff is a moment of cultural significance, a point where the world’s moral compass comes under scrutiny, and not just for the world’s billion-odd Catholics.

F E A T U R E S

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 …

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.

N E W S

 Pope Backs Rights At Work

 Trade Deal Built On Corpses

 AWAs Go – So Do Long Hours

 Sunday Too Far Away

 True Lies at RailCorp

 Mushrooms Mums Fed Bull

 Sewage In The Streets

 Taskforce Stands Over Vet

 Engineers in Driving Seat

 Backyard Funerals Targeted

 Work Deaths Get Permanent Reflection

 Yanks Brawl With Mall

 Activist’s What’s On

C O L U M N S

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

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

Parliament
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.

L E T T E R S
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Tool Shed

The Fresh Food Tool


Woollies head honcho, Roger Corbett, earns $2,000 an hour to be a Tool.

*****

Woolworth's chief executive something-or-other, Roger Corbett, sat down before a NSW parliamentary committee this week to explain his company's policy of no care and even less responsibility.

While Woolworths uses trucks to move its goods about, apparently it is not responsible for drivers' health and safety when carrying said goods.

In this brave new outsourced world that becomes 'someone else's problem'.

Corbett has even been on the telly, telling us all how good this system of feudalism on wheels is for consumers.

The scary thing about all this is that the Woollies boss is currently arguing to be allowed to open his own pharmaceutical stores.

Given his evidence before the NSW STAYSAFE committee this week it should come as no surprise that Roger is a big fan of pharmaceuticals, making his relationship to an industry allegedly riddled with drug abuse very interesting indeed.

He was on the stand for a bit over an hour, or $2,000 worth in RogerWorld, providing the public record with an illuminating insight into the inner workings, or lack thereof, of the country's leading corporate minds.

Before the Joint Standing Committee upon Road Safety inquiry Into Road Safety Administration in New South Wales, Roger the Dodger said that Woollies had only four accidents in four years.

After everyone had picked themselves off the floor and the laughing died down Roger claimed that none of the four accidents was shown to have been caused by driver fatigue.

Besides, Corbett had to share another gem with the committee - his groundbreaking research on lateness.

Corbett showed he was earning every cent of that $2,000 an hour by observing that of the "thousands of items that require arrival on time in life, it has mostly to do with setting off late".

Despite the fact that this will be amazing news indeed for anyone who has ever tried to negotiate the Western Distributor, or catch a train in morning peak hour in Sydney, it led to this colourful exchange:

"Mr Corbett: It is not the priest's fault if you are late for church.

Staysafe committee chairman: That is right but the priest does not turn around and fine you for being late either. Can we get on with this?"

Then our Tool of the week went on to share his blissful ignorance on how long one of his distribution centres had been there, how long they had been "trying to do something about it" (meaning fix its problems), how one of its contractors had faced 273 charges, whether Woollies has a road safety consultant or not, whether drugs were used in the trucking industry (he must be the only person in Australia who doesn't know the answer to that one!), satellite monitoring of vehicles, major reportds into his own industry or, finally, even what is going on with their contractors who lug all this palaver about for him.

All a bit of problem with transparency, apparently. Sorry about that. Won't do it again.

Eventually, his figures of four accidents in four years was set up against the news that one of the companies that had been moving his crap around, Harkers Transport, faced 91 charges in 2003 alone.

Then it got worse for our Tool. The four accidents in four years, none of which involved fatigue, became three accidents with deaths in one year alone - all found by the coroner to have involved fatigue, drug use, falsified logbooks and pressure to make deliveries.

Then it became a case of "Ohhhhhhh, thooooooose trucks".

For a guy running what is effectively a distribution business - Woollies handles something in the vicinity of 2% of all truck movements in the country, no small number - Roger appears to have a very vague grasp of what actually goes on.

So here's a few tips to help Roger out :

Those big things at the dock at the back of the store with all the wheels? That's called a truck, Roger.

The bloke sitting in the cab fuming for four hours waiting to get unloaded? He's called a driver. He has these things called responsibilities, he has to pay his debts on time, obey the laws, that sort of thing. You may want to brush up on these things from time to time Roger.

That stuff on pallets on the back of the truck? That's your merchandise. You know; the stuff you sell in your shop to make the money so they can pay you $2,000 an hour not to know anything and be responsible for even less.

So, of course, even though the contractor is dependent upon you to survive, carries your stock around for you, in some cases even allegedly wanders beyond the boundaries of the law for you, you have no responsibility at all towards him or her.

No, none whatsoever.

Well, maybe morally, but we'll have to explain morals to you some other time Roger because it could take quite some time in your case. And time is money, isn't it Roger?

Speaking of money, while all these drivers are speeding off their brain and Woollies garbage is getting carted to and from their stores, sales rose 14.7% to $7.4billion in the 12 weeks ended April 3.

And safety is such a cost to business...



Show Us YOUR TOOL!

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