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Issue No. 260 22 April 2005  

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.


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.


 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


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.

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True Lies at RailCorp

RailCorp have been caught out telling porkies in a bid to turn the public against drivers, with official figures showing they inflated sickie figures by almost 100 per cent in a bid to derail their 2004 industrial campaign.

Media statements by the CEO Vince Graham blamed drivers taking "sickies" for late running trains, but figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request reveal that there was no campaign, only a shortage of drivers.

Driver sick leave numbers obtained by the RTBU from Sunday, 1 August 2004 to Tuesday, 30 November 2004 showed that there was an average of 34 drivers sick with 1350 planned to be rostered per day.

During this period there were only two occasions when more than 60 drivers were sick and never at any time during this period where there were more than 60 drivers sick on a continuous basis, as claimed by RailCorp.

The real reason for delays was exposed when figures showed that RailCorp was between 53-118 drivers short per day of the planned number of drivers over this period.

Nick Lewocki Rail Tram and Bus Union state secretary says the Railcorp and the government's strategy was to pit one group of workers against another,"

"They wanted to eliminate the goodwill in the community for rail workers and divert attention away from senior management's inability to manage the rail system," Lewocki says.

Divine Inspiration

Information provided by RailCorp prompted Sydney newspaper Columnist Miranda Divine to write, "train drivers taking sick days grind the system to a standstill"; and that "A group is also suspected of using sickies to sabotage a vulnerable rail system."

The RTBU says that the RailCorp strategy was employed during Enterprise Agreement negotiations to make the agreement about one group of workers and not the whole workforce.

RailCorp's strategy backfired when angry train users, led by Rebecca "Captain Commuter" Turner, got behind rail workers, undermining the state government's strategy of trying to blame rail workers for the system's chronic unreliability.

"Accusations made by senior RailCorp management and politicians were achieved by distorting figures to mislead the public," says Lewocki. "The RailCorp Board should insist that senior RailCorp management adhere to the Code of Workplace Standards that require all Railcorp employees to behave honestly, ethically and truthfully,"


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