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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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Sewage In The Streets

Raw sewage could flow in Sydney streets next week after 900 staff in Sydney Water’s pipe maintenance division threatened to strike if two colleagues are punted.

Sydney Water has flagged it will dismiss the workers in defiance of IRC Judge, Justice Boland, who supported the workers at the IRC on Wednesday.

The water utility claims Ron Austin and Tony Bagala carry injuries making them unfit to perform their jobs. But the workers insist they can do the work, are qualified for other roles, or could be retrained for clerical work.

ASU official Colin Lynch says the sackings are the tip of the iceberg with at least 120 other workers marked for termination. Lynch a mass meeting of 1500 workers voted for strike action, and more workers could follow them.

"These workers built the sewerage system of Sydney and were injured, often working in unsafe and dangerous conditions, and now they've reached middle age Sydney Water wants to dump them," said Lynch.

"Sydney Water owes then the opportunity to be retrained and to continue in productive jobs which are less manually demanding."

Lynch says Sydney Water is required by law to redeploy staff.

"You can't tell me in an organisation of 4000 people they can't find someone another job, they haven't even tried."

Bagala, who tore his bicep on the job in 1992, says though he can't use large jackhammers he can still perform his normal duties such as repairing sewers, and preparing pipes.

The team leader, who's been at the corporation for 29 years, says he's only on restricted duties at the insistence of Sydney Water.

"I can do all kinds of fieldwork, I can do plumbing, concreting, work on manholes, bricklaying, and steel work," said Bagala.

Bagala believes he is allocated jobs that simply set him up to fail.

"They're losing an experienced guy only because my manager makes a decision and it's final."

"You give the best years of your life to Sydney Water...the moment you get hurt, even though you get better, they don't want you anymore."


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