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Issue No. 261 29 April 2005  

Lest We Forget
Just four days separate Anzac Day and the International Day of Mourning for Deaths at Work, but in the eyes of our leaders the gap could be 100 years.


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.


 Employers Desecrate Graves

 Blackadder Bones Boss

 Tights Fail In Flight

 Dick Tracy Booted In Blacktown

 Cops Not Fashion Victims

 Picnic On for Working Families

 Skinny Pay Starves Weight Watchers

 Banks Get Work For Free

 Aged Care Workers Off Their Feet

 Cleaners Clean Up

 VSU Bad for Business

 Unions Urge Fair Go For Timorese

 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.

 It's Criminal
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Lest We Forget

Just four days separate Anzac Day and the International Day of Mourning for Deaths at Work, but in the eyes of our leaders the gap could be 100 years.

On the one hand, we see our Prime Minister presiding over the solemn Dawn Service at Gallipolli, squeezing every ounce of political capital from the sacrifices of our forebears.

On the other we see one his key ministers, Kevin Andrews, helping employers hijack the workers memorial day, blaming the victims of workplace accidents for their own misfortune.

It was a tacky and disrespectful play from a government with too much power in its hands; a government that is marching to the tune of an employer lobby itself lurching further to the Right, driven by ideologues like Peter Reith's old henchman Peter Hendy, the author of this week's outrage.

My question is how can you extract so much political capital from respecting one group of dead Australians, while trashing the memories of another group of dead Australians?

As Premier Bob Carr observed at this week's Sydney ceremony: "our wealth is based on the graves of workers who have perished; especially before there was decent OH&S. You don't get those things without giving trade unions rights."

In this context, aren't these workers just as deserving of respect from those they built the nation for as our fallen soldiers?

Adding insult to the death and injury, is the substance of the employer proposal - to remove the notion of strict liability in occupational health and safety.

The effect of this change would be that where an accident occurs, instead of this being proof of an employer failing to provide a safe place of work, it would spark a legal attack on the behaviour of the unfortunate victim of the accident.

It is the legal of equivalent of the principle "Guns Don't Kill Ducks, Ducks Kill Ducks".

And it wasn't just ACCI desecrating workers' graves this week. Career One's Kate Southam opined that the reason we work unpaid overtime is thanks to the 'Anzac spirit'.

Maybe, Kate's not that far off the mark. After all, if the ACCI plan to neuter OH&S laws gets up, going to work will be a bit like navigating a minefield.

And Kevin Andrews is still working on laws that will turn industrial relations into trench warfare, with unions blocked from workplaces and workers on minimum rations.

It was no coincidence that the last Anzac, Alec Campbell, who died in 2002 amidst much national media hype, was also an active unionist who served as president of the Launceston Trades Hall.

The link between service to country, mateship and workplace unions has always been strong, but it is a reality this government would expunge from the history books.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we should remember them.

Peter Lewis



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