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Issue No. 264 20 May 2005  

Conviction Politics
In modern politics even ideology has become a matter of convenience; look no further than the principle that ‘third parties’ need to be removed from the workplace.


Interview: Fortress NSW
NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca on how to win the battle for workers rights - and save the state system.

Unions: Fashions Afield
With new anti-sweatshop creations being paraded at this year's Australian Fashion Week, is equity the new black and are sweatshops the new fur? asks Tara de Boehmler.

Industrial: Pay Dirt
John Burgess argues that the flow-on effect from changing the minimum wage could be more than we bargained for.

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Big Day Out
Neale Towart looks back on the events that created the May Day heritage.

International: Making History
Hundreds of aid organisations, charities, trade unions and religious groups have formed a global alliance called “ Make Poverty History”.

Economics: The Fear Factor
The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning, argues John Spoehr

Review: The Robots Revolt
New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The idea of a corporations power that could cure any ill has inspired our resident bard, David Peetz, to verse.


 BHP Gets Decision to Die For

 Howard Turns to Water

 PM Noses into Pinocchio Territory

 Protest is Child’s Play

 A Baloney Deal Under Fire

 Decapitation Witness Dudded

 Newsroom Bullies Make Headlines

 Nelson Takes Axe To Brains

 Council Unhealthy for Families

 Top End Leader Backs Unions

 A Storm In Every Port

 Greens Go Rights

 Activist’s What’s On!


The Soapbox
May Spray
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson delivered the annual May Day Toast - and warned it is no time to be comfortable and relaxed.

The Locker Room
A Rucking Good Time
Phil Doyle reveals many things, some of them useful

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, is back to regale us with inside goss and intrigue from the Bearpit.

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Decapitation Witness Dudded

A construction worker who saw his supervisor decapitated, and suffered serious back injuries, is unable to claim damages under NSW Workers Comp rules.

Construction Union secretary, Andrew Ferguson, says injured workers have fewer rights than criminals beaten in gaol.

In February, Daniel Reeves fell three metres onto concrete landing alongside the decapitated body of his workmate. The 28-year old was left with a fractured spine and severe psychological injuries.

Because of the way NSW compensation law is structured, medical specialists cannot combine psychological and physical injuries to determine if a worker meets the 15% incapacitation threshold needed to make a claim for damages.

"I was a hard worker, but since the accident I have been told I will never return to manual work," says Reeves. "I received serious back injuries, as well as the psychological trauma of seeing a workmate killed, but my lawyers have advised me I cannot sue for compensation."

Andrew Ferguson from the CFMEU has slammed the system that "shows complete contempt for injured workers, placing them at the bottom of the scrapheap."

"Someone injured in a car crash, or even a criminal beaten in gaol, would have the right to sue and could receive a larger payout for pain and suffering," says Ferguson. "They could also get their lost wages and medical expenses covered, something Mr reeves is forced to pay himself."

Grant Wakefield is another injured worker who has seen a deposit he had saved for a house whittled away since he was injured at work.

"I'm definitely worse off," says Wakefield. "I'm on half as much pay, and it will be at a standstill for the best part of tenyears."

Wakefield considers himself 'lucky', as he was able to find another job through contacts, but knows that many other workers in a similar predicament simply don't have that option, and that employers are loathe to employ injured workers.

Rita Mallia from the CFMEU is disturbed by the aggressive approach taken by insurers, who are pressuring injured workers; threatening to cut off benefits and putting them on programs akin to Centrelink's 'Dole Diary' system.

"It is three years since the changes to Workers Compensation where the government said that no worker would be worse off," says Rita Mallia from the CFMEU. "That's clearly not the case."

"These people are stuck on a treadmill. There is no justice for these people."


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