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Issue No. 280 09 September 2005  
E D I T O R I A L

The Perfect Storm
The mayhem and misery engulfing New Orleans and its surrounds is more than a human tragedy of mammoth proportions, it is the product of a convergence of events that could shift our worldview every bit as much as the attacks on September 11, 2001.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Polar Eclipse
Academic David McKnight challenges some sacred cows in his new book "Beyond Left and Right".

Industrial: Wrong Turn
Radical labour reform is on the horizon but some workers, like Sydney bus driver Yvonne Carson, have seen it all before, writes Jim Marr.

Unions: Star Support
It wasn't just families who backed workers' rights at The Last Weekend, but a bunch of musicians who set the tone, writes Chrissy Layton.

Workplace: Checked Out
Glenda Kwek asks you to consider the plight of the retail worker, and shares some of her experiences

Economics: Sold Out
The Future Fund and industrial relations reform are favourite projects of the PM and the Treasurer. Both are speculations on the future and the only guarantee with them is that you will be worse off, writes Neale Towart.

Politics: Green Banned
The impact of new building industry laws won’t be confined to one industry, writes CFMEU national secretary John Sutton.

History: Potted History
Lithgow is a place with a proud history as a union town. The origins of broader community solidarity lie in the early industrial development of the town and the development of unions. The Lithgow Pottery dispute of 1890 was a key event.

International: Curtain Call
The curtains have opened for East Timor’s young theatre performers, thanks to a Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA project.

Review: Little Fish
At last! An Aussie film with substance, suspense and a serious dose of reality, writes Lucy Muirhead

Poetry: Slug A Worker
In a shock development, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, gave a ringing endorsement to the poetry pages of Workers Online, writes resident bard David Peetz.

N E W S

 Telstra Cuts Off Sick Mum

 CFMEU Pulls $3M Bank Job

 Life Imitates Ad

 Equal Pay Unlawful

 AWA Threatens Kids

 Howard’s Porky Exposed

 STOP PRESS: Bank Pinged

 Thongs Flap Into IR War

 Dad Sacked Over Safety Fears

 News Leader in Advertising Stink

 PM’s Spin Hit for Six

 Daffy Ducks Dud Deal

 Canada Shamed

 Combet Stars At Rooty Hill

 Vanstone Backs Ciggie Salaries for Detainees

 Flicking the Super Switch

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Families First
New Senator Stephen Fielding turned a few heads with his Maiden Speech to Parliament.

The Locker Room
The New World Order
Phil Doyle declares himself unavailable for the fifth and deciding test.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, reports from the NSW Government's Safety Summit

Postcard
On The Bus
A bright orange bus travelling the state has become the focus of the campaign against federal IR changes. Nathan Brown was on board.

L E T T E R S
 Telstra Trauma
 Telstra’s Calling
 What Poor People?
 The Day
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Telstra Cuts Off Sick Mum


A fulltime Telstra worker who collapsed on the job was denied sick pay because her AWA stripped her of the entitlement.

The single mum's contract leaves sick pay in the hands of management, which refused point blank although she was taken off its premises in an ambulance.

The call centre operator, dubbed 'Sharon' for privacy reasons, had two weeks off with a respiratory condition - including several days in hospital - after collapsing at her desk.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said she was working while clearly in an unfit state because Telstra had also denied payment for two previous sick days and her family could not afford to lose any more money.

The union, which has since won her payment for eight of the days, says she was also put on a 'performance improvement program' on the day she returned and given an official warning for being behind her monthly sales target.

CPSU regional secretary Stephen Jones said Sharon got the job 18 months ago on the proviso she signed an AWA. As well as leaving sick pay to the discretion of management, the contract also allows Telstra to alter her hours at will.

He said Sharon was not told why she was not being paid for her sick leave and still does not know if she will be paid if she falls sick in the future.

Jones said Sharon's situation could become increasingly common.

"The Federal Government's radical workplace laws will make these types of individual contracts all the more common. This means that current conditions, such as sick leave, annual leave, weekends, overtime and penalty rates are now under threat.

"The message for workers when asked to sign AWAs is that the devil is in the detail.

"Management talks about trust and flexibility but when it comes to the crunch flexibility means doing whatever management wants," Jones says.

Telstra employees covered by the union negotiated enterprise bargaining agreement are guaranteed 15 days personal or carer's leave each year.

Sharon's issue was highlighted when the Unions NSW Rights at Work bus visited Bathurst, last Friday, at the end of a week-long trip around communities in the state's west.


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