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Issue No. 281 16 September 2005  

Marked Territory
If the mountain of pre-publicity is indicative of its content, the Latham Diaries will read a little bit like a sausage cookbook; full of grisley details about the makings of something we would rather take on face value.


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 wonít 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 Timorís 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.


 Flexibility - Bush Rates Slashed

 Seamen Marooned on Tassie

 Families Win Refuge in Tamworth

 Catholics Nail Andrews' Heresy

 IR Changes a Beach

 Drama Queen Applies Gloss

 Peace a Security Threat

 OEA Flicks Fraud Case

 Auto Workers Drive Union Win

 Bush Adds Insult to Injuries

 Job Vandals Cash In

 Lib Heads Witch Hunt

 Sydney Water Damned

 Super Blue Warms Up

 Activist's What's On!


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.

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

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.

 Dinosaurs Bite Back
 Killer Culture
 Who Cares?
 Do the Bus Stop
 A Touch of Honesty
 Boss Made Me Sick
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Letters to the Editor

Boss Made Me Sick

Sharon's, Melanie's and Tracey's stories are absolutely appalling and we must not allow laws to go through that allow this to become legal. Especially with the Howard's government's rhetoric of "getting sole parents and people with disabilities back to work" using "compliance measures" rather than using law to make the workforce more parent and disability-friendly so that people from these groups feel they can secure and maintain employment.

I have a similar story, although not as bad. Last year I awoke with chest pains. As they were continuing and my pulse rate was fast as well as taking into account previous palpitations I did what common medical advice states, took myself off to hospital. I was monitored and it was found that I had a heart arrhymthia. Unfortunately given Australia's decreasing medical and hospital services I was not admitted but instead referred to see a specialist who's first appointment was nearly month away.

So I went back to work. My workplace was difficult over allowing time off for these appointments and once I'd run out of the five days paid sick leave I was being docked. However at times I was required to work additional unpaid hours which I was not allowed to access when I needed the time off. It was the forced overtime and lack of flexibility that had aggravated my heart condition, however there was no workers compensation claim involved and I picked up treatment gap fees.

This employer had a habit of calling people into the office once "sick leave entitlements had been exceed", stated if this was to continue dismissal would occur over health reasons and any unpaid sick day would still require a medical certificate (with few bulk billing medical centres this was an added expense to a lost day's pay even though additional hours had been worked). Yet when I pointed out about the unpaid overtime and why we could draw on these hours I was told that it was expected.

Upon seeking legal advice, to my surprise it appeared I did not have a

strong case for disability discrimination (excuse who does the law protect if it doesn't protect you for going to hospital in an emergency or taking time off when sick) and it appeared easier to dismiss you once sick leave had run out.

Sickened by this employer's attitude I immediately scoured the papers, started applying for other jobs and was fortunate enough to secure one quickly so resigned shortly afterwards citing their inflexible and unreasonable attitude.

I wish Sharon, Melanie and Tracey the best of luck in their cases and thank them for being willing to fight such unreasonable employers.

Maria Davies



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