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Issue No. 301 31 March 2006  
E D I T O R I A L

Deep Impact
No the sky didnít fall in, but there were an awful lot of acorns falling on Australian workers this week as John Howardís dream of a workplace without rights became a reality.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Organising In Cyberspace
Workers Online speaks to the ACTU's Union Organiser of the Year, Greg Harvey from the RTBU, who has been using cutting edge ways to communicate with a blue-collar workforce spread across five states.

Industrial: How Low Is Low
Neale Towart looks at the much hyped link between minimum wages and employment

Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
The Howard Govwernment has begun rolling out workshops to inform employers on how to use WorkChoices. Sean Ambrose sneaked through the doors for Workers Online.

Unions: Bad Medicine
Nathan Brown reports on how Australia Postís dodgy Faculty Nominated Doctor system is leaving sick workers feeling worse.

History: Right Turn, Clyde
Bob Gould believes news of Clyde Cameronís demise may be premature

Economics: Long Division
Kenneth Davidson looks at a successful political strategy

International: Union Proud
A University of California librarian calls for union labels to increase worker visibility

Politics: Howardís Sick Joke
Phil Doyle looks at an attack on one of the great achievements of the union movement

Indigenous: The year of living dangerously
That mob in parliament house seems to be hopelessly out of touch with Indigenous Australia. So much so, that Graham Ring wonders if the House on the Hill is becoming a Ďcultural museumí.

Review: Lights, Camera, Strike!
Mandrake the Electrician has been down to the video store over the summer and rounded up the Top Ten Union Movies of all time.

Culture: News Front
If the owners are selling off papers, perhaps the unions should buy them says Mark Dobbie.

N E W S

 Doctors Orders - Take a Walke

 Teens Changing the Landscape

 Voters Desert Howard

 Electrical Boss Zaps Safety

 Buggers in Office

 Pub With No Beer

 Telstra's Townsville Shocker

 ABCC: Safety a Gas

 Rough Night Pays Off

 Game, Set, Match Building Workers

 Feds AWA Offers No Choice

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Australian Fascism
Rowan Cahill critiques Gerard Hendersonís unique take on history

Parliament
Westie Wing
Will Westie's Wings be clipped, or will the Hills Angels repent and deliver?

The Locker Room
The Heart Of The Matter
Phil Doyle rolls up the red carpet and celebrates the death of an old foe

L E T T E R S
 Sing-a-Long Unions
 The Earl Speaks
 Market's Blind
 Hi Guys!
 Let Us Rejoice
 Tom's Bit
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Telstra's Townsville Shocker


Another 14 Telstra staff have received medical treatment following an acoustic shock wave at their workplace.

Staff reported one woman, later treated in hospital, was left doubled up in pain for half an hour after a power surge hit the corporation's River Quays building in Townsville.

Telstra call centres have been plagued by acoustic shock strikes that leave telephonists in agony and, in some cases, with debilitating hearing and balance problems.

Workers at Newcastle and Maroochydore call centres have been affected but the most infamous case happened more than two years ago at Chernside, Brisbane, when around a dozen ambulances were dispatched to the workplace.

One of the worst affected people at Chernside still hasn't had her compensation claim dealt with and CPSU official, Paul Girdler, says that is the essence of the problem.

"Fourteen people were treated at the scene, last week, and at least 11 were taken to Townsville Hospital but, the truth is, nobody would probably know if our job delegate hadn't just become a union organiser," Girdler said.

"Acoustic shock is a real problem but prevention is severely hampered by Telstra policies of secrecy and contesting responsibility.

"Telstra's whole approach to the problem of acoustic shock is to try and cover it up.

"They seem to feel that if nobody knows, or they deny responsibility, then they have a safe workplace.

"Telstra brought in the lawyers and fought Chernside claims all the way."

Last week's incident was not the first at Townsville.

A River Quays worker put in a compensation claim after receiving an acoustic shock, last April. The corporation is still contesting that case.

Workers Online understands that after last week's shock wave, workers were back on the phones within 24 hours, with one exeption - the line used by the person injured last April.


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