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Issue No. 304 28 April 2006  

Canaries in the Coalmine
It was one of the defining symbols of the industrial era and the tenuous nature of working life – the bird in the cage whose expiration was a miner’s early warning that things were not OK.


Interview: Head On
John Buchanan has been warning that WorkChoices would be a car crash. Now he surveys the damage.

Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
CFMEU Mining national secretary Tony Maher lets fly at the new industrial laws.

Industrial: Vital Signs
In his new book, Craig Emerson argues that destroying unionism will not be in Australia's long term interests.

Economics: Taxing Times
Frank Stilwell argues that there are progressive alternatives to the slash and burn approach to tax reform.

Environment: It Ain’t Necessarily So
Don't let anyone tell you that jobs and the environment are opposities, argues Neale Towart.

History: Melbourne’s Hours
Neale Towart reluctantly pays homage to Victoria's celebration of the eight hour day.

Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
John Howard is deciding more and more foreign workers should come into this country - without the rights of citizenship, writes John Sutton,

Review: Pollie Fiction
For someone barely 25 years Sarah Doyle has an enviable track record in theatre behind her.

Poetry: The Cabal
Poetry returns to Workers Online with this rollicking ode to employer power.


 Hit Run Mum Bats For Son

 Revealed: Bosses Told To Blame Howard

 Amber Light for Pay Cuts

 Andrews Backs Armed Hold Ups

 New Front on High Court Attack

 Homer Takes Rights to India

 Tunnel Vision a “Disgrace”

 Mining Vigil at Day of Mourning

 Dad's Death Revisited

 Canberra Confidential, Andrews on the Run

 Rock Solid Tony For Sale

 SA Boss Not Trusted With Kids

 Army Declares War On Workers

 Unions Take On Space Invaders

 Activist's What's On!


Democracy in Action
Former NSW Premier Neville Wran's speech to commemorate 150 years of responsible government.

The Westie Wing
There has been activity aplenty in the NSW Parliament this month, reports Ian West.

The Soapbox
From Chaver to Cobber
John Robertson, Unions NSW Secretary, hosting Passover at Sydney Trades Hall discovers the first comrades followed a bloke called Moses.

Postcard from New Orleans
Mark Brenner surveys the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina on the regions workers.

The Locker Room
My Country Right Or In Lane Five
Phil Doyle observes the golden shower at the recent Commonwealth Games, and asks what it means for the last great unpredictable drama.

Vale Bill Hartley
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill Hartley never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets, writes Bob Scates.

 Win in the Post
 Belly Battles
 Answer is Easy
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Army Declares War On Workers

A nurse has been sacked by the military after expressing concern over the health of a soldier.

Wagga Wagga nurse, Anne Woodward, asked her boss why a 000 ambulance was made to sign in at the front gates of an army base and escorted at 40 kph to pick up a soldier who had a heart attack and needed to be urgently transferred to hospital.

Woodward was given an hour to clean out her desk, with the Military Police to be called if she was not gone by that time, on the advice of the commanding officer of Kapooka Health Centre (KHC).

"Ms Woodward wanted to know if management knew about the incident and asked what was being done to prevent a reoccurrence," says NSWNA Acting Secretary, Judith Kiejda. "As the Nurse Manager she understandably wanted to ensure protocols were in place that prevented life threatening delays, which could result in the death of a recruit or Defence Force member.

"However, apparently it is not acceptable to ask these types of questions."

A list of reasons for her removal was not provided for 13 days after her dismissal on March 29, because Woodward was technically employed by a nursing agency, RED Alliance.

Senior Health Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Langworthy, told nurses at KHC that the ADF was not technically their employer. He reportedly said nurses have no right to appeal and the traditional concepts of natural justice and procedural fairness do not apply because Defence is technically not the employer.

"If this has nothing to do with Defence then why can a person be arbitrarily dismissed at the request of a Defence Force employee?"

"These dubious employment practices, which allow the real employer to avoid responsibility, have become common place under the Howard Government's industrial relations changes and here we have one of the Federal Government's own departments up to its neck in such practices," Ms Kiejda said.

The NSWNA has also filed an unfair dismissal case, on behalf of Ms Woodward, with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, but it is still unclear of its status under the new federal industrial relations laws. Ms Woodward was removed from her position at KHC two days after those laws came into effect. RED Alliance advises the NSWNA it does not have 100 employees and, if that is true, it is now exempt from unfair dismissal laws.

The news comes as the Australian Army is currently casting performers for a training DVD on a non-union contract.

The job pays $350 for a ten-hour day and $225 for a half day. The usual Award minimum ensures a performer $626.75 for a full day, corporate video work, according to the Equity division of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

The Army also wants the right to adapt the performance for other uses without performer consent.


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