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  Issue No 61 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 July 2000  

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Unions

Sandgropers Get Serious on Stress

By Colin Lynch

The Australian Services Union in Western Australia in conjunction with the University of Western Australia, is surveying workers across the state's call centre industry.

The survey will assess the extent of workplace injury and stress in call centres. It will also collect data on working conditions and has a separate section which workers can indicate if they wish to become more involved in the campaign.

The campaign involves organisers distributing over 1,500 surveys to workers in the WA call centre industry. The findings of the survey will then be used to identify organising issues involved in the overall campaign strategy.

A special focus in WA is temporary agency workers. These workers are often employed on individual contracts with little job security, low wages and conditions. If they speak up or complain as one member said, "they just disappear they don't get employed again. We can be sacked with an hours notice". An important aim of the campaign is to ensure that workers have more say in how their workplace is organised.

The ASU Call Centre Organiser Michelle Sheehy said, "these issues are similar to those found in other ASU branches. Job security, stress, and individual contracts are the key issues for workers in this industry. Workers in this industry are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect from employers. They have valuable skills, which to date, have not been recognised by the industry. We hope that the survey will be a useful organising tool and because we are conducting it jointly with the university we think it will have important policy implications".

Based on these findings the campaign will emphasise the need for industrial regulation with the proposed ASU National Award forming the basis for minimum standards in the industry. To win this Award, though, will require workers to get organised at their workplace.

"We are not relying on the Award to solve the problems in this industry but where workers get organised, this will set a benchmark from which we will negotiate meaningful Certified Agreements, which recognise the important contribution call centre workers make to the industry" said Michelle.

This strategy means that a fundamental element of the WA campaign is the state's participation in the ASU national activists' network. The Branch has been discussing the role of this committee with activists and delegates see it as an integral part of the national ASU campaign. As Michelle says, "the bosses have got to realise that we are a key union in this industry and we are in this for the long haul. The campaign is built around a long term strategy and vision for this industry. The ASU does not expect immediate success although we have already had some very encouraging wins and are increasing membership steadily".

ASU branches in all Australian states have undertaken specific campaign strategies. Western Australia's strategy will produce the most sophisticated and robust industry data on stress yet collected.


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*   Issue 61 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Technology: Union Rep for Global Net Body
The godfather of unions and the Internet, Eric Lee, is seeking your support to give labour a voice on the net's governing body, ICANN.
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*  Interview: Downloaded and Done Over
In the wake of the TV Networks' digital TV victory, Internet industry chief Peter Coroneus rues a missed opportunity for Australia.
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*  Legal: The Global Millennium Project
The International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) has developed a draft proposal for a comprehensive revision and modernisation of international labour standards for the new millenium.
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*  Unions: Sandgropers Get Serious on Stress
The Australian Services Union in Western Australia in conjunction with the University of Western Australia, is surveying workers across the state's call centre industry.
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*  Politics: New Work for a New Millennium
View in full the ALP's Draft Industrial Relations Policy to be taken to the National Conference at the end of the month.
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*  Solidarity: Korean Hotel Workers Seek Global Help
Striking Korean hotel workers at the Swiss Grand Hotel and the Seoul Hilton are worried they could be the next targets of escalating riot police violence.
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*  History: Vince's Parable of the Sundial
How a working man survived WWII and ASIO blacklists to save a sundial.
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*  International: Room for Optimism from African Poll
The performance of pro-Deomcracy groups in the Zimbabwean elections has given supporters hope for better days.
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*  Environment: Mexican Wave Goes Green
American politics has taken on a Green hue with the left leaning National Action Party and the Greens in Mexico picking up nearly 40% of the vote in the recent elections.
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*  Satire: Aussies Celebrate Centenary by Leaving Country
Prime Minister John Howard has defended his government's decision not to involve Australia in the centenary federation celebrations.
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*  Review: A Building Sings of Lives Lived in Music
Mysterious shadows flicker in the windows of the Parramatta Town Hall. Strains of trumpet and sarod float outside. It's all part of the urban Theatre Project's latest work, 'The Palais'.
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»  Biko Backer Tours Australia
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»  Unchain Your Mind at Melbourne Forum
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»  Union Stalwart Honoured
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  Sport
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Congratulations on the Email Rally in Orange
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»  Dissident Site
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»  Tax Workers Defended
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»  A Reluctant Brown-Tongue
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