|Issue No 90||30 March 2001|
Telstra Called to Account on Legionella
By Jim Maher
The latest outbreak of legionella in downtown Melbourne has brought union demands for Australia's biggest company to come clean on its health and safety spending.
The CPSU Communications Union, worried that constant Telstra cost-cutting is jeopardising the welfare of workers and visitors to the city centre, wants proof the communications giant has been pro-active in the face of Melbourne's legionella problem.
The Department of Human Services and Health confirmed last Friday that air-cooling towers in two Lonsdale St Telstra buildings had unacceptable levels of the bacteria. The CPSU has advised Telstra employees not return to work until the buildings are cleared.
But communication section secretary, Adrian O'Connell, said the issue went deeper than waiting on a clean bill of health for the Londsdale St offices.
The most worrying aspect of the latest outbreak, he argued, was that it was only discovered after precautionary tests ordered by the Department of Human Services.
"This discovery was not made by systematic testing, cleaning and disinfecting," he said.
"We don't know whether Telstra is testing any of its buildings regularly, or just waiting until legionella bacteria is found in the building next door.
"Telstra is required by law to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all its employees. This brings a financial cost, and in light of the rigorous cost-cutting they are forever trumpeting to the sharemarket, worries about how proactive they have on this issue.
"We demand that Telstra release figures showing that its financial commitments to health and safety are not being compromised by Dr Switkowski's cost-cutting campaign.
"The company was fortunate this time but they need to understand that, in the long term, prevention costs less than the cure."
Interview: On the Up and Up
On the eve of new figures showing the slide in union membership may be bottoming out, ACTU secretary Greg Combet takes stock of the state of the movement.
Unions: Organising Theory
Labor Council’s Chris Christodoulou reports back from this week’s ACTU Organising Conference
Economics: The Failure of the Third Way
In his presentation to this week's ACTU Organising Conference, John Buchanan painted a dark picture of the emerging labour market.
History: Emblems of Unity
The Gregory J. Smith Collection of Trade Union badges was auctioned today in Sydney. Smith compiled a book on 763 of his remarkable collection which was published in 1992.
Legal: Della's Compo Plan
Labour lawyer Richard Brennan places the NSW workers compensation reforms under the microscope.
International: East Timor Goes Union
Workers in the fledgling nation have established their equivalent to the ACTU to build a safety net for workers.
Satire: Management for the Post-Industrial World
A new management fad is sweeping the post-industrial world, which has major social and political implications at the macro and micro level. We have called it "Purge Management Strategy" (PMS).
Review: Surviving The Temptations of TV Island
Cultural analyst Mark Morey rakes over the coals of American TV culture to find very little is there.
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