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June 2003   
F E A T U R E S

History: Nest of Traitors
Rowan Cahill uncovers a ripping yarn that could redefine the way we look at Australian involvement in World War II.

Interview: A Nation of Hope
Former PM Bob Hawke bemoans the demise of industrial relations but takes heart from the prospect of peace in the Middle East

Unions: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on a soap star rebellion, Howard’s plans to renuclearise South Australia, more historical atrocities in the north, the redundancy test case plus more in the monthly national wrap.

Safety: The Shocking Truth
It’s every power worker’s worst nightmare – and it happened to Adrian Ware. In a flash of voltage, his life changed forever, as Jim Marr reports.

Tribute: A Comrade Departed
From Prime Ministers to wharfies, the labour movement paid tribute to Tas Bull this week. Jim Marr was among them.

History: Working Bees
Neale Towart looks at a group of workers who got sacked so their boss could keep making the Bomb.

Education: The Big Picture
The NTEU’s Dr Mike Donaldson and Tony Brown join all the dots in the current debate around higher eduction.

International: Static Labour
Ray Marcelo argues there’s another side to the recent furore over Telstra’s use of cheap Indian IT contractors.

Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Frank Stilwell argues that Peter Costello’s latest budget plumbs fiscal policy to new depths.

Technology: Google and Campaigning
Labourstart’s Eric Lee argues the latest weapon for campaigning could be the humble search engine.

Review: Secretary With A Difference
Looking for a new job can be hard enough, without having to worry about sadomasochistic bosses and the threat of being spanked for forgetting to cross your ‘t’s, says Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Minimale
The Labor Party leadership is in the news again, inspiring our resident bard David Peetz to song

Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
John Howard released a controversial policy statement today, arguing that the Senate be abolished in favour of a device measuring noise from the gallery of the House of Representatives.

C O L U M N S

Politics
It’s Our Party
Long time union watcher Nicholas Way looks at the changing dynamics between the industrial and political wings of the labour movement.

The Soapbox
Grass Roots
In his Maiden Speech, new MP Tony Burke argues that the ALP’s union links are nothing to be ashamed of.

Media
Opinion Forming Down Under
Evan Jones condemns the mainstream’s media coverage of the War on Iraq and the damage it is doing to our national psyche.

The Locker Room
Location, Re-Location!
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a club, writes Phil Doyle

E D I T O R I A L

To the Victors The Spoils
Revelations that private American lawyers, rather than the ILO, will rewrite the labour laws of countries levelled by the American military vindicate the warnings of those concerned by US unilateralism.

N E W S

 Rail Chaos Looms

 Electrolux Blows Fuse at Fundraiser

 ACM Loosens Handcuff on Democracy

 Sick Call on Mum’s Job

 Now For Industrial Shock and Awe

 Brian Miller – Working Class Hero

 Dynamite: Howard Handout for Rorters

 Family Case to Nurture Mothers

 Militants Lock Out Another 600

 Tipping the Turtle – Fijian Style

 Carr Goes Private

 Wages Blemish Sound Budget

 Westie Takes On Westfield ‘Hypocrisy’

 Eleventh Hour Reprieve for Women's Centre

 Activist Notebook

L E T T E R S
 In Defence of Cuba
 The Story in General
 Thinking of America
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Safety

The Shocking Truth


It’s every power worker’s worst nightmare – and it happened to Adrian Ware. In a flash of voltage, his life changed forever, as Jim Marr reports.

*************

Friday, March 26 1999, dawns bright and clear in the sleepy Wollongong suburb of Fairy Meadow. Adrian Ware, 24, says goodbye to wife Raelene and revs up the trusty Hyundai for the 60 minute drive to Integral Energy's Hoxton Park base. Life is good.

Four and a half hours later, at around 10.30am, bright and clear has given way to stinking hot in Sydney's breathless west. Ware is up a pole in Fifteenth Ave, West Hoxton, but not for long.

"One minute I was up the pole and the next thing I was at the base of it. I didn't know what was going on, all I can is remember is people yelling - 'keep still, keep still' and I didn't know why," he recalls.

"Then the paramedics arrive and I'm being loaded into an ambulance. I asked one of the paramedics what happened and he said 'you've been electrocuted.'

I said 'oh shit' and that was it, I must have passed out again.

"I don't remember any of the pain, they dosed me up on morphine but the pain afterwards was ... horrific."

Afterwards is a flexible concept. The first part was seven weeks in hospitals. Two days at Liverpool; 12 in Concorde's intensive care unit fighting for his life; five weeks in the Burns Unit, then another two days of rehab at Prince Henry, La Perouse.

Technically, according to court documents, what happened at Hoxton West that day was this: while workmate, Alan Milsom, was disconnecting a low voltage cable, the tie wire at an adjacent pole, having been released created rotation of the cross arm. The tie wire broke, flicking up into live high voltage conductors, resulting in the C-phase wire coming in conduct with the high voltage roadside conductor at four different places.

Ware is more succinct. "Being on a concrete pole was the worst situation to be in because all the attachments are metal. Up there, there is nowhere to go. I completed the circuit to earth.

"I've been through it over and over. The only thing we did wrong that day was turning up to work and not taking a sickie."

Not so Integral Energy, after being fined $160,000 for OH&S breaches, the Supreme Court ordered it to cough up another $3.5 million in damages to injured workers.

But Ware doesn't feel like a winner, far from it. He's had more operations than he can count and still faces more. He lost his right arm, from the elbow down, suffered severe cardiac dysfunction, has lifelong scarring across his body, and faces ongoing problems with shoulders, chest, hand, knee and leg.

Weekend rounds of golf with the in-laws are a thing of the past as are basketball, archery, bush walking, body boarding and even his favourite haunt, Towradgi Beach.

"I went back once," he explained, "but it just felt really uncomfortable. I could feel everyone staring at me. Besides, I've got to keep the scarring out of the sun."

He can no longer do renovations on the couple's home, pursue the fidgety end of his electronics hobby or work on the family car. His parents, or father in law, come around to do odd jobs and mow the lawns. He can't bath his son, Riley, born one year ago, and doesn't expect to be able to change employment.

Operating his prosthetic forearm, featuring a grip five times stronger than that exerted by your standard human, has been an experience in itself. The electronics manager has taught himself to write left handed but that's not the half of it.

Things change when your arm takes more notice of random electro magnetic fields than your own brain, as he discovered at his grandmother's one afternoon.

Ware had poured himself a coke and clamped the glass in his right hand when someone switched on the television, provoking the arm into a half rotation that tipped fizzy drink all over the carpet.

Then, walking through a shopping mall, the limb took instructions from a flourescent tube, clasping his left wrist in a vice-like grip. Ware found himself seeking a spot out of range of electronic fields, not all that easy in a modern arcade, so he could unhand himself.

"I don't know if it has made me any smarter but it has made me think a lot more," he says. "There are so many frustrations and, unfortunately, I take most of them out on Raelene which is unfair. She's been a rock through the whole thing, supported me from the start and always been positive."

His parents, her family, the ETU, former workmate Milsom, lawyer Terry Goldberg, health professionals and even Integral Energy, after a shaky start, have helped him start over.

Integral were none too popular in the Ware household when they informed Raelene of the accident by playing down its seriousness. Four days later, she got her own shock, when doctors urged her to return to Concord Hospital because her husband might not survive.

Then "one particular individual" made it difficult for him to go back to work "but the union sorted that out and it has been good ever since.

"I like my job, it is what I was actually studying to do but I don't know what would happen if the industry was ever privatised, that might be a different story," he says.

Once he was back, at Integral's Shellharbour base, company OH&S officer Lyle Gadsten did everything in his power to ease the transition.

Ware keeps in regular contact with Milsom, who has since retired, swapping notes on rehab and their respective court cases.

He doesn't court publicity, far from it, he wants to be left alone to build a new life with Raelene and Riley. He did this interview for one reason and one alone. He wants everyone in the industry to take every possible precaution, even when others might think they are over-cautious.

"Be aware, check everything twice and if you are slightly uncertain make sure you ask questions," he urges. "The risks are too great."


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