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March 2004   

Interview: Baby Bust
Labor's Wayne Swan argues that the plight of our aging workforce is only one side of our demographic dilemma.

Safety: Dust To Dust
Failure by authorities to police safety in the asbestos removal industry is threatening the lives of members of the public, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
Delegates from print shops around Sydney will publicly shame this month’s Bad Boss nominee with a rally outside his new Alexandria operation next Thursday.

National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

International: Bulk Bullies
An extraordinary five month struggle over affordable health care, by nearly 70,000 Californian supermarket workers, has just come to an end, writes Andrew Casey.

History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Green Bans saved a piece of bush before they saved much of the Sydney’s built environment, writes Neale Towart

Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Tim Anderson reveals Australia’s second betrayal Of East Timor is playing out before our eyes.

Review: The Art Of Work
Workers and westies are being celebrated as the cultural icons they are thanks to two Sydney exhibitions reminding us there is a world of art in the everyday, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Wondering where the next porkie is going to come from? Resident bard David Peetz knows.


The Soapbox
Iraq and Your Mortgage
How high interest rates go will be a key issue in 2004 and if you are looking for a clue, there's no better place to look than the war in Iraq, writes Michael Rafferty.

Hang Onto the Day Job
Show someone else the money, says Phil Doyle.

Westie Wing
Ian West shows why Eveleigh Street’s not so far away from Macquarie Street

Don’t Give Up the Fight
Get Up, Stand Up is the logo of choice on a popular range of subversive condoms. Ken Davis from Union Aid Abroad reports from Zimbabwe’s second city


Be Afraid
Elections are to be held both here and with our controlling shareholder this year and already we are getting the feel for how the incumbents will attempt to cling onto power: fear spiced with loathing.


 Taskforce "Disgraced" in Court

 Students Take $10,000 Trim

 Truckers Lose Way With GPS

 Jockeys Down by Width of Strait

 Treasury Loses Sight of Trees

 Athens Built on Sweat

 Signing Away Safety

 Fallen Formworker Critical

 Stop or You’ll Stay Blind

 Bracks Spin Machine Towels Nurses

 Trade Deal Fuzzy on Content

 Good Will Still Hunting on Rail

 Developer "Monsters" Safety Cop

 Day Off for May Day

 Activists What's On!

 Bring Back Bulk Billing
 Crucifying Refugees
 Saving The Planet
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National Focus

Work's Cripplin' Us

Noel Hester reports on a spin doctors' talkfest, workplace pain, stroppy teachers and IWD party time in the national wrap.

The ACTU launched a national health and safety campaign this week targeting 'work strain' among people with high pressure jobs.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow says new research finds work strain is estimated to contribute to as many as 4000 new injuries every week -- or an injury every 2.5 minutes in Australian workplaces.

"What is most alarming is that the research shows that work strain is affecting large numbers of people in industries traditionally not associated with big health and safety risks," she says.

"Call centre workers, nurses, teachers, office and retail workers are increasingly the victims of work strain injury as well as people in more traditional high risk jobs in manufacturing, constructing, transport and distribution."

"The research shows that the key factors in work strain are excessive workloads, long hours, job insecurity, and a lack of control over one's work in combination with physical aspects such as lifting and carrying loads, poor posture, and exertion."

Spin doctors of the world unite

Ah, the life of a union media officer: alone and unappreciated, sweating away in the garret making everyone else look good, making silk purses out of ... (mmm, might have to rework that last message!). Anyway your time has come! The ACTU will be hosting a union media and communications workshop on April 22-23 for these poor neglected souls.

There will be plenty of interesting speakers from inside and outside the movement talking about how to deal with the mass media, union media in industrial disputes, messaging, organising, unions and the web and union publications.

There'll even be a dinner on the Thursday night when participants will be expected to practice what they've learnt and spin bullshit to each other.

For more information contact Debi Bruce at the ACTU - [email protected]

Around the states

In Victoria teachers took to the streets en masse this week to vent their anger at the Bracks Government's offer of a 2.25% salary increase. Over 9,000 AEU members attended a stopwork meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday before marching on Treasurer John Brumby's office in protest.

The Victorian Independent Education Union has decided to call out their 16,000 Catholic teachers to take action on the same day. This is the first time in Victoria's history that Catholic and public school teachers have taken stopwork action on the same issue on the same day.

The Victorian Trades and Labor Council wants to remind those interested to book your tickets for the Labour Day Dinner Dance to be held at the Moonee Valley Racing Club on Friday 12th March.

In Tasmania this morning a successful launch of the OHS campaign saw a prominent medical expert Dr Peter Sharman backing union claims that psycho-social factors (for the medical language-challenged that means stuff like work overload, fewer staff, job insecurity) contribute to pain and strain injuries.

On the party front, woman unionists are planning to let the good times roll at a brunch in parliament grounds to celebrate International Woman's Day on Monday.

In Queensland this week the Queensland Council of Unions ran its second "Know you Rights" week in Toowoomba encouraging workers to be aware of their rights in the workplace.

As well as union officials visiting Toowoomba workplaces, the campaign also saw the running of courses, seminars and information sessions for union delegates. These included advanced delegates/activists training course; workplace health and safety course; WorkCover seminar run by the QCU's Workers' Compensation Advisory Service; and pay equity information sessions to brief dental assistants and child care workers on the LHMU's applications under the Equal Remuneration Principle.

QCU General Secretary Grace Grace launched the campaign at Toowoomba Trades Hall on Monday 1 March saying that the QCU's "Know your Rights" campaigns were part of the union movement's commitment to regional Queensland and were aimed at ensuring workers in the area were aware of their rights and entitlements.

The first "Know your Rights" campaign was run in Gladstone in June 2003. The QCU is currently looking at holding another campaign in regional Queensland in the second half of 2004.


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