Analysis: The Covid Stress Test

The Covid-19 pandemic is a stress test for societies at a global scale. The virus has been ruthless in exposing underlying fault lines and weaknesses in almost all countries, while also revealing strengths.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Ryan Stanton

 

Ryan Stanton
Formerly NUW (now UWU), currently ETU
Current rank and file member, previous NUW delegate and HSR

How long have you been a union member?

12 years.

Why did you join the union?

I became a member of Socialist Alternative. I was convinced to do union activism through the broader political convictions of revolutionary socialism. The working class is key to any project of progressive social change, especially social revolution.

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OHS Matters: Workplace COVIDSafe Plan

 

“Hi, I just want to know if, on returning to our workplace, managers can elect NOT to wear masks under “COVID-normal” ops? I do and was never asked not to, just the same, is the law not strong on this?”

 

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Analysis: Health Care in Australia

 

Australia has a good health care system when compared to most of the world. It provides access to primary heath services, hospitals and medication for the vast majority of its citizens at no or low cost. This is achieved through Medicare, the PBS and the public hospital system. It is far better than the American situation where health care is almost fully profit-driven, wildly expensive and completely out of reach of the poor and uninsured. However Australia’s claim to have a universal heath care system is not true, when many vital services are only available privately – dental care and mental health care being two of the most obvious examples.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Lourdes Garcia Larqué

 

Lourdes Garcia Larqué
Rank and file member and sub-branch Women’s Officer of the AEU, Victoria

How long have you been a union member?

I have been an AEU member since I was a student-teacher in 2013, before that I have also been a union organiser in what is now the United Workers Union

Why did you join the union?

Since I moved to Australia from Mexico I was able to see how organised workers campaigned for health and safety in industries that back in my country are incredibly dangerous or precarious like construction, mining or sanitation. Years ago, I worked at what used to be the Miscellaneous Worker Union, campaigning with the cleaners. As soon as I became a teacher I just knew I had to be a union member.

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OHS Matters: Hazardous Manual Handling

“I am almost 63 years old and was wondering what weight an employer can ask me to lift on a regular daily basis? I’m working in a job where the employer says that 20 kgs is the “standard weight”. But in reality we’re often told to lift and carry bags that are closer to 25 kgs, and this can be up to 50 times a day. I feel this is too heavy for someone my age. After I raised this, the site supervisor gave us a demonstration on safe lifting techniques, and put some posters up in the lunchroom.”

 

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Analysis: West Gate Bridge Tragedy - 50 Years On

At 11.50am on October 15 1970, a span of the West Gate Bridge, then under construction, collapsed. 2000 tonnes of steel fell 45 metres - 35 workers were killed, 17 were injured. Some ‘rode’ the bridge down and, miraculously, survived. All those who survived were traumatised, as were many people living in the working-class suburbs surrounding it.

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Backbone of Our Movement: Iqra Ahad

Iqra Ahad
NTEU Delegate

How long have you been a union member?

6 years.

Why did you join the union?

When I joined the union it was for support, advice and representation but I continue to be a union member to have the power to negotiate for more favourable working conditions and other benefits collectively.

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OHS Matters: Can My Boss Make Me Clean The Toilet?

This is a query which came into the VTHC’s ‘Ask Renata’ this week:

“I work as a food packer at a food packing company based in Melbourne. Our work place has never had a cleaner, and we never have clean toilets. Someone complained to our boss that the toilet was not clean. So today he called everyone to a meeting and said he wants everyone to take turns to clean the toilets. Can you advise me: Can I say NO to him?? and where do I stand on this issue???

PS. Our workplace has no Union.”

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OHS Matters: Why Consultation is Even More Important Today

One of the seemingly hardest duties for many employers to comply with is the duty to consult with elected health and safety representatives (HSRs). This is a legal duty under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 – and has been a legal duty since 1985 when workers were given the right to elect representatives, and these representatives were given rights and powers.

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