The Guardian 29 June, 2005

Dingo bytes

There are adverts around the place in Sydney about health and safety at work with photos of amputees and people with other horrific injuries, workers who were hurt on the job. It’s an effective campaign if the idea is to make you queasy. Dingo reckons they miss the point, putting the blame on the worker instead of the employer. A better spin would be to have pictures of types in pinstripe suits behind bars with the message "Killing or injuring workers is a crime". So it was that last week in the Melbourne Magistrates Court stevedoring company P&O Ports pleaded guilty to a workplace safety charge over an accident that resulted in the death of father of three, Jeffrey Gray. In June 2003 he had been standing on a narrow ledge when he was struck by a container and fell eight metres into the open hold of a ship. There had been no guard rail around the hold and Mr Gray had not been supplied with a safety harness.

And while on sick adverts, insurance giant AMP has taken the opportunity to exploit the growing number of people faced with being kicked out of their job. They’ve run big adverts in the daily papers headed "Facing redundancy? Think ahead". AMP says it can show the prospective unemployed "How to make your money work harder, How to find an advisor you can trust, What questions to ask" etc. But off course, they’re not going to find you another job.

It was revealed that a pharmacy in the NSW country town of Thurgoona, near Albury, refuses to sell the contraceptive pill to women on religious grounds. The devout husband and wife chemists "accept the official teachings of the Catholic Church" and will only sell the pill to women who need it for medical reason, such as to relieve painful periods, and not for contraceptive purposes, the latter are told "Have your prescription filled elsewhere". Where is their Christian respect for a person’s privacy? Maybe there should be rules on the separation of Church and chemist. When asked about the ban, bible-bashing Health Minister Tony Abbott endorsed the pharmacists.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews. Remember when PM Howard stated that "no worker would be worse off under his government"? Of course it was a lie and it turns out Howard’s apparently been coaching Andrews in the subtle art of non-truths. Andrews claimed that workers would be protected because employers who coerced them onto the government’s non-union AWAs would be fined $33,000. But it has been revealed that staff in his own department had been given AWA forms with the "yes" box already ticked next to "I acknowledge my commitment to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement".

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