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Issue #1716      January 27, 2016


A new year has started but old problems are still here. Exploitation of workers and attempts to rob them of their entitlements is as old as the capitalist system itself. The ABC and Fairfax Media recently revealed systemic wage abuse at 7-Eleven stores in Australia. And it’s not just one rotten apple – the whole chain of 620 stores was allegedly involved in underpaying their workers. Workers in the stores were often paid half the rate on the books. They were denied penalty rates, through 7-Eleven’s payroll system which was provided by the head office. It happened last year and the chain’s co-owner and its chief executive resigned with the company claiming it had not known workers were being underpaid. In only one case a 7-Eleven operator faces court action after allegedly not paying correct wages to 21 staff amounting to $31,000 in one year. That included failing to pay penalty rates on Christmas Day, Good Friday or Anzac Day. The new year will see a struggle to preserve penalty rates for all workers and it’s worth supporting and fighting for.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for “Big Ideas” to be discussed in 2016. Anne Wilson, CEO and managing director of Kidney Health Australia was quick to point out that “early detection and prevention of Kidney Disease needs to become one of the national ‘Big Ideas’ of 2016. One Australian is dying with kidney related disease every 25 minutes, and one in three Australian adults is at risk of developing chronic kidney disease”. Ms Wilson pointed out that the key factor that needs recognition in the national health budget and policy framework is that if kidney disease is caught early, it can either be halted or progression to end stage kidney disease can be slowed in up to 50 percent of the cases – extending the life of your kidneys. It is believed that there are 1.3 million people who have undiagnosed chronic kidney disease. Kidney Health Australia is urging awareness of the fact that you can lose up to 90 percent of kidney function without knowing it, because there are “no warning signs” which is why kidney disease is known as the Silent Killer, Ms Wilson said. So early diagnosis is crucial in the treatment of the disease. Cuts to pathology rebates will prevent many people from getting that early diagnosis and increase the risks of heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. Big Ideas need proper funding, not cuts,

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