Write on: Letters to the editor

September 7, 2005


Krispy Kreme doughnut workers were bullied into signing individual contracts that left them thousands of dollars a year out of pocket, two former employees have said in submissions to a Senate inquiry. One former staff member, Thea Birch Fitch, 22, wrote that she felt she was "left with no choice" but to sign the agreement.

Her submission to the inquiry into Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) said that under the contract she signed workers could be expected to work 10 consecutive days without overtime pay, work more than 12 hours without overtime and work split shifts without overtime.

So much for "choice" and Howard's comforting noises. Keep your hands off workers' rights and conditions!

Dan O'Brien
via email

Asylum seekers

Congratulations on the major article on refugees and asylum seekers (GLW #639) which gave details of the 32 people the Howard regime, with Labor complicity, still have trapped on Nauru. These Tampa affair prisoners have been there since October 2001. Sarah Stephen's excellent article gave their nationalities, but I think we need their names — that is, if we can overcome DIMIA's touching concern for the "privacy" of the people it is driving mad.

Sometimes I think that the reason that the people Howard and company have "detained" on Nauru are not reported at all in the mainstream media is "structural". Whenever I think along these lines, I remember the 100 or so US embassy hostages in Iran released on January 21, 1981, after 444 days in captivity. For none of hose 444 days did the mainstream media let anyone in the West forget that US citizens were being held hostage in Iran.

The difference is between "worthy" and "unworthy" victims. Even if the US embassy in Tehran was a nest of CIA spies, upholding the Shah's rule, the hostages can be called victims. The reason that detained asylum seekers are not reported on is because of a disgusting, knowing negligence in the Murdoch-Fairfax-Packer media.

Asking the media moguls to be nice won't help. What will help is building up Green Left Weekly, until the Australian, the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald are commonly referred to as the "alternative media".

Stephen Langford
Paddington, NSW [Abridged]

Capitalism is unhealthy

Jim Tran (Write On, GLW #639) argues that lithium improves the life for many schizophrenic sufferers and that counselling is no substitute for the drug. Former psychiatrist and current renowned US anti-psychiatrist Peter Breggin is a useful source of information on the bankruptcy of the pill-pushing approach of the psychiatric industry. His books include Toxic Psychiatry (1991), Talking back to Prozac: What doctors aren't telling you about today's most controversial drug (1994), Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Role of the FDA (1997 and the Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs (with David Cohen, Ph.D., 1999).

Most psychiatrists see manic-depression as an inherited illness and argue patients should stay on lithium forever. However, the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry says: "Patients are often told it corrects a biochemical imbalance, and, for many, this explanation suffices. There is no evidence that bipolar mood disorder is a lithium deficiency."

The April 1989 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry report patients on lithium complain of mental impairment, poor concentration, mental confusion, mental slowness, memory problems.

Capitalism is an unhappy place. It is stressful and depressing. Its solution to the mental collapse of millions is to fill them with untested, dangerous, expensive drugs and justify the Big Pharma's drug-pushing with pseudo-science.

Rachel Evans
Dulwich Hill, NSW [Abridged]

'Aussie values'

Howard orders Muslims alone to adopt our Aussie values. What are these values? Are they ones with price tags attached? I admire Aussies like Mary McKillop, Fred Hollows and Tom Uren — those dedicated to the service to others.

Unlike Howard, I value Australia's strong sense of teamwork, mateship and worker solidarity and am thus proud to be a union man. My grandpa helped establish the PSA in WA. Labo(u)r parties in Australia have a proud tradition. Indeed, Queensland had the world's first Labor government.

Alas, past Australia's values led to the slaughter of Aboriginals, kidnapping of Pacific Islanders and anti-Chinese riots. Does anyone want these copied?

Respect is the value I treasure most. Respecting myself (no stupid risks with fast cars or drugs), my neighbour (seek to understand how they see things) and environment (we are nature's stewards, not owners).

Showing respect/honour to each other is as fundamental to Islam as it is to Christianity, and indeed to every other faith. It is also fundamental to socialism.

Let's each respect people's right to eat their own food and follow the teachings of their faiths. Their right also includes the freedom, if they desire, to adopt aspects of the dominant Anglo-Australian traditions.

Luke Weyland
Strathfield, NSW

From Green Left Weekly, September 7, 2005.
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