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Transmitted diseases

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Australia’s Electrical Trades Union was accused of using illegal tactics after more than 200 out of 250 linesmen working for TXU, the Victoria power company, called in sick. The union is seeking a 10.7% pay rise over four years, a 36-hour week and higher apprentice ratios.

The mass absenteeism by line-workers follows an order by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission banning strike action against the state’s power companies until mid-July.

ETU organiser Dean Mighell said no industrial action had occurred but he understood there had been a large outbreak of “lineitis”. “It’s a condition suffered by line-workers when they’re overworked and there are no apprentices,” he said.

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