A Day of Protest: and the end of an era

I don’t normally post about political/social issues in this blog, but its about to change. I am not often moved sufficiently, these days, but our government’s recent activity has caused my anger to surface once more.

Yesterday, right across Australia, between 8.30am and 10.30 am, there were stop-work meetings and protests about the Australian Federal Government’s new legislation which is going to see workers rights completely decimated.

These rights, which have been worked hard for by various Unions and their memberships over the years are about to be demolished. There has been almost no debate in parliament, and there has been no invitation from the Government to anyone except employer groups to comment publicly about the new laws. The government has spent millions and millions of dollars on propaganda (taxpayer dollars of course) to persuade us that its best for us to take pay cuts and fewer holidays blah blah blah (oh no, they dont *say* that in the adverts, but if you read between the lines, its pretty obvious)

The government tells us things will be better. The reality is that our current rights to paid sick leave, annual leave and so on are going to be eroded. Employers will have the right to offer employees anything they like, good or bad, and the employees will have no choice but to take whats offered or be jobless. The government promises that people on current awards will not be affected, but we know how they lie and lie and lie about any issue thats so touchy, and so we also know that once this legislation is passed, the rest will follow.

We have had it pretty good over here. We get decent amounts of annual leave, public holidays and a 38 hour working week. Thats changing. We get decent (not fabulous, but decent) wages. Thats going to change. Under the new legislation, employers will be able to force people to work on public holidays like Christmas Day, they will be able to make people work over weekends, and they will be able to do all this without paying overtime or penalty rates, because the new legislation will allow it. “Enterprise bargaining” is the new watchphrase for this government. Which is fine if you have something to bargain with… I was initially not fazed, and can see some advantages for some people. I, for example, am quite marketable in my field of employment, I probably won’t be affected by the changes… but what about the poor kids just starting out, what about those who havent been about for long in the workforce and what about those in unskilled laboring jobs… they are so much at risk now, its frightening.

Yesterday’s meetings and protest brought people out in the hundreds of thousands, all over the country. John Howard doesnt give a shit. He was in our city a couple of days ago, there have been some Boeing workers on strike (and I confess that I cannot recall why), he spent 15 minutes with them, but hours and hours at the private home of one of the biggest developers in the Newcastle – Lake Macquarie region. That should give some idea of where his priorities lie.

This legislation should not be allowed to go ahead. But it will, because we all know that with the Government in control of both Houses of Parliament, there is no effective way to stop it.

I do hope those people who voted for the Liberal Party for both houses at the last election are giving pause to think about the consequences of their decisions…

Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.


7 thoughts on “A Day of Protest: and the end of an era

  1. Michael 19/11/2005 / 4:06 am

    I normally vote National Party, but I agree with you on this.

    Industrial relations should be bipartisan, with government and the law acting as peacekeepers between business and labor.

    I’m convinced the current “reforms” are more to do with Liberal ideology than anything practical.

    The right to collective bargaining should always be protected.

  2. kyte 22/11/2005 / 2:38 pm

    I’m a swinging voter… I tend to vote for the party which seems to me to have the sanest health and education policies. Aside from anything else, that lets the lib/nat coalition out, for me, because regardless of anything else they might do, if they/we don’t have a healthy, well-educated population, they/we have nothing. This latest debacle just confirms what I always thought… we should have limited available terms of office, as they do in the USA. Howard is well over his time, and has become more and more arrogant with it.

  3. Lance 24/11/2005 / 8:29 pm

    While i understand the concerns being raised, I dissagree with the anticipated outcome you propose. The premise that business owners will screw their employees is unfounded. I have worked for a lot of companies, and all save one recognised that happy staff are better for productivity. My prediction will be that in two years when the next election is called, this will be a mute issue. The opposition won’t campaign against it, and the public won’t care about it.

    Let’s also not forget that under the current arrangements, people can be made to work on Christmas day with no penalty rate as well as trade in all their hollidays (under the new system it will be illegal to not leave staff with two weeks).

    As for the advertising, I agree with you…. but also understand why they did it. From a marketing point of view, with all the false information being put out by the unions (oddly enough no-one compains about the unnions spending all the money on advertising), if left in peoples minds for long enough it becomes fact. It’s then a lot harder to convince them otherwise. I do think a much more effective way would have been to engage in debates. Much cheaper, while still providing an opportunity to correct any misinformation. But from a political point, they would have had little to gain, but a lot to loose. Hense I understand why they didn’t go that route either.


    P.S. Look on the bright side, if your predictions come true, we’ll be able to afford maids within three years!

  4. kyte 25/11/2005 / 1:19 am

    I did not say that business owners *would* screw their employees over… I said they would have the RIGHT to do so, which will open the doors for many of those who are unscrupulous. I DO say that whether it happens will depend largely upon the employer.

    Did you know that a day or two before the stopwork meetings a memo was sent to a number of federal government departments *forbidding* their employees to attend. And of the few who chose to go anyway, some have been suspended awaiting some decision regarding the future of their employment. This *is* where its heading, Lance, like it or not.

    I am all for Industrial reform: I would love to see off a number of skivers in my particular place of work… but to sacrifice the rest to get the few… nah, this lot isnt worth it.

    BTW nobody is going to complain about Unions spending the money… its what we pay them to do in times like this. We will always object to the government spending money on things like this, when we see health and education having less and less spent on it than ever.

    Maids: You mean: we will be able to pay an absolute pittance to some poor soul who just wants to feed her family and we can take advantage of the new legislation to be able to afford it? Not nice, Lance. Not nice at all.

  5. Michael 27/11/2005 / 6:52 am

    The government advertising was an absolute waste of public money that could have been spent on transport, health or education.

    The unions spent their members’ funds. As a lobby group they were entitled to do that.

    The wasteful government splurge didn’t even work if you consider the latest opinion polls. Shame!

  6. Michael 27/11/2005 / 6:58 am

    I meant to add that your comment about health and education really relates to state issues. And as for Howard passing his use-by date, you and Peter Costello have something in common!

    The Queensland Nationals are on the right track in aiming to protect penalty rates for public holidays. It’s like I said; these so-called reforms are ideologically motivated within the Liberal Party.

  7. kyte 27/11/2005 / 2:42 pm

    The health and education comment I guess was a general one. I am only too aware that its our state *Labor* party which has screwed us over regarding health. NSW has the largest population, and is apparently the richest state for all that, and yet it has the worst funded health system in Australia. Can I move interstate please?

    Its a shame the Nationals are so tied to the L:iberals. If they were not, I would take them much more seriously.

    Re: having something in common with Costello… That would be the *only* thing đŸ™‚

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