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.