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The Forum > Article Comments > Individual contracts or personal covenants? > Comments

Individual contracts or personal covenants? : Comments

By Tony Percy, published 25/7/2005

Tony Percy argues we cannot define our working lives in terms of individual contracts.

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QUOTE: We are not individuals. Sure, the constant message of our culture is that we are isolated beings seeking self-fulfilment. But if we were individuals, we would - each of us - have been placed on our own little island. We were not. We were created from nothing and placed in the context of a family, culture, society, and so on. We need each other to survive and thrive.

RESPONSE: Society won't let me live in peace on an island. It turns up and demands that I fill in forms.

The point of promoting the individual is to say that there are a multitude of ways in which we can engage with society or not engage. And each of these in an ideal world would be voluntary and optional. If you don't like soccer you should not have to join the club. If you don't support state welfare you should not have to pay.

The contract is merely the form through which we state our willingness to participate and the terms on which we will do so. Contracts are about the "individual" deciding the extent to which they immerse themselves in society.

Society is undeniably there. However forcing everybody to bow down before it is a meance.

I am an individual who happens to not live on an island. I don't give a stuff how the socialists would rather I see myself
Posted by Terje, Monday, 25 July 2005 6:39:34 PM
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Well said tergie.

We now live in a country where everyone else want to control my life and I donít have a opt out clause.

Worse still, is that some sections of the community who are in majority now dictated to those in economic minority groups.
More often than not, the regulations have exclusion for them.

Interesting progress for what is supposed to be a free economy
Posted by dunart, Tuesday, 26 July 2005 9:00:24 AM
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The issue isn't about islands or about whether you call workplace agreements covenants or contracts. Surely every worker's rights should encompass meaningful work, for meaningful remuneration and conditions of employment, in a safe and healthy work environment. The risk with the Howard Govt proposal, in my view, is that the determination of "meaningful" will be taken completely out of the workers' hands. The proposal assumes a level of capacity, experience and knowledge that few workers and indeed few employers (in small business anyway) can be expected to have at this time. How can productivity increases be achieved by a small business with say 50 employees trying to negotiate individual contracts? Let alone the organisation I work for - with over 9,000 employees! And the State based awards will be taken out of that jurisdiction, so any disputes will take twice as long to be determined, if they get that far at all. I agree that there is scope to review current industrial relations processes - the termination of employment has turned into a quagmire of legal technicalities that don't necessarily work to the best interests of the worker or the employer. The adversarial nature of industrial relations in Australia is also something that should be looked at. But the Howard Govt's proposal is just a cynical exercise to turn Australian workers into cheap labour fodder, doesn't address the need for more skilled workers and more flexibility in the workplace, and in the long term will leave workers and employers much worse off. (And by the way, I DO live on an island..Tassie!)
Posted by tasview, Tuesday, 26 July 2005 12:52:37 PM
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Can someone tell me why the blurb about the author was edited to remove a reference to his B Comm (Hons) and replace it with a reference to his theology degree? I would have thought his business credentials are more relevant to an article such as this.
Posted by Robert Corr, Wednesday, 27 July 2005 7:22:08 PM
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Robert

There are too many spivs in suits with B Comm (Hons) playing their corporate role in exploiting the ignorant and greedy to enhance "shareholder interests", and of course their own pockets.

Thankfully there are also many playing positive, contributing roles in business.

I reckon Tony's contribution as a theologian is more apt for out time. We are emerging from the century of darkness in which we have witnessed the "the long march through the institutions" of the secular exclusivists. Yet, through this time we have seen wonderful, but unheralded, theological formation across the Christian spectrum.

We live in a troubled world which needs new eyes to view it, in the light of a more real understanding of faith and hope in a postmodern world.

A more widespread understanding of "covenant" from the Scriptures would indeed contribute to the formation of the world's ultimate fulfillment that we are called to work for in service.
Posted by MJB, Saturday, 30 July 2005 4:15:56 PM
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