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The Forum > Article Comments > WorkChoices - whose side are you on? > Comments

WorkChoices - whose side are you on? : Comments

By Nicholas Gruen, published 21/10/2005

Nicholas Gruen discusses the industrial relations reforms and the impact on low paid and unemployed people.

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I remember as a child radio advertisements for laundry powder that shouted, "Brand X washes whiter". To which our large daft family always replied in unison, "whiter than what? Soot?".
Every time any government regales us with comparative adjectives unattached to objects for comparison they should receive an indignant phone call from each and every listener asking things like -
Fairer than what ? Please expand in intelligible English! Fairer how, for whom, in what way, with what exceptions, and what do you actually mean by "fair" ?
When the poor call centre jockeys inevitably stumble over the questions we should then repeatedly attempt to contact the cabinet ministers directly until we get a satisfactory answer. No ?
Posted by Henery, Friday, 21 October 2005 2:22:52 PM
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Nicholas: Only a mean spirited, uncaring mob like the liberals could think up such a policy.
It will be forced through Parliament in spite of yet another deceitful promise from 'honest?' john that he would not use his majority in an arrogant way.
Of course all the unthinkingly, cravenly obedient government members will vote for it. These grovellers could not and never have had an original thought in their lives.Parliament is just a job to most of them - so they do not want to rock the boat - so to speak. Whatever honest john commands is their will.
Now why is this being done is it
1. Purely a political ploy to destroy the backing of all other parties especially labour?
2.Is it just a liberal thing, that is it is in their political genes?
3.Perhaps little john wants a permanent low paid underclass that can be dominated totally. Just like in the country where john's great mate lives - yes America. Perhaps this has been ordered by bush, we know how obedient john is to the President - don't we?
4. Maybe by looking after the big end of town will boost liberal party funds and help members when they retire with a well paid job?
Who knows why this 'man?' of steal does what he does. numbat
Posted by numbat, Friday, 21 October 2005 3:47:31 PM
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All very fine, Nicholas, but no-one’s actually convinced me that these IR changes are necessary.

Already, low-paid jobs are casual, workers in industries with short-term projects (like the construction industry) are only engaged as contractors, and a company of any size can get rid of an unwanted employee by re-defining the position and declaring the incumbent redundant.

Employers are very skilled at finding profitable ways of working within the current IR arrangements, and with one industry group after another saying that they have been surprised by the extent of these changes, you have to ask, what needs to be fixed here?

You can rationalise the changes all you like – this is plainly and simply an attack on collective bargaining.
Posted by jpw2040, Saturday, 22 October 2005 8:34:28 AM
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We are asked to live in fairy land in relation to the proposed IR legislation. The Prime Minister says something like “trust me, my record is my word”. In the short term it might be a statement that satisfies some people: however, in the longer term Mr. Howard will not necessarily be Prime Minister. It could be Mr. Costello or another current Liberal Federal politician; Labor might even get its act together and form government after the next election.

Further factors which can have an impact on the economy are International factors such as increased fuel costs, further environmental disasters, and the saber rattling of USA towards Iran, North Korea and China. Cyclic down turns are a feature of the economic environment.

With a decline in the economy there will no doubt be a decline in what employees can
“negotiate” in their AWAs. After all, Mr. Howard is selling IR legislation on the basis of a very buoyant market.

A decline in the economy means that those unemployed are caught between employers offering outrageously low wages/salaries and Centrelink saying they must accept what the employer offers on the basis they lose their Centrelink entitlements otherwise.

I do not believe in the tooth fairy, nor do I believe in IR legislation. IR legislation is good for the big end of town and share holders, but not for workers.
Posted by ant, Sunday, 23 October 2005 10:36:26 AM
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"Many low paid workers are young and will be promoted into better jobs. Others have partners who are doing fine. Some are “doctor's wives” picking up some spare cash when it doesn’t conflict with tennis parties."

Many more low paid workers who are not "doctors' wives" are stuck in dead-end jobs with little or no prospect of bettering their circumstances.
I work in the agricultural industry as a labourer, as do most of my friends and acquaintances, and can see nothing in these proposals that will improve my position. Our employers are all members of the industry organisation while we have no way to bargain collectively. This means that workers who have gained improved wages and conditions are unwilling to risk their status by rocking the boat and that those who are at the bottom of the heap will face steadily declining conditions as those things "protected by law" are eroded.
The notion that workers will have real access to the legal protection guaranteed by Honest John, on the strength of his reputation as a rodent, is frankly laughable. I work in this environment and know my peers.
The quote heading this post indicates a disturbing lack of understanding about the real impact of these proposals on real people. Even more disturbing is the implicit notion that people are in poor circumstances through their own choice and the complacent belief that the middle class peers of Gruen and his ilk actually represent the reality of Australian society.
Posted by Col Gradolf, Sunday, 23 October 2005 1:22:30 PM
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I think part of the problem is we do not as a society, treasure all workers.Col Gradolf talks about the notion of dead end jobs.All jobs are important and what we should not do,is define people by the job as they do in the US.These attitudes of pigeon holing all according to their job creates devisive social structures that are individually,socially and economically destructive.The strongest need [outside survival]within society is to feel acceptence,love and self worth.Money probably comes a close second.

While I agree that unfair dismissal must go,I don't think this Liberal Govt is producing fair and equitible IR reforms.It should be easier to rid ourselves of workers yet I fail to see the necessity of individual contracts that may young people can't or won't challenge or comprehend them.To continue in this present vein the Coalition wil see the rise of militant unions once again.Having a pool of working poor will only see crime and social unrest increase and we will all pay the price in other ways.

The imperative pushing this agenda is our growing Balance of Payments blow out.Not only is Australia losing jobs in the low skill labour areas,we are seeing highly technical and IT jobs being out sourced to India and China.

The pressure is really mounting and the agenda is to make us all work harder and cheaper; however with the growth of bigger business and world pressure on energy and resources ,will our standards of living improve or just decline to meet our competitors?

We cannot be isolationists and just put up tarrifs; however there needs to be balance in the equation when subsidised products are just dumped in our domestic markets destroying local jobs.

Too many people on this planet cheapens human endeavour and increases the prices of energy and resources.It will ultimately lower our living standards to that of developing nations.

It is time for our Govts to be honest and have a cold hard analysis of the facts and debate what the solutions and alternatives are.

What ever happened to the notion of the "Smart Country"?
Posted by Arjay, Sunday, 23 October 2005 4:12:32 PM
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