My Way or the Highway
Friday October 21st 2005, 7:54 am

 let's go serfin' now, everybody's learnin' how

Australian bloggers are not fooled by John HoWARd’s ridiculous spin that his crushing of workers’ rights and entitlements will lead to more jobs and better working conditions. In a completely foolish attempt to pander to workplace bullies, HoWARd has already given employers the nod to use the elimination of unfair dismissal laws to harass workers into quitting.

John HoWARd has often been accused of living in the 1950s. However, the Dickensian WorkChoices is straight out of the 1850s. Employers were once kings, able to abuse, intimidate, threaten and harass employees at will, with their workers’ livelihoods at the tips of their fingers. It was abuse of workers which gave rise to the current system of industrial relations in Australia, which include reasonable protections for workers. John HoWARd is giving employers flexibility- to again reign as undisputed monarchs of their patch and lords of the sharecroppers who till the soil for them.

From the first day I set foot in Australia from the USA in October 1996, the difference in the general manner of Australians from Americans was immediately obvious. Americans can never relax- there is no safety net in the American workplace. There is no reasonable amount of holiday or sick time available to American workers. By contrast, Australians get a minimum of 4 weeks per year of annual leave as well as generous sick leave conditions, national healthcare and adequate supports for those who do find themselves unemployed or unable to work. Australia is indeed a kinder and gentler place than America- and I would never swap one for the other. Australia has surfies- America has serfs.

Many Australians idealise America and wonder why I could bear to leave such a place for Australia. The workplace relations system in Australia is in no small part responsible for the general character of the Australian people and thus my affection for them and the place we live. In 2003, I became an Australian citizen, intending to live in Australia indefinitely.

I never expected America to come and hunt me down, but John HoWARd is about to loose the hounds of laissez-faire capitalism on me, you, and every other Australian. Prepare to live like a fox, snatching your livelihood where you can, before the dogs close in.


8 Comments so far
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Wayne Swan warned that pensioners could have increases cut because the pension is tied to average earnings and if that goes down, pensions go too. I haven’t seen anything else about that. Have you Weez?

Comment by JahTeh 10.21.05 @ 1:58 pm

That’s a bloody important point! It’s not like pension adds up too well as it is.

Comment by Marcus 10.21.05 @ 2:09 pm

JT, no, I haven’t heard Swan’s comment. Not surprising. With the media environment as it is at the moment, Kim Beazley could bungee jump naked and smeared with strawberry jam and still not get the notice of the editorship. Beaz won’t be anyone’s cuppa until he moves the ALP to the left instead of splitting his seams riding on the fence.

Marcus, pensioners are the least of the concern of the flaming Libs. We don’t make significant campaign contributions… I’m not getting used to my new insignificance. If HoWARd will strip the pay and conditions of working folk to the level suiting his goals for free trade with China, those of us who cannot work are completely off his radar.

All I can say is ‘go Billy, go!’ There’s got to be some floor crossing on HoWARd’s destruction of the Australian workplace. With working one hour per week counting as being ’employed,’ unemployment is dramatically higher in Australia than HoWARd is citing. With his trampling of workers’ rights, it’s set to get a whole lot worse.

Comment by weezil 10.21.05 @ 2:21 pm

But it all just keeps coming back to the media environment doesn’t it.

Those of us who fall left of the tories havn’t got buckley’s chance to effect real change so long as those sites that construct society’s truths remain propaganda engines for the Murdoch’s and Packers of this world. Even Fairfax’s management has been caught up in the glamour of it all with their daydreams of a Fairfax TV channel. Sorry Fella’s… the big boy’s won’t let it happen & meanwhile little Johnny’s taking yez for a ride.

Comment by Marcus 10.22.05 @ 10:57 am

Marcus, in wartime, one of an invading army’s primary goals is to seize or destroy radio and television transmitters. HoWARd is working on seizure of the media through deceit. Changing media cross-ownership laws simply gives his super-rich mates an opportunity to make even more money. The moguls would be fools to bite the hand that shovels gold into their coffers.

Yes, the conduct of Fairfax of late is concerning. It’s tragic, not just from the standpoint of the loss of the fine and longstanding journalistic traditions over at Fairfax, but the loss of a necessary voice in mainstream media.

It’s up to you, me, Margo and other truly independent writers to source and publish. Like it or not, we are the new free press.

Comment by weezil 10.22.05 @ 11:13 am

I’ve just finished listening to the latest “Background Briefing” on the ABC Radio. Its about the Williamtown aircraft engineers’ strike. It does a good job of exposing the current and anticipated situation. It also exposes the federal government’s “take no prisoners” approach. I recomend that all who are interested listen (avaliable in RA and MP3).

Comment by Peter F Bradshaw 10.23.05 @ 12:32 pm

Peter, thanks for that. I’ll go have a listen as I missed the show on air this week.

Comment by weezil 10.23.05 @ 12:43 pm

[…] Can we fight back? Sure, but definitely not one AWA at a time. If you can join a union, the time to join was yesterday. This is not the USA nor is it China. This is Australia, where we value our families and fair protections for working people. Just say NO to serfdom! […]

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