Goodbye, Australia, nice knowing you
Saturday December 03rd 2005, 10:21 am


image: Bill Leak for The Australian 

There are almost no protections of workers’ rights in the American industrial relations environment. It’s called ‘employment at will.’ In such an arrangement, it is a supposedly equal exchange that employees are free to work or quit and employers are free to hire or fire, at any time, without any just cause or period of notice. Your notice of termination isn’t measured in weeks- it’s measured in minutes. You’ll be called to the boss’s star chamber on a Friday arvo and be told that today is your last day on the job, with no requirement to justify sacking you at all- just like in the USA. See ya.

Thanks to John Howard, Australia now has the very same arrangement. You can be sacked for just about any reason. The balance of workplace relations has not just been tipped, but dumped in favour of employers.

The day is coming when all Australian workers on strong union awards will be forced to individually negotiate their pay rates and working conditions. No individual worker, particularly not a low-wage earner, will stand a chance of negotiating fairly against an entire company. Workers who demand fair pay and reasonable conditions will simply be thrown to the dole queue.

Why is Howard attacking the Australian way of life? Easy. Howard wants a free trade agreement with China. "Free trade" means tarriffs and protection of local industries and wages will be dropped so that employees in Sydney and Shanghai will earn the same rates of pay, on the theory that Australian manufacturers will be able to sell their products on the world markets at comparable prices to those manufactured in China. The destruction of workers’ rights and entitlements is a critical part of Howard’s master plan to make his fatcat mates just that much richer. The average factory worker in China earns ($AU) 85 cents per hour.  Rotsa ruck buying a average priced ($AU500,000) house in Sydney on 85 cents per hour, maaaaate. Welcome to the new underclass of the working poor.

Could it possibly be worse? Yes, believe it or not- you could live in India. Australian jobs are already being exported to Mumbai. tools down!

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!

The only avenue we have left to let Howard know that we will not comply with the decimation of workers’ rights is to not only go on strike, but for the general public to support industrial action. Mind you, Howard’s IR deforms have put extraordinary restrictions on industrial action, levying heavy fines or even jail sentences against protesters. You might not be able to buy a fresh head of lettuce every once in a while or your neighbour may go to jail for fighting for a fair workplace in Australia. You’d do well to learn how to grow your own lettuce and how to bake files into a yummy cake.

Oops… is that seditious?

By the way, I like a nice, moist chocolate cake baked around my rat-tail file.

See you on the picket line.


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