Workplace Depredations: Germ Warfare!

Created: Saturday, 28 April 2007 Written by Max Gross
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Anzac Day. A Public Holiday throughout the nation. Australia’s secular holy of holies, that solemn, sacrosanct day of the year when we all pause to reflect upon those brave Aussie lads (and New Zealanders!) who pointlessly went down in flames, fleas and gastro on a distant foreign shore in 1915. Lest we forget… Except those of us who miss out because of the Federal Government’s repressive new Workplace Laws. Xenox News' raving reporter Max Gross pops a tinny and rises to the occasion.

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One of the first things Monstralia’s sinister Prime Minister Germ W. Howard did after winning control of both houses of Parliament in the last election was bulldoze into law WorkChoices, his strategy for destroying unionism and worker’s rights by radically watering down the award safety net, abolishing unfair dismissal claims for companies with less than 100 workers, and allowing employers to cut penalty rates and overtime in new Australian Workplace (so-called) “Agreements”.

When the High Court ruled that the corporations power allowed him to effectively take over industrial relations, and the unions, Labor and the states were forced to accept it, and the Rat King's glee was grotesque to watch. He reckoned it was Mission Accomplished.

Almost 300,000 AWAs have been signed under discriminatory provisions that scrap penalty rates, overtime, shift allowances and public holiday loadings. Everything goes!

Secret figures reveal that 45 per cent of AWAs have stripped away ALL of the award conditions that the Federal Government promised would be "protected by law" under Work Choices.

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And while the federal government continues to hide the truth, refusing to compare the position of workers o­n individual contracts against those under awards, helpless workers are falling by the wayside like marines o­n a Baghdad street .

Workplace Destructions Minister Joe Hickey reckons comparing Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) with collective agreements was not comparing "apples with apples". Is he a fruiterer or a government minister? He’s neither, he’s an errand boy sent by a grocery clerk… and an arsehole to boot. And boot it we shall!

A survey by Griffith University's David Peetz found hourly pay rates for non-managers o­n AWAs had fallen by 3.3 per cent. But the good Professor found the high pay of AWA workers in Western Australia's mining industry distorted this figure: in Victoria, employees o­n AWAs were paid 12 per cent LESS than those o­n collective agreements. How do your like them apples, Joe!

Alrighty then, so the Peetz study found that job numbers were UP by 2.6 per cent in the first 11 months of WorkChoices, which the Feds claimed was due to employers being more willing to risk hiring workers because they were EASIER TO SACK. Gee, how encouraging for us casual saps struggling to survive between o­ne shit-a-brick contract and Centrelink’s anal-retentive brownshirts.

Significantly, the Prof also found jobs growth was LOWER than the 3.9 per cent growth after Labor INTRODUCED unfair dismissal laws in 1994. So, as if we need reminding, the Rodent’s WorkChoices farrago is not there to create jobs but to strengthen the arm of long-suffering employers who just can’t get rich quick enough these days.

Apples? Oranges? Lemons!

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Asked if the employment advocate was working o­n a new method to accurately assess the outcome and benefits of Australian Workplace Agreements compared with collective agreements, Joe “Friendly” Hickey shrugged and quipped: "… I don't know, I doubt it".

Because the Feds already know the outcome, they know precisely what the new legislation is designed to do: drive down workers wages and conditions and entrench a more compliant workforce for the benefit of the corporate bosses that run the Liberal Party, if not the whole friggin’ world!

Here’s just o­ne of the most recent disgraceful examples of the PM’s work “choices” legislation in action:

This week 12 “apples”, who have worked for between 17 and 26 years at a port terminal company in Sydney, were sacked for “operational reasons”. They say they will be replaced by casual staff. After fruitlessly (pun intended) negotiating for a collective agreement with the company for more than a year the men were sacked because they refused to sign individual agreements. They had 15 minutes to empty their lockers before being marched offsite. New staff will be sought through a labour hire company, but the redundant “apples” may apply for positions through that firm, according to the company boss who, for all we know in the Joe Hickey scheme of things, is an artichoke.

So, back to untouchable Anthrax Day, that sacred cow, that annual Australian alcoholic daze when pollies, parrots and piss-heads glorify war and o­ne of history’s greatest military debacles, and mean and tricky PMs make a pedestal for themselves out of the bones of dead Diggers.

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Even Senator Steve Feely, of the Holy Roller political party Family Fist Christians Galore, has accused the PM Germ Howard of breaking his promise to keep Anzac Day sacrosanct.

Senator Feely reckons the PM "conned" Australians, and o­ne can o­nly boggle o­nes mind wondering where the hell Mr Feely has been for the past decade of the Howard Regime. But Feely cited a July 2005 radio interview by 3AW morning host Neil Muscle when the Lying Rodent said there would be no change to public holiday protections.

"We all took the PM at his word there would still be guarantees … but three months later, Australians were conned," Feely sniffed, dabbing the tears from his nostrils. "The Prime Minister has broken his promise. It's not a loophole, it's a pothole."

 

Hmm, let’s see: the PM has broken another promise. Well, Xenox News could write a fucking trilogy o­n that subject alone!

But no, cobber, it’s actually not a loophole or a pothole, it’s a shit hole and you’re standing in it. Staff CAN be forced to work o­n Anzac Day just as o­n any other day or night of the year, without penalty rates or other compensation.

Sacrosanct? While the PM poses, the smell gets up honest folks’ noses! And the stench ain’t Gallipoli’s corpses rising like outraged zombies from the Turkish soil to march o­n Kirribilli. More’s the pity.

Look, the main impact of WorkChoices is to redistribute income from wages to profits and from wage earners without economic muscle to profit-hungry employers.
shit o­n the australian flag outrage
Under WorkChoices, workers can be intimidated into giving up penalty rates without the compensation they were obliged to get under the old laws, and workers ARE being forced into “bargaining” away those hard-won rights, giving employers a free rein to cut their wages bills.

The PM has set “workplace relations” back 50 years and is aiming for the good old Victorian era when a cowed, cash-strapped workforce, without any effective rights to negotiate with their employer over their wages and conditions or redress against unfair dismissal, can simply be sacked and replaced with cheaper labour for purely venal, vindictive or frivolous reasons.

To the extent that costs are an operational reason, employers can simply drive down wages and conditions - not by individual contracts but by simply sacking you and advertising your job at a lesser cost.
And the news for the sisterhood is even worse.

The pay gap between men and women is widening, with evidence that women have lost out badly from deregulation of the labour market, including the WorkChoices changes, according to Curtin Business School’s Women in Social and Economic Research group.

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"The gender pay gap in the private-sector full-time labour market is widening, as is the gap between those o­n awards and those in the bargaining stream," the report says.

"The potential exists for gender inequities to grow."

Inequity and iniquity: precisely what the Howard Regime is all about.

Earlier I mentioned suppressed figures that show almost half of all Australian Workplace Agreements have eroded workers rights and dumped each and every award condition that Howard’s ratbag government promised would be "protected by law". That, ladies and gents, was clearly yet another “non-core’ promise.

The Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) has backed away from these reports but the statistics, which the Government had refused to release, also show a third of the individual employment contracts lodged during the first six months of Work Choices provided NO WAGE RISES DURING THE LIFE OF THE AGREEMENTS.

They show that 27.8 per cent of the agreements “may have” broken the law by undercutting o­ne of the legislated minimum employment entitlements.

Conditions were stripped from the vast majority of the agreements examined, and these included shift loadings (removed in 76 per cent of the agreements), annual leave loading (59 per cent), incentive payments and bonuses (70 per cent), and declared public holidays (22.5 per cent).

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The gutless Feds are still trying to cover up the fact that WorkChoices is stripping away basic entitlements and leaving Australians with little or no protection in the workplace for their working conditions.

Family standards are worth about as much to Germ W Howard PM as… his precious, sacred Anzac Day.

Federal employment advocate Peter McIlwank has used the Rodent’s first line of defence when caught out and claimed not to have seen the documents and so cannot verify their accuracy.

McIlwank says that he does not resile from his decision, made last June, to “discontinue analysis of data o­n protected award conditions because it failed to take into account other benefits in the agreements such as improved flexibility”. So, like Joe Hickey, he believes there’s need to monitor results at all. These dickheads already KNOW what’s going o­n and they don’t fucking care because it’s Liberal Party policy to screw the weak, the poor, the defenceless, the marginalised, the unemployed, underemployed and the employed.

So, whether you’re working Anzac Day, Good Friday or even the PM’s birthday, it’s just another day to the corporate bosses running Germ W. Howard’s Cirkus Oz.

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But it’s not all cucumber sandwiches and Earl Grey in Kirribilli! The PM is clearly worried and has developed yet another secret plan, this o­ne to soften his oppressive industrial relations laws IF public support for the Government continues to crumble.

And, brothers and sisters, boys and girls, apples, pears and artichokes, that support is crumbling like an arctic glacier.

The plan, titled "Break Glass In Case of Emergency" (I kid you not!), was developed under the direction of former Workplace Destructions Minister Kevin “Creepy Jesus” Android, and is virtually identical to that proposed by Family Fist Senator Feely.

Key features of the plan include changing the classification (a tactic so beloved of the Howard Regime) of a small business from o­ne with 100 employees to o­ne employing between 25 and 50, guaranteeing (what, another promise!) public holidays and penalty rates for weekend work, strengthening maternity leave provisions for working mums, and strengthening workers' redundancy entitlements.
Well, I reckon there’s o­ne redundancy I can just about guarantee, and that’s the redundant Rodent!Blood brothers-in-arms

As a spider-like political pariah patiently waiting to be resurrected like Lazarus with a triple by-pass, Germ W. Howard o­nce said that the times would suit him, and o­n becoming PM it became obvious that what suits the Prime Minister's immediate political requirements is all that really matters in down-sized, compromised, anaesthetized Monstralia.

So with about six in 10 people opposed to his Workplace laws (according to an exclusive Age/ACNielsen poll conducted last month), the little desiccated coconut will no doubt again be digging deep into his bag of mean trickery to slip through the next poll relatively unscathed.

And well he might, despite the imminent threat posed by the gormless, soft-liberal-new-labor Opposition Leader Kevin Fudd… as long as none of our precious diggers die in Iraq!

 

This week’s attacks o­n Aussies - the most serious since the US invasion, with a roadside IED destroying the first of a convoy of three light-armoured (i.e. cardboard) vehicles, and another patrol attacked three times, first with mortars and then chased back to base under fire – must be making the Lying Rodent a wee bit anxious.

Flag-covered body bags are a bad look for a flaky, flag-waving “man-of-steel” beholden to the whims of a corrupt, zoned-out, crony capitalist plutocrat going ape in the Oval Orifice.

Yes, it’s that boiling cauldron of blood, guts and oil, the Iraq catastrofuck (Iraq Body Count, a group that relies o­n published reports, estimates the civilian death toll for the war between about 62,400 and 68,430)… not to mention global warming – or as the Feds prefer to call it “climate change’ (sounds so much less scary!). Karma!

And although Johnny Virus may think the Hicks scandal is a buried issue, the gag placed o­n the dim-witted Boy Adventurer won’t last forever… and chances are it’s not enforceable anyway. We ARE still a democracy, like it or not Johnny. And you don’t, do you, old son, you positively loathe it!

Coconuts crack under the right amount of pressure.

This was Max Gross for Xenox News, counting the slain, praying for rain and feeling no pain. Another vodka spritzer please Janet and this time make it a double!

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