The Industrial Relations "reforms" are an attack on our democratic institutions as much as abolishing cross-media ownership laws, building concentration camps and unaccountably invading other countries.
I'm not the expert here and I'm keenly reading media and other's posts trying to get my head around what's going on here. But things like award wages and conditions, unfair dismissal laws and the right to be represented are features of our society that have come about politically - from the mediation of our legislators who were elected by us - to protect ordinary people from the power of very powerful employers who are not elected by us.
Want to know what a labour force (citizenry in more polite language) looks like without these sort of legislative protections? Look at poverty in the United States, look at slavery in South East Asia. Look wherever you want. Just don't ever take Australia's hard-earned industrial protections for granted.
And make no mistake that the big companies involved - the ones funding the Liberal party and lobbying the government - are making plenty of dough in Australia. The guarantee of a reasonable, life-sustaining cut for the workforce is hardly a socialist ideal. It's merely the ideal of a desperate beggar, but it's hardly time to knock it.
The short story is the piddling cuts Howard gave to the 'battlers' are being taken away, and the ground set for them to be paid less and less - which will be reported to us as, "productivity gains".
In terms of democracy, we aren't even debating the core issue which is freedom of association. In the workplace this is becoming illegal in some cases, and discouraged in all cases. The neolibs are manufacturing alienation in workplaces which have traditionally been organised. They're doing the same on campuses. The social battle, as I've said in other contexts, is against alienation.
Needless to say the companies and the government are extremely well organised and have enormous collective negotiating power, along with an ugly ideology. This is not the time to bash unions.
Pegasus, I don't agree with you that the IR issue will blow over quickly.
Why? Because this legislation must be met head on by the unions, all workers, and every decent and fair-minded Australian.
The union movement in Australia lost support (that trend has started to reverse) not because of it's own actions but because of a decades-long campaign against unions by the media which has slowly but surely shaped the perception of many Australians when it comes to unions.
You may play devil's advocate if you wish, but to my mind the devil in this case is the Howard government.
There are a few of those who use this site who seem to have the opinion that if John Howard was removed the liberal party/government would be fine.
I don't agree with that line of thinking either. You can't kill this monster by lopping off just one of it's heads. The whole creature has to be attacked and rendered harmless.
And how is the union movement going to fight this battle any other way than by industrial action?
Every decent Australian should be prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Labour movement on this issue. Whatever the cost. However long the battle.
And just so there no misunderstandings. I have no connections to any unions, official or otherwise.
Judge away Len...
I'm interested in reasoned & constructive debate, not point scoring just for the sake of it.
Hey Len, I read today or yesterday that the Gold Coast Council is also now being looked at by the relevant QLD Minister (Desley Boyle I think) for the same reasons.
Heaven forbid that developers should stack councils with pro development members. What's wrong with the good old brown paper bag? Getting too smart maybe and tripping themselves up?
Keep us up on the Tweed issue please.
Hey Jack, that's really pleasing to hear and very encouraging. More letters on the way.
Danna Vale? I'm shocked and surprised but hopeful.
Firstly on the Bali trial. I actually think Howard did achieve something. To me he only made an effort because of the media blaze but I recall hearing a report some time back after Howard had written to the Indonesian President which stated that the judges had subsequently been advised by government to make any decision they wanted.
Provided that decision did not include either a death sentence or life sentence. Given the judges record on NO innocent results a twenty year term is better than it may have been.
Don't interpret my comment there as supporting JH, it's just a report which appears to have been accurate in predicting the result and that was supposedly based on a direction from the government.
She still has life and support and hope which is a lot more than the other 130 Australians in similar positions have. But they don't have millionaire backers do they? Where is Howie's support for them? And Hicks?
Re JH's IR reform, good idea about FF. Sound them out before their vote is asked for. They would be ideal to have posting at the Dome. Another letter coming from me on that. By the way, excellent to see your post Maggie, and great work too. More please!
I don't expect the IR change will really be a big issue for very long and there's a number of reasons why I say that. Firstly Johnny doesn't need to convince anyone, he will have the numbers and can ram it through. I can't see any of the Lib/Nats making a stand on that issue.We can hope but they are in the Lib Party for many reasons but this issue is one they all support I'm afraid.
The unions have already made sounds about general strikes etc but I also hear calmer union voices saying don't react in that manner. As someone above, Gus I think and maybe Myriad (forgive me if I quote incorrectly), have said, that's what Johnny wants, for the unions to panic and open themselves up to confrontation with the public.
I think it's a matter of picking the battleground rather than letting JH do so. Play by our rules rather than his.
The unions are not strong enough to do that anymore as they withered away their support themselves by misusing members support for blatantly political campaigns decades ago. The need for unions was clear and we would still have our children down coal mines without them but they seemed to run out of valid issues in the 70's, got bored and started creating problems for their members rather than helping them.
If we need any clearer demonstration of how to finish off the union movement we only have to look to the docks and Patricks. That wasn't a contest and a general strike or simliar approach will simply alienate more potential support.
There is also the problem of workers who do abuse Unfair Dismissal procedures which is an easy convincer for public airing. I'm again not saying that is right as any legislation which reverses the weight and cost of legal proceedings for the worker to me is the way to go. But the few who do abuse it brand all claimants with the same name. Again an easy make in the media.
To me the only way to fight this degradation of workers rights and keep some balance in the employer/employee relationship is through a change of government which is what we are here for. Trying to change attitudes and voting intentions of existing and potential MP's.
Having written the above I am rather astonished that I have as I would prefer to scream and express my anger and frustration at what is coming. Maybe I'm learning to be more anlaytical rather than just letting my anger rule me. Or getting older as that mellows you I'm told. Perhaps I just see a need to play devils advocate as has been my vocation for many years.
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