BJD in his blog questions which set of propaganda to believe re the Industrial Relations legislation before the house. Whilst I agree with his sentiment that truth lies somewhere between the two, I'm inclined more in the direction of what the Unions are saying but not because I like unions - I'm running with this on the basis of logic and experience based on what I saw pass through the old AIRC. I've also had the chance to read through the 1185 pages of legislation; just to let you know, it's not that exciting and most of it is purely operational.
I have remained very restrained in this blog about the Federal Government's Industrial Relations bill. Personally I think that it's an evil and incidious piece of legislation, designed to remove the ability of regular people to have a say in their employment conditions.
Currently, all workplaces are covered by a series of minimum standards that include: pay conditions, physical conditions, rights to leave loading, penalty rates and holiday pay, long service and superannuation constraints etc. These are covered under an instrument called an award. Awards provide a safety net for all workers, and a fair and level playing field for competing businesses. The Federal Govt. proposes the abolition of nearly 2900 awards nationally and wants to replace them with 16.
I don't see how you can compare work functions across industries myself. Minimum wages will vary according to the type and nature of the work involved.
The replacement of the awards system is by inference the setting up of individual employment agreements, known as Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). What happens persay if a person who isn't able to negotiate a new AWA effectively for themself. If their command of English or level of education isn't brilliant, unscrupulous employers (yes these do exist) can virtually hand out a cut in pay because they've re-negotiated a new contract.
Power in negotiation without union representation for unskilled workers gets handed to employers, and as business operators it is in their interests (namely profits) to pay as little in a wages bill as possible. It means that employers now have a "take it or leave it" stance on offering employment; the hard fact is that people need to work to be able to pay their own living expenses.
Mr Howard is perfectly correct when he says that it will make Australia more "competitive" but the reason for this is that the biggest single operating expense for most businesses is their wages bill. In a global economy, that wages bill needs to compete with the lower wages of Asia and Africa which over the next 20 years will see a dramatic increase in employment as jobs are exported there. In reality, competitiveness is funded by the working poor of the nation, and borders on exploitation.
I could go into other reasons like the removal of unfair dismissal laws, the removal of checks on agreements to ensure that there's no disadvantage re unfair contract conditions, and the increase of working hours but really because the Govt has control of all 3 levels of government, this legislation will pass on the nose.Add to this the scare campaign that was foisted on us when Mr Howard talked about fining workers over their rights to protest and it's little wonder people are annoyed.
Mr Howard is yet again actively acquiesing to put in place legisation to remove people rights, freedoms, wages and dignity. That's twice in a week, no wonder I have so little faith in the man or the Government he's the leader of.
When can I start calling the man evil? I've got more than enough proof now.