Thursday, 2 June 2011

#BendigoHealth threats : #freespeech : #workplacerights : #corporateinvasion


Battles go on everywhere, everyday across the globe highlighting all sorts of issues.  I want to highlight a battle that is not as dramatic as the battles in Libya or Syria or Afghanistan.  This is a battle replicated in many ways in democratic civil societies across the globe.

One of the major battlegrounds is anything with the word "public" as part of its classification: public transport, public schools, public housing, public utilities, public roads, public health and public hospitals.  

In former communist countries like the USSR and in the still communist market savvy China, highly placed corrupt insiders and former party officials have purloined public property in which their nation had invested.  It's not quite the same in Australia and we don't have anything that quite compares with Eastern European oligarchs (give or take a mining millionaire) or the children of Deng Xiaoping.

What supporters of the free market who want to increase reach and wealth in Australia do is insinuate or worm their way into relationship with government enterprises.  The most scandalous of these relationships are PPPs - Public Private Partnerships. To understand the adverse impacts of PPPs, please follow the writings of Kenneth Davidson who is arguably their greatest critic in this country. The other widespread infiltration into the edifice of public service delivery is outsourcing.

Outsourcing has become an issue in Central Victoria because Bendigo Health wants to outsource pathology services. Staff are determined that the introduction of outsourced pathology will not be a lay down misere.  They are putting up a fight and are now the subject of threats by Bendigo Health

The High Court of Australia has determined that the Australian Constitution has within its weighty words an implied right to freedom of speech.  Obviously, Bendigo Health does not mind breaching the Constitution in favour of its own interests and the interests of corporate pathology.  

Whether the critical staff go ominously quiet at Bendigo Health in the face of the threats remains to be seen.  To keep their jobs over the long term, it might be advisable.  However, if they can't speak; if Bendigo Health insists on muzzling its workforce like some Dickensian employer then I think the rest of us should do it in whatever way we can: talk-back, old media - and the social media that Bendigo Health have vowed to monitor. 

Populations in The Middle East have hit the streets and brought about what is called an Arab Spring. Let's make this a Workplace Spring; a Public Sector Spring to protect workplace rights; the equitable public provision of services; and our right to freedom of speech in all its forms.

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