Monday, 11 May 2015

These days, the economy is run for the benefit of business, not the rest of us.

Picture below is from here.
More shocks with the reporting of some epic results following on the easing of work rights and obligations - this time connected to the 457 visas under which workers are sponsored to work in Australia by employers.  This time it is the 'enlightened' non-feminist firm Thiess which is a subsidiary/partner of its 'enlightened' non-feminist corporate colleague Leightons.  Please note that Leighton Holdings is now known as the CIMIC Group. Those familiar with the old Leightons Holding board will remember year after year of all male boards - but now they have moved on to the token female.  BTW, please note Miss Eagle does not agree with 'the goal' supported by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) of 30% of boards to be female. 

The Sex Discrimination Act has been in place since 1984.  Introduction of such legislation was part of Australia's obligation when ratifying the United Nations' Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  More than 30 years has gone by and corporations are only being pressed for 30% female representation!  But then WGEA - and its predecessors with other nomenclature - has always been a featherduster organisation.  And look where its so-called "carrot and stick" approach has got women.

In 2010 the then EOWA awarded Thiess an EOWA Award as an employer of choice for women.  This was at the time when there were all sorts of shenaningans going on at the site of the Wonthaggi desalination plant construction.  As for women lauding Thiess .... who? Professional women? Women further down the food chain?  With such undemanding standards, will Thiess Services and CIMIC Group end up employers of choice for women?  I don't think there is an award for providing sound workplace practices for migrant workers.  Clearly, if there was an award, I would expect Thiess Services to find themselves ineligible.  I think we could rely on the Electrical Trades Union to see to that. 

Complaints have been around for a long, long time.  Please see these listed in 2013

If you want too tickle your funny bone with a sardonic laugh or three, please read this from April last year. Note the panel for this review - a review which had its mind made up long before it began.  It had its goal clearly in view.  Now we are seeing the results of it.

Please note the ministerial responsibility in the review - it is that well known wife of fish, Senator Michaelia Cash.  These days she is the Assistant Minister for Border Protection (the portfolio for being cruel to refugees and asylum seekers, particularly women and their children) and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women. Australia does not have a Minister who only handles the portfolio of women's affairs because of its significance. And, of course, a woman cannot be expected to handle such a portfolio responsibly.  It is essential that the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott - who day-by-day has his credibility leaking as badly as a run down people-smuggling boat - gives significance to the portfolio.  Seems to be that gone are the days when significant women handled this portfolio with great success and benefit to those whom the portfolio served.

What we have found aired to us in recent weeks is that large numbers of men and women in the Australian workforce - particularly if they come from overseas on a 417 working holiday visa or a 457 employer sponsored visa - are treated shoddily.  The Liberal-National Parties currently in government in Australia, together with their corporate mates, are trashing Australia's reputation for fairness and equity.  Australia is becoming yet another rip-off station on the international circuit.

Such practices disadvantage ordinary Australians. How?

1. Can we really trust employers, as a group,  if they say they cannot fill their jobs with Australian employees?  Not all employers using 417s and 457s are bad employers.  However, when major corporations act like Thiess they bring everyone into disrepute.

2.  The enthusiasm with which the Abbott Government and their corporate cronies have adopted the concept - or some of the concept - of overseas working visas is part of an overall objective of driving down wages in Australia, particularly for unskilled or semi-skilled work.  And remember we don't yet know what Australia has signed up to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

3. Currently, Australian government agencies are not working for all Australians.  As a peep into the WGEA shows, no pressure is being brought to bear on recalcitrant employers and yet, as we saw in last year's Budget, the Abbott Government is prepared to place enormous financial and family pressures on Australian workers. 

4. Is Australia producing a new breed of refugees as people flee from us because of the evil and gross indecency of many employment practices in this country?

As you can see below, Networkers, I have included a reading list.  It's a bit of a mixed bag - but it will give you an idea of some of the stuff that is around and a lot of this stuff will have been inserted in the minds of politicians by professional lobbyists.  The last on the list is from one of my favourite economic commentators, Ross Gittins. I conclude this article with A Taste of Gittins from his article which I have included below:
To me the main drawback is not so much that employers may not try hard enough to find local workers to fill jobs, or that the availability of this external supply may limit to some extent the rise in skilled wages, but that it reduces employers' incentive go to the bother of training young workers. 

Still, we mustn't forget that, these days, 

the economy is run for the benefit of business, not the rest of us.

Further reading







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