The Rise and Rise of Digital Sweat Shops

WorkChoices wasn’t popular, however, it seems fear and desperation may just revive a type of pseudo  – WorkChoices situation unless the government is quick to crack down on this trend.

Minimum wage: Anxious workers offer skills for $4 an hour

AUSTRALIANS are offering their skills for as little as $4 an hour on websites that let them compete against each other for work in an eBay-like bidding system.

Workers anxious to secure work during the global economic downturn are turning to websites such as Elance and iFreelance, where the lowest wage gets the gig.

Blogging critics have dubbed the sites “digital sweatshops” that take advantage of stressed-out workers who resort to menial jobs at terrible rates.

With the unemployment rate expected to jump to 7 per cent next year, Australians are putting their skills forward for pay well below the minimum wage of $14.31 per hour, with one person asking for just $4 an hour for a writing and translation job.

Australian workers earned $283,000 on employment website Elance in 2008, an 8 per cent increase from 2007.

Sharan Burrow, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), said she was concerned some employers would use the economic downturn to cut pay and conditions.

“Australian workers should carefully check whether jobs advertised on these websites pay the legal minimum rates if the job is based in Australia,” Ms Burrow said.

Australian employers are also turning to the virtual job market to find cheap employees: 1484 Australia-based accounts have hired an elancer in the past six months.

Australian bosses paid $US898,000 to online employees in 2008, up 44 per cent from $US624,000 in 2007.

Chief marketing officer at Elance Brad Porteus said the financial crisis had directly contributed to the increase in Australian users of the site.

“The macro-economic environment has certainly fuelled what has been a steady growth trend, as people become increasingly willing to explore this new way of working,” Mr Porteus said.

I’ve got to say that this is a very disturbing trend that really threatens the integrity of Australian labor relations.  Just consider the amount of immigrants coming into  Australia on working visas and the temptation for many employers to drastically reduce costs of labour.  With the prospect of large scale unemployment will the employment market become a ‘race to the bottom’ ?

Over To You

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115 Responses

  1. The antinomy is this: if a government is elected to govern for the people of Australia why, at a time of predicted high unemployment and a drastic downturn in the financial well-being of many Australians, hasn’t an immediate cessation been called to immigration?

  2. You must be aware of the arguments for immigration: that immigrants bring lots of money into the economy, that the population swell stimulates increased demand … etc etc.

  3. It is not just e-commerce sites that are doing this, contract postions in IT have reached ridiculous levels.

    I am at the point now where I will not even apply for fear of encouraging this practice.

    One particular role (for a three month contract) was advertised at $60/hour before Christmas.

    The same role is now being offered for $35/hour.

    And I applied for a two week stint in a Toolroom, but refused again as this cheapskate was offering $22/hour.

    I have since began applying for labourer and production worker jobs.

    It is ridiculous, but the money offered there is better than with a University degree behind me. I will probably not get them as I am ‘too qualified’.

    Funnily though, I do not have a real problem with these e-commerce sites, as long as they have some kind of minimum price set. From the description, John, this is not the case with the sites linked. I liken it to these bozzos offering slave rates for skilled labour. I hope they get what they pay for. I would like to see a minimum set.

    A design site I have visited sometimes called 99designs has a policy for a minimum price for work. This can be a good way of earning money. It can also be a great way to waste hours. But predatory sites that let users bid to ridiculous levels is not in the best interest of anybody.

  4. Caney, on February 14th, 2009 at 11:11 am Said:

    You must be aware of the arguments for immigration: that immigrants bring lots of money into the economy, that the population swell stimulates increased demand … etc etc.

    Caney, I have absolutely no problem with immigration, however, immigrants and employers need to operate under a standard set of rules that are deemed fair and reasonable.

  5. Stephan, on February 14th, 2009 at 10:43 am Said:

    The antinomy is this: if a government is elected to govern for the people of Australia why, at a time of predicted high unemployment and a drastic downturn in the financial well-being of many Australians, hasn’t an immediate cessation been called to immigration?

    I agree that given current circumstances some policy/ or a range of policies may need to be carefully looked at to ensure that the integrity of our IR system isn’t compromised.

  6. TomR

    Rather than being concerned about specifics I take a broader view on what is good and what is a potential threat to a system I believe is relatively fair and just.

    It’s a bit like the broken windows theory that is often applied to crime and general disorder. Don’t allow unfair practices ‘like the exploitation of cheap labour’ take hold

    http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12630201
    A PLACE that is covered in graffiti and festooned with rubbish makes people feel uneasy. And with good reason, according to a group of researchers in the Netherlands. Kees Keizer and his colleagues at the University of Groningen deliberately created such settings as a part of a series of experiments designed to discover if signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave. They found that they could, by a lot: doubling the number who are prepared to litter and steal.

    The idea that observing disorder can have a psychological effect on people has been around for a while. In the late 1980s George Kelling, a former probation officer who now works at Rutgers University, initiated what became a vigorous campaign to remove graffiti from New York City’s subway system, which was followed by a reduction in petty crime. This idea also underpinned the “zero tolerance” which Rudy Giuliani subsequently brought to the city’s streets when he became mayor.

  7. John re your: Just consider the amount of immigrants coming into Australia on working visas and the temptation for many employers to drastically reduce costs of labour. With the prospect of large scale unemployment will the employment market become a ‘race to the bottom’ ?

    This one is to do with 457’s but surely there must be a flow through to anyone entering Australia on a working visa.

    http://www.alp.org.au/media/0209/msimmc120.php – payment of 457 Visa holders will now have to be made at market rates.

    “This will ensure that temporary skilled overseas workers are not employed ahead of local workers or used to undermine Australian wages
    and conditions.

    “The principle of the Subclass 457 visa scheme is to supplement – not replace – the local workforce when there are serious skills shortages.

    “The scheme is not to be used to employ overseas workers at the expense of local labour.”

    And not only but also..I did read (sorry no link) that employers will have to pay the return airfares which addresses the issue of 457 visa holders being threatened into accepting far less than what they were promised/the threat of being considered illegal overstayers.

  8. Min

    That’s heartening to hear. However, as conditions changes the bargaining power of employers even over local workers will no doubt increase. It my experience that when people are desperate and fearful enough some employers will make attempts to lower their labour costs in all manner of devious ways.

  9. “I agree that given current circumstances some policy/ or a range of policies may need to be carefully looked at to ensure that the integrity of our IR system isn’t compromised.”

    Now come on John, I was lambasted by the all knowing twit Ken L for raising the same question a week or two ago in discussing the economy. Tread carefully………….

  10. It was only last year that we were complaining about having a skills shortage and qualified people could virtually pick and choose their work and many employers were finding it hard to retain people. The balance of power now seems to be shifting.

  11. Hi John..hubby has been a shop steward in the metal trades and so yes I certainly know what you mean about bargaining power.

    Just from previous experience I don’t think that we will know the true situation until about May. Normal is, laid off prior to Christmas and no rehiring until early March and often not until after Easter.

  12. John McPhilbin

    I agree, which is why I put up the example of the site with a minimum pricing standard set.

    This is a brave new world though, as this is a truly global economy. We are now competing with people from all over the world on a fairly even terms (in work access I mean). The difference is in the living standards of those participating. So a worker from a 3rd word country will easily be able to outbid someone from a 1st world country.

    I do not know if there is any formal structure for a global pricing mechanism, but allowing the lowest denominator to succeed is not the way to go. This can only drag others down, not raise others up.

  13. Caney, I certainly am aware of that line of reasoning. I have also read academic papers (Google is your friend) that say immigration drives wages down.

  14. Stephan, on February 14th, 2009 at 12:02 pm Said:

    Caney, I certainly am aware of that line of reasoning. I have also read academic papers (Google is your friend) that say immigration drives wages down.

    Additionally, as the global economy continues to struggle I’m sure that Australia will be seen as a relatively enticing work destination, especially for many of our poorer neighbours.

    And the last thing we want to do is to get caught in a downward spiral as far as wages and conditions are concerned.

  15. We also got to be aware that China’s interest in Australian mining and resources poses at potential treat to local jobs as well. No long are they willing to pay premiums like they have been in the past.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,25051425-643,00.html
    A KEY component of Rio Tinto’s sales pitch to the federal Government — that the Chinalco alliance will allow it to save thousands of Australian jobs — has been undermined by the company’s repeated refusal to reveal how many local workers already face the axe.

    Rio yesterday confirmed as many as 3000 local jobs would be at risk if the Chinalco deal did not go ahead. That number is on top of the 14,000 jobs Rio is slashing worldwide as part of its strategy to reduce debt.

  16. Sparta

    “Now come on John, I was lambasted by the all knowing twit Ken L for raising the same question a week or two ago in discussing the economy. Tread carefully………….”

    I can’t help it Sparta, it’s the labour analyst in me that makes me mutter these things.

  17. “Min, on February 14th, 2009 at 11:50 am Said:

    Hi John..hubby has been a shop steward in the metal trades and so yes I certainly know what you mean about bargaining power.

    Just from previous experience I don’t think that we will know the true situation until about May. Normal is, laid off prior to Christmas and no rehiring until early March and often not until after Easter.”

    It makes no wonder why many people are now feeling so anxious about their futures. I hope your hubby comes through alright.

  18. The primary motive of business to to make profits and if that means cutting the usual costs labor, then consider it done.

    Thanks for fighting the fires, but now you’re sacked
    http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25051894-5001021,00.html
    By Ben Butler

    February 14, 2009 12:00am

    THREE of Victoria’s firefighting heroes have been rewarded with the sack by brewing giant Foster’s.

    They are among 115 maintenance workers to be laid off by Foster’s at its Abbotsford brewery.

    One of the men, CFA deputy group officer Shane Cramer, said he was fighting fires at Beechworth on Wednesday when the plant manager called to tell him he had lost his job.

    Another of the sacked heroes heard of his dismissal fighting a fire.

    Mr Cramer said he told the plant manager he was busy, but was read a prepared statement. “The whole call was bizarre and surreal,” he said.

  19. The thing that jumped into my head after reading your post, John, was this question:

    Should not a sane adult person be permitted to exercise their own free will and advertise their services for four dollars an hour – or any other amount they see fit – if they so choose?

    I say yes they should. It is not the role of government to interfere in such a victimless transaction, particularly where the work-seeker is setting the hourly rate – not the other way round.

  20. John,

    “I can’t help it Sparta, it’s the labour analyst in me that makes me mutter these things.”

    I know we disagree on many things but I think we have found common ground here in terms of importing labor during a recession! Madness!!!!!!

  21. Hey Sparta,

    Was there much fallout from the Cardinals loss? Any mass sackings? Or did they close ranks and resolve to go one better next year?

  22. Tony

    I don’t know whether you’ve noticed Tony but Australians are also carrying record amounts of personal debt and an overwhelming majority of basic economic stimulus relies on consumer spending to continue.

    We’re heading into a potentially deep recessions because economic growth has been driven in large part by consumer debt which gave businesses the impression that earnings would be endless, and our stock market reflected that assumption as did the phenomenal rise in housing prices and rents significantly in advance of wage rises.

    I’m really surprised by your comments.

    What you propose is likely to send us into a deep depression from which the damage done could take decades to correct.

  23. Sparta of Phoenix, AZ USA, on February 14th, 2009 at 1:13 pm Said:

    John,

    “I can’t help it Sparta, it’s the labour analyst in me that makes me mutter these things.”

    I know we disagree on many things but I think we have found common ground here in terms of importing labor during a recession! Madness!!!!!!

    We certainly are Sparta

  24. John, I’m not proposing anything other than individuals being allowed to exercise their will free from government interference. Note: I am not advocating that employers go outside established minimum wage guidelines, but the websites you refer to are for freelance labour offered at hourly rates of the labourers’ choosing.

  25. John. It’s been happening for a very long time via short term contracts and casualisation of the work force. With the latter, I believe that Australia is the world ‘leader’. Add into the mix record home unaffordability, the unavailability of reasonably priced rental properties and record house hold debt.

    Re hubby..I’m sort of used to it. Reasonably good money during the term of the job but then you have the down-time watching your savings go down the tube. My theory is, as long as there is another job at the end of it. However, with a Recession there may not be another job at the end of it.

  26. Just a thought, but perhaps I could get a job..just 50 cents an hour. Mind you, I don’t know thruppence about the work involved and have absolutely none of the required skills. You get what you pay for. But should add in for John, as long as the market holds.

  27. re 3 firefighter’s getting the sack from Foster’s over the phone.

    Another of the sacked heroes heard of his dismissal fighting a fire.

    Mr Cramer said he told the plant manager he was busy, but was read a prepared statement. “The whole call was bizarre and surreal,” he said.

    So, the guy is actually in the middle of a flaming inferno and the manager or HRM dept. is reading out a prepared statement of his termination.

    My first thoughts was that business couldn’t get much more ruthless than that, but I’m sure they can!

    I will add Foster’s to the list of products that I refuse to purchase.

    (Tony) Note: I am not advocating that employers go outside established minimum wage guidelines, but the websites you refer to are for freelance labour offered at hourly rates of the labourers’ choosing.

    But by employing these people, would they not then be going outside of established guidelines?

    I think that if the sites are allowing people to advertise their labour below Australian established pay scales, they should be shut down. It’s a slippery slope to reducing Australian worker’s wages and conditions by stealth.

    It’s the same argument as John Howard’s Workchoices – once something like this takes hold it’s a race to the bottom and everyone ends up affected by it.

  28. Tony, on February 14th, 2009 at 12:59 pm Said:

    “Should not a sane adult person be permitted to exercise their own free will and advertise their services for four dollars an hour – or any other amount they see fit – if they so choose?”

    Certainly not the first time this issue has been raised. The problem of undercutting the ‘going rate’ was prominent in the early 19th Century with the Luddite Movement which is commonly believed to be a reaction against the introduction of technology that displaced and deskilled labour.

    In those times, the Government was decidely on the side of employers with many ‘frame breakers’ executed (by hanging) and many more transported to Australia.

    Do people have the ‘right’ to sell their labour at any price? Do people have the ‘right’ to protect their working conditions and lifestyle? Both seem reasonable propositions at least at a superficial level.

    Nevertheless, when ‘rights’ conflict we often have tragedy.

  29. Nature, among the early transportees were: The Tolpuddle Martyrs..were six men from the village of Tolpuddle in Dorset who were transported to Australia on the Surrey in 1834. They were sentenced for unlawfully administering oaths of loyalty to the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers they had established to fight the continuing reduction of their wages. This was the beginning of Trade Unionism in England plus the Machine Breakers.

  30. kittylitter

    It would be nice to do, but unfortunately, they operate in international space, so there is not a lot we can do.

    Except perhaps provide some kind of internet monitor to block sites 🙂

    That is why I would be interested if anybody was aware of any international laws applicable to these scenarios.

  31. ps..I’ll bet the above example of Australian history would never have made it into JWH’s citizenship test.

  32. I think that if the sites are allowing people to advertise their labour below Australian established pay scales, they should be shut down.

    Not only would you deny the individuals’ right to offer their services at an hourly rate of their choosing, you would punish the owner of the website which carries the ads by shutting down his business. That’s the kind of behaviour more commonly associated with a police state, not a free society like ours.

  33. The only trouble Tony is if you start allowing some sort of bartering system to undermine other workers’ wages then you can also undermine other conditions which might possibly include health, safety, minimum age.

  34. What Tony is highlighting here is a conflict of interest between the private rights of individuals and the collective rights (gains) of a society.

    Let’s not forget that ‘individualism’ was at its greatest when there was no civilization. The ‘other’ (society if you like) is both a source and a constraint on one’s individual freedom.

  35. Individualism also almost caused the extinction of the human species umpteen millenia ago. Anthropologists suggest that the only thing that enabled the species to survive was collectivism.

  36. Tony, on February 14th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    As an employer should I have the right to import labor from (anywhere) because in a free society it should be my ‘right’ to do as i please?

  37. Labour not labor. He he.

  38. This is where the stimulus bill will help. Better to have people working rebuilding schools, constructing affordable houses and such than being forced onto unemployment where eventually they or parts of their family will be motivated to take up such exploitive jobs. And hopefully it means that some workers won’t become so disallusioned w/ the system that they spend all day reading FEAR & HATE literature and TRICKY DICK tabloids that motivate them to blame their lot on migrants & other oft persecuted groups…& in turn see the growth of parties like One Nation again that in the long run hurt exports & create social divisions.

    It’s in the interest of any employer deriving from said persecuted groups to be as socially responsible as possible & retain staff at the expense of profit during contraction periods.

    There needs to be stiff penalties for such exploitation of workers labour power, but we know this is an imperfect world & backpackers, new migrants & the financially desperate will turn to such low paid work & consumers will search for cheap products resulting from it…and it’s difficult to stop it from eventuating.

    Paying out appropriate unemployment benefits can be part of the preventative but their must be intense training/retraining expectations as a part of the deal. At this point we need a more planned economy…w/ cooperation between worker’s representatives, business groups, financiers, governments & so on…w/ a coherent vision for Australia’s manufacturing & other sectors future.

    We obviously cannot rely on riding the resource boom back for any longer…tho there will be higher demands in the future…it’s important that we balance our economy more and stop relying on booms & unpredictable rollercoaster rides.

    Another reason it’s essential we have a diverse media that is not just reliant on the dollars of industries that are archaic, unpredictable, low paid, redirecting too much capital offshore, and oft socially & environmentally irresponsible…the messages & information that audiences receive from this puppet media can be far too myopic & undermine the common good, security & the national interest w/out offering appropriate options. It’s often about short-term greed…the promotion of the housing boom & some shonky investment banks & such are cases in point.

    N’

  39. Well said Nasking.

  40. N5

    As an employer should I have the right to import labor from (anywhere) because in a free society it should be my ‘right’ to do as i please?

    Ideally, yes. However, I recognise the need for a safety net to protect the most vulnerable, and as I pointed out above: ‘I am not advocating that employers go outside established minimum wage guidelines.’

    Those advertising on the websites highlighted by John, however, have assumed the role of small-business people, offering services at an hourly rate. They do not fit the description of employees.

  41. Tony

    ‘Ideally yes’.

    Canwe explore some other ‘ideals’? Should I have the right to take whatever drug I choose, drive at what ever speed takes my fancy, disregard social norms whether they be supported by laws or not?

    In other words does your ‘ideals’ cater for any limits to one’s freedom? Does your ‘ideals’ include any obligation to the other (broadly defined)?

    Remember we are talking about ‘ideals’ are we not?

  42. My ideals are moderated by the rules of polite society.

  43. Tony, on February 14th, 2009 at 3:31 pm Said:

    “My ideals are moderated by the rules of polite society.”

    But is that (moderation) a cause for regret or for celebration?

  44. Let’s just say I am a realist.

  45. That’s the kind of behaviour more commonly associated with a police state, not a free society like ours.

    Free society? You must be joking.

    We are shackled and straitjacketed by so many laws, rules and regulations that we can’t even walk down the street without being monitored.

    You mean a free market society, do you?

    Where property rights are more important than human rights. Individuals sometimes need protecting from themselves, from selling their labour so cheaply that they will be exploited.

  46. Let me put it another way. On balance, is your ‘freedom’ restricted or enhanced by being a member of this ‘polite society’?

    Or would your ‘freedom’ be greater if there were no society and you were all alone?

  47. We are shackled and straitjacketed by so many laws, rules and regulations that we can’t even walk down the street without being monitored.

    Then it’s strange, if you feel that way, that you would want even more regulation, such as shutting down websites.

  48. N5

    I’m not advocating anarchy, if that’s what you mean.

  49. Bring on the anarchy. We’re all doomed anyway, just a pathetic horde of lamastes.

    No single one of us is worth the air that we steal from the less spiteful living organisms on this toilet Earth.

  50. Time for a bit of personal disclosure!

    Employment rights has been a passion of mine for some time, as a manager and analyst and it’s a passion that’s landed me in a very nasty place simply because I believe strongly in the principles of respect and dignity in the workplace.

    And believe me, I’m no pushover when it comes to standing up for my rights, my concern is always that the system fails even when laws are in place designed to prevent the violation of basic employee rights. I know this from personal experience.

    No Bully For You
    http://workers.labor.net.au/features/200410/b_tradeunion_summit.html
    Phil Doyle reports on how bringing dignity and respect to the workplace is undermining bullies.

    *******

    When John McPhilbin strode to the microphone at the Sydney Opera House last month he was a nervous man.

    McPhilbin, a former soldier who had undergone interrogation training, had come to tell how systematic bullying at Chubb Security had destroyed his physical and psychological health. ”

    After having my career derailed in 2003 I’ve been unable to get back into the workforce. Not for the lack of trying.

    Unfortunately, I took a stance against workplace bullying and incompetent management practices, in which one officer had been killed in the lie of duty which could and should have been prevented.

    In spite of my former employer failing in their obligations along with WorkCover and the insurer I’ve found myself locked into a situation where employers view me as a potential liability because 1) I blew the whistle, 2) I’ve been on workers compensation for a prolonged period, and 3) I’ve suffered a psychological injury.

    Whistleblower Beats Bullies
    http://workers.labor.net.au/251/news84_bullies.html
    A security company employee who blew the whistle on a rampant bullying has had a win over insurance company attempts to deny him compensation.”

    After winning my entitlements I’ve found that my employment options have shrunk in spite of my obvious skills, knowledge and qualifications. And sadly, if I wanted to apply for a business loan I’d also be rejected on the grounds that I pose a potential for loan default.

    For 5 years I’ve been living of 60% of previous earnings based on salary which excludes the significant fringe benefits I was receiving.

    After having my last specialist assessment in 2006 I was contacted recently by the insurer who’d decided that it was probably time to try and assist me in anyway possible.

    This comes after 5 years of hell in which they and my previous employer both failed,and have continue to fail in their obligations under law. I can’t pursue my former employee for damages because workers compensation laws in NSW prevent workers from pursuing negligence claims excepting those workers who are either dead or are completely incapacitated.

    And all of this took place in spite of me following the letter of the law and being well versed in industrial law.

    In short, I’ve been labeled a liability as a result of my experience in a system that’s clearly failed.

  51. John. You have been treated appallingly, and have suffered unfairly, due to the atrocious behaviour of others. You have my sympathy, as well as my respect. May things look up for you, very soon.

  52. John, you have my sympathies. It explains a lot. Best wishes.

    Cheers.

  53. “No single one of us is worth the air that we steal from the less spiteful living organisms on this toilet Earth.”

    I have my moments, sometimes days, of feeling that way TB. Some say it’s a lack of Seretonin…I put it down to the displays of madness & irrationality & just plain meanness I see around me & on the TV/computer screen, often justified, enabled & sanctioned by the so called educated elite who govern our nations, run the media companies & corporations, religious organisations & most other institutions…tho the general populace are as much to blame for their conformity & lack of empathy and reflection.

    However, I’m beginning to see the early signs of a wholesale transformation…the priorities of some of the governing class are shifting. ‘Cold as ice’ thievery at the top levels & sycophantic adulation of the odd twins that are prosperity religion & social Darwinism is diminishing…& “compasionate conning/conservatism” is being replaced w/ “bottom up economics”…& “practical charity”…

    A HOME is generally run more effectively w/ a PLAN that allows for certain flexibility and constructive criticism & communication. The same goes for a business. And the utilisation of the talents, abilities, skills & knowledge of all members of that HOME or business w/in a structure that demonstrates respect for all…& willingness to compromise & negotiate.

    Overcoming hard times calls for open discussion, meetings, reassessment & perhaps alteration of existing goals & plans, making sacrifices, but never forgetting the need to RESPECT & negotiate.

    As far as I’m concerned the Liberal & National parties failed to RESPECT & NEGOTIATE…in turn they have failed to REPRESENT their constituents adequately…have attempted to block measures that the majority of the people deem necessary to cope w/ these volatile & potentially dangerous economic and environmental times…and demonstrated no more flexibility, imagination, compromise and sense of responsibility than a spoilt, drug addicted home owner who is unwilling to make the financial sacrifices and put in the outdoor work necessary to prevent foreclosure and demonstrate respect for their neighbourhood.

    The minor parties members have been rational, pragmatic & demonstrated responsibility…& in turn REPRESENTED their constituents w/ both vigour & imagination. They should be applauded.

    It seems to me TB that the Opposition benchers have shown such a dogmatic stubborness that one might wonder if their intention was not only to sabotage the future of this Nation…but to create socio-economic anarchy, not dissimilar to the crazed circus we witnessed in the American, British & European markets during the reign of Bush & Blair & Berlusconi…the battering waves of which we are attempting to protect our selves from at this very moment.

    “Bring on the anarchy” you say…probably in a moment of frustration & despair…but it seems CHANGE IS COMING…let us not fulfil the sick fantasies of the Neo-Libs & Faux Libertarians who it seems may wish us ill in order to be the last elite standing to mop up the goods after THE FALL.

    This EBAY nonsense is a demonstration of how far the wicked are willing to go to bring about that FALL. Willing to suck the very last vestiges of sanity from the despairing.

    N’…thanking Min.

  54. That’s rough John.

    I think it was Stephan who said yesterday that you should go and get a job. Proves for sure that this is a site where attacking the man/woman should be avoided.

  55. “John, you have my sympathies. It explains a lot. Best wishes.”

    Same here John.

    N’

  56. ” Proves for sure that this is a site where attacking the man/woman should be avoided.”

    Agree! But can I add that no matter how ‘nice’ a contributor appears, or how influential that person might appear, a crap idea or argument should be subject to the same intellectual rigour (rigor if you like) as that advanced by an outsider.

    People have good arguments and they also advance crap at times. The focus should be on the POVs rather than the person.

  57. Ah yes, the downside of Globalisation.

    The Workplace Ombudsman should be all over this.

    By paying under the lawful Australian Minimum, any Aussie employer that hops onto this bandwaggon is probably gonna leave themselves wide-open to a prosecution under S719 of the Workplace Relations Act, as well as action under S720 for recovery of the underpaid amounts.

    Tony at 12.59 refers to this sort of thing as a “victimless transaction”, which either means that he’s one of the dudes offering these jobs, or else he’s on waaaay better than $4 per-hour and thinks that the peasants oughta be grateful they’ve got a job at all.

    This sort of thinking was once used to justify the Feudal System and it’s quite apparent that some still yearn for the good old days.

    All I can say is: $4 per-hour is just fine, as long as you’re not on it, trying to make ends-meet.

    And if you wouldn’t work for $4 per-hour, then why the Hell should someone else?

    Victimless, my arse.

  58. Thanks everyone for your kind words. Here’s the thing that’s blown me away about my experience, It’s made me a lot wiser and hopefully a lot more compassionate to the plight of others. I now take time to try and walk in others shoes and see things the way they may be seeing things.

    I was stuck in a rut where work was all that mattered and it was my conscience that brought me down. I’d noticed that in spite of the ruthless ‘bottom line’ nature of certain senior executives, most people were willing to turn a blind eye.

    I couldn’t do it, however, unfortunately the constant conflict had taken it’s toll and before I knew what was happening my health was failing (both physically and mentally)

    My weakness was in fact my strength. What I mean by that is I was never going to back down and let them win, however, the culture was such that I didn’t understand their was no way to achieve a victory. The most senior levels didn’t want to know and were never willing to address the issues because they were simply too hard.

    Today, I quite readily appreciate that no one can lay claim to being super-human and that depression can happen to anyone. I used to think suicide was a real cop out until I was faced with the type of thoughts that I’m sure many who’ve ended their lives have had. I could never do it simply because I love my children.

    And amazingly, I think these experiences have only served to make me stronger.

    In fact, expressing myself through blogging and sharing what I know (and what I think I know -wink) has been a real lifeline.

  59. Nature5

    Agree! But can I add that no matter how ‘nice’ a contributor appears, or how influential that person might appear, a crap idea or argument should be subject to the same intellectual rigour (rigor if you like) as that advanced by an outsider.

    People have good arguments and they also advance crap at times. The focus should be on the POVs rather than the person.”

    I agree, play the ball and not the person. I simply can’t stomach character assassinations simple because I have a different opinion.

    I’ll readily admit that although I may present my arguments in a forthright manner, it doesn’t alway make me right. In fact, on Blogocracy there was many a time where I’d been pulled up on issues and later realised I very well could be wrong. And if I come to the conclusion I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. In fact, I take any mistake or misunderstanding as a real opportunity to learn.

  60. John McP,

    I’ve just read your disclosure at 9.21.

    Good-on you for sticking-up for yourself and others and for not letting a bunch of arseholes wear you down.

    And keep blogging.

  61. Evan, you’re as bad as me still blogging at this hour. Thanks, and I will keep blogging.

  62. JMcP

    Yeah, must be the night shift.

    You’re also right about the lousy Common Law rights of injured workers in NSW.

    Any such worker, as you know, has to be achieve a permanent Whole Person Impairment of 15% or more to be entitled to bring such a claim.

    That’s 15% on the American Medical Association scales where they use a one-size-fits-all mechanistic assessment method. You know, range of movement of this, neurological impairment of that, all measured against some anatomical perfection.

    Getting to this threshold usually requires the loss of an arm and a leg. Quite literally.

    A good rule of thumb is that if you’re not in a wheelchair for good, forget it.

    And where there is a dispute as to whether a worker gets to the threshold, that dispute is referred off to be bindingly settled by a medico selected from a panel of old geezers, most of whom were Insurance company toadys before they were appointed.

    It’s Judge Roy Bean stuff..

    Both the NSW Bar Association (representing Barristers) and the Law Society of NSW (representing Solicitors) argued strongly against this threshold and system before it was introduced in 2002, but to no avail.

    The State Government caved-in to the Insurance Industry.

    And the Insurers have been laughing all the way to the bank ever since.

    It’s a shitty Law.

  63. John, nothing like what you’ve been through but a number of years ago husband J suffered an injury at work and ended up spending 6 months in a full metal back brace. No compensation as the argument (and there were a number of company lawyers involved) was that he had a pre-existing condition, a spinal disability from having contracted polio as a baby. We simply did not have the resources to fight such a large organisation. As you say, “the culture was such that I didn’t understand their was no way to achieve a victory”. The minute the men wearing suits and carry briefcases arrived on our doorstep on several occasions making statements such as You agree that… That was it for us.

  64. Min

    Absolutely. The primary aim of all insurance companies is to reduce liability claims. Do they employ underhanded tactics to achieve this, I think so. Pre-existing condition is a favourite.

    The initial reason for denying my claim is that the conflict was it was a legal issue and not a medical issue. Yet, workplace bullying is clearly covered under OH&S law.

    And what I found offensive was that after fighting and winning entitlements the very same insurance company were, by law, suppose to assist me with rehabilitation. By then, I’d been conveniently sacked.

    In fact, the debate now is who has failed in their obligations under law. I know I’ve tried and followed every letter to the law and yet I’m in this position.

    The discussion I had recently centred on previous contact with the insurer and efforts they’d made to date to assist me. It was agreed that one failure after another led to me being in my current position. My file is currently being reviewed, however, it’s almost a certainty that the next attempt at moving forward will be another request for me to brush the past under the table and move on in a more positive frame of mind (lol) Again, it comes back to every attempt will be made to brush the issue of liability under the carpet and unfortunately the laws in NSW allow insurers to do this.

  65. That’s some pretty harsh injustice you’ve endured JMcP.
    Things must be scary for the average bloke if the system can flog a man with a mind as sharp as yours .

    I have a link…with a rather sensationalist heading…

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25056948-23109,00.html

    “The G7 reiterated the view of several top delegates that protectionism – when countries take measures that favour their economies at the expense of others – was a threat to stability.

    “The G7 remains committed to avoiding protectionist measures, which would only exacerbate the downturn, to refraining from raising new barriers” to business across borders, the statement said.”

    I am curious, is it a certainty that “protectionist measures would only exacerbate the downturn”? & if so why?

    To me, economically illiterate, it seems that if we are to faithfully lash ourselves to “One World Market” & there is not enough growth/wealth/demand/resources to go around then isn’t it so that there must be a levelling across the “global population”. Will the standard of living in Third World & developing countries improve marginally causing our own charmed standards of largesse to fall steeply? Will the Bigfish’ continue to exploit & devour the easy targets.
    I’ve no idea what would work better but the way things are done now doesn’t appear to be sustainable.

  66. Evan, on February 15th, 2009 at 2:26 am Said:

    JMcP

    Yeah, must be the night shift.

    Sorry mate, I know some people have to work (lol)

    Mate you’ve covered the shitty laws perfectly! Following is the content of a letter I’ve forwarded to the NSW Government on numerous occasions without response:

    25 Febraury 2006
    Re: Complaint: WorkCover and Mr Della Bosca’s Office

    Dear Minister

    I have repeatedly asked for an investigation into the treatment I have had to endure since lodging a workers compensation claim back in August 2003. Neither WorkCover or Mr Della Bosca’s office have bothered to address sufficiently, the issues I have raised.

    Both departments are aware of the substance of my complaint (for some time now) and I was hoping you could intervene on my behalf so I can achieve a level of closure I can live with.

    I am now earning half of what I was when I was employed and have had to seek a ‘mortgage repayment reduction’ in order to survive. Add to that a tainted reputation and depressive illness and I face a major obstacle to rebuilding a career anyway.

    ● In an email dated August 2005 I outlined my concerns to Mr Blackwell (CEO WorkCover NSW), and are as follows:

    1. In 2003 when I initially made my claim, one of my stipulations was for an anti-bullying program to be implemented by Chubb, that would provide a safeguard for myself an others from any further abuses. It wasn’t until late 2004 that Chubb implemented a policy and only after WorkCover had paid them a visit (well after my employment was terminated).
    2. This stipulation was initially ignored repeatedly in spite of the fact that CGU, Chubb, and the Rehab provider being well aware of the request. It was also pointed out by me that it was in fact an employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment (all parties were refered to to
    relevant WorkCover guidelines.)
    3. CGU, after ignoring the evidence showing that bullying had indeed occurred, denied my
    claim.
    4. Soon after Chubb terminated my employment.
    5. I spend all of 2004 fighting for my entitlements to be reinstated.
    6. I won back my entitlements to weekly payments as well as medical coverage (approximately
    12 months after my claim was prematurely declined)
    The key questions I asked in relation to the above were:
    (a) Were the actions taken by Chubb and CGU deemed as lawful under the OHS and Workers
    Compensation Act? I believe they clearly weren’t.
    (b) Does WorkCover realise and acknowledge the true extent of pain suffered by myself and my family as a result of this type of treatment?
    ( c) Should Chubb and CGU be held accountable for their actions? I believe some type of action is clearly indicated.

    In short, I followed all of the processes and procedures available to me under OHS and Workers
    Compensation law, yet the system failed me, just like I am sure it is failing others.

    I would appreciate a response from your office in relation to the complaint I have raised.

    Yours sincerely
    John McPhilbin

  67. Toiletboss, on February 15th, 2009 at 8:55 am Said:

    That’s some pretty harsh injustice you’ve endured JMcP.
    Things must be scary for the average bloke if the system can flog a man with a mind as sharp as yours .”

    And can you believe it, I had and still have a good working knowledge of IR and OHS law. I constantly think of how it must be for those who have absolutely no knowledge. I’ve heard many stories.

    We simply cannot get a fair go or justice which leaves many of us trapped. This alone is causing major depression among many I’m sure.

  68. VERY hard for the uninformed to beat those odds!

  69. Toiletboss

    This is a topic I’d like to cover shortly Toiletboss, but in the meantime here’s a good starter reference.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protectionism

    Arguments Against Protectionism

    Protectionism is frequently criticised as harming the people it is meant to help, instead of aiding them; these critics often support free trade. Some have denounced critics of protectionism as ideologues whose opinions are shaped more by ideology than facts. However, nearly all economists are supporters of free trade.[1] Economic theory, under the principle of comparative advantage, shows that the gains from free trade outweigh any losses; as free trade creates more jobs than it destroys because it allows countries to specialize in the production of goods and services in which they have a comparative advantage.[12] Protectionism results in deadweight loss; this loss to overall welfare gives no-one any benefit, unlike in a free market, where there is no such total loss. According to economist Stephen P. Magee, the benefits of free trade outweigh the losses by as much as 100 to 1.[13]

    Economists, such as Milton Friedman and Paul Krugman, have argued that free trade helps third world workers, even though they are not subject to the stringent health and labour standards of developed countries. This is because “the growth of manufacturing — and of the myriad of other jobs that the new export sector creates — has a ripple effect throughout the economy” that creates competition among producers, lifting wages and living conditions.[14] It has even been suggested that those who support protectionism ostensibly to further the interests of third world workers are being disingenuous, seeking only to protect jobs in developed countries.[15] Additionally, workers in the third world only accept jobs if they are the best on offer, as all mutually consensual exchanges benefit both sides. That they accept low-paying jobs from first world companies shows that the jobs they would have had otherwise are even worse.

    Alan Greenspan, former chair of the American Federal Reserve, has criticised protectionist proposals as leading “to an atrophy of our competitive ability. … If the protectionist route is followed, newer, more efficient industries will have less scope to expand, and overall output and economic welfare will suffer.”[16]

    Protectionism has also been accused of being one of the major causes of war. Proponents of this theory point to the constant warfare in the 17th and 18th centuries among European countries whose governments were predominantly mercantalist and protectionist, the American Revolution, which came about primarily due to British tariffs and taxes, as well as the protective policies preceding World War 1 and 2. According to Frederic Bastiat, “When goods cannot cross borders, armies will.”

  70. It would also seem to me that the job of a number of government departments is to allow no precidents. On this occasion I speak as a former disability advocate – 6 months after the initial request and all required specialist recommendations in writing still nothing for this young high school lad. Formal complaints then followed via HREOC and AntiDiscrimination NSW. Another 6 months later the Dept of Education still refused to support this lad.

    And the recommendations? To be allowed to wear a hat in class and size 14 font for written material.

    All too difficult; the Dept would rather a human rights case than to supply the aforementioned assistance.

    The parents sold their house and moved to Qld.

  71. Thanks John, broadens things out a bit for me.

    “That they accept low-paying jobs from first world companies shows that the jobs they would have had otherwise are even worse.”

    Even if that’s true I find it a rather patronising rationalisation.
    I t seems to imply that it is perfectly reasonable for a first world company to exploit the poverty & cheap labour primarily to avoid paying the higher labour costs to “spoilt” workers in it’s presumably first world populations. How convenient for the bottom line.

    It would be much easier to see virtue in it if the first world company was to pay first world wages to third world workers rather than the insulting wages & conditions it can most easily get away with.
    I don’t often hear of a FTA where the “smaller partner” isn’t railroaded by the economic Titan.

  72. Sparta you might have been ‘discussing the economy’ but the rest of us on the thread in question were discussing the relationship between income tax rates and government tax revenue, a quite different topic which even now you appear incapable of grasping … and which has nothing whatsoever to do with immigration.

  73. BTW far from being a know-all Sparta I limit my comments to matters about which I do know something … a policy you might profitably consider adopting :D.

  74. Min

    “All too difficult; the Dept would rather a human rights case than to supply the aforementioned assistance.

    The parents sold their house and moved to Qld.”

    Disgraceful! Ignore, deny and cover up is the usual way of dealing with these issues MIn. Take bullying as a example.

    Ambulance chiefs lashed in suicide inquiry
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/ambulance-chiefs-lashed-in-suicide-inquiry/2008/10/20/1224351155141.html
    Natasha Wallace Health Reporter

    THE head of the ambulance service, Greg Rochford, has dealt so poorly with a culture of bullying and harassment that the State Government must urgently review his performance, says a disturbing report tabled in Parliament yesterday.

    Bullying concerns ‘fell on deaf ears’
    NATASHA WALLACE
    10/07/2008 10:00:01 AM
    http://nqr.farmonline.com.au/news/metro/national/general/bullying-concerns-fell-on-deaf-ears/808474.aspx
    AMBULANCE management had been “grossly negligent and dismissive” in handling complaints by a female officer about bullying at Cowra before she eventually committed suicide, her former supervisor has told a parliamentary inquiry.
    Royal North Shore bullying rife
    http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22532884-5001021,00.html
    Exclusive by Joe Hildebrand, Political Reporter

    October 05, 2007 12:00am

    CHRONIC bullying and harassment is rife throughout Royal North Shore Hospital, with staff terrified to speak out and the Nurses Association turning a blind eye to the crisis.

    National teacher-bullying crisis
    http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22844878-5001021,00.html
    By Bruce McDougall, Education Reporter

    November 30, 2007 12:00am

    MORE than 90 per cent of teachers say they have been bullied by colleagues.

    The teachers also claim they have been exposed to unmanageable workloads and have been ignored, frozen out or excluded from decision making

  75. Miglo, would you mind pointing out where I told John to get a job.

  76. Ken Lovell, on February 15th, 2009 at 9:46 am Said:

    “… I limit my comments to matters about which I do know something … a policy you might profitably consider adopting 😀

    Context does play an important role in keeping discussions relevant, I agree.

  77. Speaking of exploiting the less fortunate, this is in the same vein as a digital sweatshop, arguably worse…

    http://www.news.com.au/business/money/story/0,28323,25056894-5013951,00.html

  78. Stephan, on February 15th, 2009 at 9:49 am Said:

    Miglo, would you mind pointing out where I told John to get a job.

    Lol I think it was Davo who told me to get a job. I think you and I were working at understanding the words ‘impuissant’ and ‘inutile’. I found the word ‘impotent’ easier to understand. It was a good laugh playing with words.

    Migs is a good friend who’s understood my situation for some time.

  79. “Miglo, would you mind pointing out where I told John to get a job.”

    Stephan, I said that I thought it was you. My apologies for being incorrect. I hope that I have not caused you any embarassment.

    God knows you can do without it.

  80. Toiletboss, on February 15th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Getting closer to a bigger picture, inch-by-inch…Just to throw an absented idea into the mix. Thesis: Western lifestyles, and the wage rates which underpin them, are unsustainable and otherwise represent a global inequity in the division, transfer and use of finite resources, and the wealth so derived, among populations. Supporting argument: It’s not that $4 per hour is low, it’s that there are many people living on $2 or less per day, or $4 per day, or working for $2 per hour, or nothing at all in areas too impoverished to maintain a ‘welfare state’ for the unemployed; and, without having that larger systemic chat about the difference between wants and needs, and what the planet can sustain, and what human dignity, jobs decency and a living wage requires, the desiderata of the territorial recipients of advanced capitalism’s sustained extra-territorial exploitations, at home and abroad and in the global minarchist’s reprised Victorian-era wet-dream of pure contract and right-shoring, are inseparable from the appetitive aspects of capitalism itself, and to which to which a majority of haves subscribe, even from their positions as a self-appointed underclass unwilling to forego any of their doubleplus good wages and conditions procured thereby.

    Mental model: a reverse see-saw, as more of the numerically-greater have-nots re-weight the light end, bringing their wages up and their end down, the Western wages of the numerically-fewer haves must come down and their end goes up. From the particular people so to the nation-States involved. I don’t doubt that the present haves will fight for a protectionist stance within the entrenched system even as the have-nots continue to clamour for a seat on the see-saw, and thence to gain some purchase on the ground. I’m not sure, however, that the planet can sustain an ubiquitous middle class consisting of the admass deployment of Western-lite consumer sentiments. Has anyone done the budget for that? Organisations like the ILO, of course, will seek some rapprochement between workers’ interests here and there in that process, even as capital seeks to make ‘best’ use of those disparities, and as some from advanced economies find themselves capable and desirous of competing in a marketplace with those for whom $4 an hour is a small fortune, or the difference between life and death, and not an extra cup of coffee at Norma Jeans.

  81. Shorter Legion: as the physical location of the worker becomes less and less important thanks to IT, the labour market will become increasingly global and it will be impossible for any individual nation state to prop up its citizens’ incomes. There will be a global levelling, which will inevitably mean a steep RELATIVE decline in incomes for workers in developed countries.

    I think he’s correct, for what it’s worth, although it will happen over many years. Whether it causes an ABSOLUTE decline in incomes will depend on what happens to global production, which is why we should be doing everything we can to encourage economic growth in developing countries.

    The cliched plasma TV you buy from China with your stimulus handout may one day pay for an Australian teacher to run online classes in English for Chinese students. Which job is better for Australians: working on an assembly line or being an English teacher? I think the latter, which is why we should resist this instinctive temptation to insulate ourselves from the global economy (and that includes the free movement of labour into and out of nation states).

  82. Ken Lovell, on February 15th, 2009 at 11:35 am Said:

    I largely agree KenL and this will occur gradually, however, in the meantime I advocate the preservation of employee safety nets for wages and conditions.

    I think what we are now seeing and experiencing is part of the process needed for the evolution of world economies into the global economy.

    I also pointed out recently that ‘trade should replace aid’ in the long run and that will mean serious investment in developing countries.

    I’ve also come to the conclusion that many who advocate a free – market financial system (with it’s drive for excessive regulation and financial innovation – which often equate to a false economy of major proportions as we are now seeing) overlook the benefits of free-trade. In fact, it wouldn’t I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them confuse both concepts.

  83. John I agree that safety nets are worthwhile and ought to be preserved but we also have to face up to the issue of enforcement. We know that hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of workers are employed in breach of the awards or EBAs or whatever that technically set their minimum standards. As Tony and others have pointed out, this is often something that workers freely consent to; sometimes they don’t realise it’s happening; often they feel coerced and unable to do anything about it.

    So if the workers directly affected aren’t going to take any action, are we prepared to fund a large industrial inspectorate (I’m talking about thousands of people, not the risible handful we have now) and see thousands of employers prosecuted? If not, the practical impact of safety nets will remain limited.

    Of course the best way to enforce safety nets is the presence of a large, activist trade union movement. Oh god, now I’ve gone and got you-know-who into the thread.

  84. KenL

    “Of course the best way to enforce safety nets is the presence of a large, activist trade union movement. Oh god, now I’ve gone and got you-know-who into the thread.”

    Lol. I’ve always believed unions have an important role to play and quite frankly, at the moment I think Australian unions seemed to have largely abandoned this role in favour of trying of play politics.

    NSW is a good example, where John Robertson has moved quickly and easily into the State Goverment from the position of Secretary of UNIONS NSW as did Michael Costa.

  85. stuff Chubb John, they were never the best just the greediest. The amount of workers they replaced with cheaper workers who have no clue how to secure or make there presence shown but are proud of the uniform. i worked my way up to manager of 88 securty,
    Btp security and mss. If you ever wont to get back in that field i have so many contacts in sydney i could get you an interveiw for the position. John your a brave man and i wish you the best in recovery.

  86. John McP:

    Here’s a Judgment of the NSW Supreme Court you might find interesting.

    It’s a pre-2002 Amendments Common Law action brought by a Mr Naidu against Group 4 Securitas, his employer, arising out of some extraordinary bullying and harassment at work.

    I say extraordinary, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse example of workplace bullying.

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/nsw/NSWSC/2005/618.html?query=title(Naidu%20v%20Group%204)

    This is the sort of action a Plaintiff used to be able to bring for redress before Mr Della Bosca and his cronies rigged the system in favour of Insurers.

  87. Evan, surely you recall the Ipp Report. Please give credit where credit is due for instigation of the race-to-the-bottom erosion of common law obligations in torts to…John Winston Howard, again.

  88. Legion,

    Yep. Ol’ John Winston played his part, but it was Della who sold this particular pup to the NSW public.

    You gotta wonder.

    Bob Carr retired to a nice consultancy at Macquarie Bank. Wonder what’s in store for Della when the music stops and the voters finally give his Government the heave-ho?

    He could stay at home with that chick who monsters restaurant staff and keeps photos of her enemies in the freezer I suppose, or maybe he could do something with his life.

    A place on the Board at Allianz or CGU perhaps?

    He’s earned it. I can’t think of anyone whose done more for their collective bottom lines over the last few years.

  89. Of course the best way to enforce safety nets is the presence of a large, activist trade union movement. Oh god, now I’ve gone and got you-know-who into the thread.

    Which is why shonky employers and big business shriek hysterically unions=BOO!, unions = communism, unions = thugs every chance they get. They paint unions to be the big bad bogeymen whilst they profiteer shamelessly from the union’s absence.

    So if the workers directly affected aren’t going to take any action, are we prepared to fund a large industrial inspectorate (I’m talking about thousands of people, not the risible handful we have now) and see thousands of employers prosecuted? If not, the practical impact of safety nets will remain limited.

    Yes, I’d like to see my taxes go towards it.
    Why have legislation if it doesn’t get enforced and the perpetrators don’t have to make recompense or get punished. Meanwhile, someone’s thrown in jail for stealing a chocolate bar.

  90. Back tracking to Tom R, on February 14th, 2009 at 11:18 am Said: And I applied for a two week stint in a Toolroom, but refused again as this cheapskate was offering $22/hour.

    Hubby (fitter and turner/instrument fitter) says that this is about normal for a toolroom in Brisbane but in Sydney and Melbourne pay is a little higher.

  91. Thanks for the invitation Ken & John.

    The public service is probably unlikely to rip off workers to the tune of paying them $4 or $5 an hour. Though that would be the pay rate if productivity were any particular criteria. The worst the public service do is pay a clerk class 17 at the class 16 rate.

    It is always the grubby profit motivated that underpays and ignores awards and standards, and this is the sector that is 14% unionised. Though as that includes manufacturing, construction etc, I wonder whether Ken has some data on unionisation among telemarketers, domestic cleaners, waiters…

    I suspect that there is a fair way to go, before unionism takes off in these sectors.

    I’m looking forward to the first march by the Amalgamated Meat Servers and Waiters Union.

    WADDAWEWAN???!!!
    BIGGER TIPS FOR ORDINARY SERVICE.
    etc

    I note that Qantas flights were severely disrupted over the weekend, by some union activity. I’m sure we are all looking forward to the day that unions are pretty well able t please themselves about whether businesses like Qantas operate.

    Cheers,

    Tom of Melbourne

  92. Evan

    “It’s a pre-2002 Amendments Common Law action brought by a Mr Naidu against Group 4 Securitas, his employer, arising out of some extraordinary bullying and harassment at work.

    I say extraordinary, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse example of workplace bullying.”

    Know this case quite well, and the other party responsible for paying damages? News Ltd, because Naidu’s employer , Group 4 Securitas, was a sub-contractor.

  93. aquanut,

    Thanks champ. Hoping that we reach a resolution very soon despite limits to the laws. They’ve failed in their obligations for five years and a review of my case is underway. Fingers crossed, but I also have one avenue left if they continue with their shenanigans.

  94. What gets me John is how valueble you would of been before this crap to them, hence your position, Then it hits the fan and your an enemy of the company.

    Makes me sick how recycling employees when they are the very people that keep the company honest and working well.

  95. This is why i no longer have a boss.
    My actions cant be judged underwater
    if i stuff up its me who gets hurt

    John i really would like to add, i might have moved on and your stronger for taking them on. onya buddy

  96. Aqua

    Take this case as an example of how some employers stretch the bounds of employer/ employee relations.

    Sacked over canine custody row
    http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25055461-5001021,00.html
    By Sharon Labi

    February 15, 2009 12:00am

    ANGELA Smith was so devoted to her job that when her boss asked her to take his dog for lunchtime custody visits to his ex she dutifully obliged.

    But when she left Jordy the kelpie-cross with the ex for an overnight stay she was sacked on the spot, ending 17 years of employment.

    The tug-of-love dog has now left Paddington osteopath Ross Partington facing a damages payout after the Industrial Relations Commission ruled Ms Smith had been unfairly dismissed.

    The commission heard Mr Partington and his former partner, Deborah Limb, purchased the dog in 1996 but, after the couple’s acrimonious split, Ms Limb occasionally sought access to Jordy.

    By March, 2008, the arrangement involved Mr Partington bringing Jordy to his eastern suburbs clinic and having Ms Smith take the dog to Ms Limb at lunch.

    “The relationship between Mr Partington and Ms Limb remained strained and the visitation rights for Ms Limb to see Jordy were specifically not extended to allow for any overnight stay or further contact between Ms Limb and Jordy outside of the lunchtime meetings,” the commission’s judgment said.

    During a lunch visit on July 29 last year, Ms Limb told Ms Smith she had a solicitor’s letter permitting her an overnight stay with Jordy and Ms Smith left the dog with her.

    Mr Partington feared his ex had abducted Jordy and felt betrayed by Ms Smith, ordering her to leave the clinic immediately, the commission heard.

    The commission said it was disturbing that Mr Partington rejected an offer by Ms Limb to train other staff, because it may have prevented the case ever reaching the commission.

    Mr Partington’s defence team tried to argue that it was a “heat-of-the-moment dismissal” but the commission rejected it.

    “This case has involved very sad circumstances of the destruction of a 17-year employment history,” the judgment said.

    The commissioners added Mr Partington should have taken care to distinguish personal and private matters from those relating to the work relationship.

    It is understood a formal shared custody arrangement is now in place for the dog.

    Legal-aid solicitor Linda Tucker said it was one of the more colourful cases she had worked on.

    “It was an eye-catching case. It’s one of those cases when you just say in one line, she got sacked when she gave the dog to the ex … it makes people sit up and take notice,” Ms Tucker said.

    “I thought the commissioner dealt with it in a really compassionate way. In small businesses, people tend to immerse themselves much more in it, employees as well as employers. When the relationship’s ripped up, there’s real trauma involved … and all over a bloody kelpie.”

    Ms Smith will be awarded damages at a later date.

  97. Well what stands out John is the fact this bloke needs a mediator to have his dog dropped off which means he is not allowed contact if so he is being neglectfull of his duties(personal)

    poor dog has to live with him at least she got let off…

    sad sad dedicated people are often let go for fear of high payouts after a period of emplyment. This man should never lead a company but follow instruction from one who does.

  98. John..kelpies are important. Min_kelpie.

    But on John’s topic of trivia. I was once hauled into work on my day off to explain why the nougat bar was missing from the motel room in Morwell. Blush..I ate it.

  99. Then theres those who look down at people with a self inportance and a need to lift there own sprit up by lowering others and making something out of nothing.

    people who bring out the best in others in work or in life are often the best to look up too. they also bring out the best in yourself.

  100. Min, on February 15th, 2009 at 7:13 pm Said:

    John..kelpies are important. Min_kelpie.

    But on John’s topic of trivia. I was once hauled into work on my day off to explain why the nougat bar was missing from the motel room in Morwell. Blush..I ate it.”

    And it was this action that led to the bankruptcy of this motel, I bet (lol)

  101. No John somebody didnt have a bar that night.

  102. Aqua

    “Then theres those who look down at people with a self inportance and a need to lift there own sprit up by lowering others and making something out of nothing.

    people who bring out the best in others in work or in life are often the best to look up too. they also bring out the best in yourself.”

    There are some really good managers out there and frankly I enjoyed being a manager myself. In fact, I proved to myself and others that a thoughtful approach to managing people reflects in the financials. In fact, my move into the role of national labour analyst came because of my ability to manage people effectively and efficiently.

  103. John, this nougat bar did indeed lead to the bankruptcy of Marvin/Lilydale Poultry. Or at least I was lead to believe so. However, I now note Lilydale Poultry is still in the shops and so it seems that they were able to recover.

  104. Thats true John, I also learn that diffrenet age groups you manage gets difficult as they all find a diffrent need. (pay rise, time off). I often thought of the employee as the same as what the boss looked at profit. The boss will be a king or dud depending on how he wants to treat others.

    Is it just me or do i notice when people get jobs these days there not looking at long term. No one feels that needed anymore, like treading on glass to make no mistakes.

  105. Min

    It shows just how fragile some businesses (like the global financial system can be). Did you know that the flow on effect of that one nougat bar not only sent Marvin/Lilydale Poultry financial position into a tailspin, it also, though in more mysterious ways led to the proliferation of bad debts in the US (lol).

    So it was you who started this crisis!

  106. Aqua

    “Is it just me or do i notice when people get jobs these days there not looking at long term. No one feels that needed anymore, like treading on glass to make no mistakes.”

    When the overwhelming drive of many businesses is ‘bottom line profits’ the more important values, we often espouse in our own homes to our children end up being left at the gate/front doors of our workplaces.

    Social commentator Hugh MacKay points the overriding fact that “business is about satisfying customers’ needs, not exploiting them. It’s also about providing gainful employment for people, not exploiting them, either. Yet business activity is often characterised as being so ruthless, so competitive, so driven by single – minded self-interest that it does end up creating situations where the strong can and do exploit the weak”

  107. Min, on February 15th, 2009 at 5:15 pm Said:

    That would be a price for a permanent full time employee I would guess Min, this was a two week stint, basically, a contract position.

    I have been out of the game for a while, but we were approaching that pay rate as fulltime employees back then.

    I would have ‘assumed’ they have gone up by now.

    Could be wrong though.

  108. Thankyou VERY much to the great comments from JMcP, Legion, Kennel etc.
    You’ve filled in a few gaps for me.

    “Mental model: a reverse see-saw, as more of the numerically-greater have-nots re-weight the light end, bringing their wages up and their end down, the Western wages of the numerically-fewer haves must come down and their end goes up”Legion

    That is very close to what I suspected, we are living beyond balanced means here.
    It does seem obvious that things must move towards an equilibrium of sorts & that itself is likely to bite hard on our opulence over time.
    If we can imagine & infer this eventuality on this blog it stands to reason that it is a well known inevitability among our decision makers at “The Top”. What irks me is that this is given no public ear considering the future gravity of it.
    Honesty, blunt & ungilded, is as always too much to expect I suppose.
    Let’s face it, if “they” were to lay it all out in a concise & understandable fashion for the general population…ie. well we must “globalise” but eventually you (the pampered Western workers) are gonna be brought down many a peg to be more in line with what is sustainable in the long term across the world…I doubt that it would be received with much enthusiasm by the (relatively) greedy many in our part of the world.

    I am a production worker for a very large US manufacturer in Australia & I’m obscenely well paid for what I do & the luxurious conditions that I labour under (Thanks CFMEU). This worries me because it simply cannot last, I realise that, but as I look around me so many of my peers are blissfully ignorant & there is naught to be done to halt what is essentially going to be global attrition of high standards of living.
    That said I harbour no animosity to those trying to claw their way out of the gutter in the developing world.
    As a race we are selfish f@cks, stupid is as human does.

    An aside…
    Particularly glad that you’re not just lurking & are still commenting Legion. Your musings often add another strata to my thinking & I appreciate the paths you highlight.
    Humble apologies if I was a part of the “framing” as I never intended it to be so.

  109. More absolutely brilliant comments and feedback this weekend. Thanks everyone.

  110. Hi TomR. Jeff hasn’t had a permanent job for over 20 years, that is all contract work. Toolrooms just don’t pay, however agreed lousy for a 2 week stint. I should imagine that they were hoping for someone who was having a down-time (due to many jobs not restarting until February/March) and any pay would be good enough. If you’re looking for better $s then the way to go is remote location and fly in/fly out.

  111. And thank you John, it’s been an excellent and informative read.

  112. Thanks Min. Got a new post up that I’m sure you’ll find interesting “Bullying so bad bullied students turn to guns” Some very disturbing facts about bullying in OZ

  113. Thanks for the feedback Min

    Wow, if that is what they are offering for contract now, no wonder they are complaining about a lack of skilled tradies.

    I did know that Toolmakers were now one of th lowest paid trades. When I got into it, they were one of the highest. This is the main reason I got out. And I am very hesitant to get back in.

    But then again, after reading Toiletboss and his astute observation about greed, I realise this is exactly what I am practising. Yet I still find it hard to get myself to apply for this job??

    And I am in no real position to be picky. But I would rather deliver papers than be paid what this guy is offering. 😦

    But I had still applied for the IT job at $35/hour, probably because it will further me.

  114. TomR. I don’t think that there is much around at the moment but if you would like to write to me at min underscore kelpie at yahoo dot com dot au I’ll ask hubby if there is anything on the go. Anything will be onsite.

    It’s been the same for eons, there are no permanent jobs in the metal trades that pay thruppence.

  115. “as the physical location of the worker becomes less and less important thanks to IT, the labour market will become increasingly global and it will be impossible for any individual nation state to prop up its citizens’ incomes. There will be a global levelling, which will inevitably mean a steep RELATIVE decline in incomes for workers in developed countries.”

    Ken, you are spot on here…I was just thinking about the understandable gripes about out-sourcing jobs to workers in other nations…& how some politicians have fed into this debate by sounding somewhat protectionist, yet you see a decidedly different approach when they’re in government. I do worry that a massive swing towards “protectionism” could exacerbate problems…but it’s difficult to justify bringing in skilled workers when locals w/ the same skills are desperate for work during economic contractions (I’m thinking the recent British pipeline dispute here). However, I see it as a bogus, yet predictably sh*t stirring approach by the Australian opposition to raise concerns about Pacific Islanders doing piecework on Australian farms. As someone who spent up to a year on various properties across the world picking fruit & veges I can attest to the problems some farms have getting responsible workers during harvest time…& the majority tend to be backpackers, illegal aliens & the farmers’ relies. Most citizens wouldn’t be caught dead working their arses off for such paltry wages.

    The levelling out of wages across the world will sure create a quandary for the “consumer society” & the profiteers that depend on goods being made for sh*t wages. Don’t they create wars/conflicts (Vietnam, Iraq) & knock off Unionists (think Mexico) to ensure that the “levelling effect” does not succeed…:(

    N’

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