Forward with Fairness: A Fair Go for Working Families

Future ALP politicians and current trade union officials are reportedly “furious” at former trade union officials and current ALP politicians for doing what pundits have expected: introducing “business-friendly” industrial relations laws. “Furious” trade union leaders are widely tipped to remain furious for some time, before becoming “angry”, “upset”, “bitter”, and then merely “resigned”.

The broad structure of the coal-powered fluorescent bulb on the hill was explained by Gillard in her speech to The National Press Club on Wednesday titled ‘Introducing Australia’s New Workplace Relations System’. Gillard also took this opportunity to burn her bra black armband, declaring in her opening remarks that “The signature values of nations are often defined by the circumstances of their birth… And for us there’s one value above all others that we identify with as truly our own. It’s the value that emerged out of the circumstances of Federation, which coincided with the industrial turbulence of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That value is fairness. Or as we like to put it: ‘the fair go’.”

Which is all rather odd, especially given that — as angry White men across the country know — one of the first Acts of Federal Parliament was the Immigration Restriction Act. This Act (together with the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901) formed the legal cornerstone of the White Australia policy; the Conciliation and Arbitration Act — which in Labor Party mythology has ensured a ‘fair go’ for ‘working families’ for the bulk of the country’s history — was only assented to by Edward VII in 1904. Further, while 100 years ago the Gub’mint couldn’t get rid of the Pacific Islanders quick enough, they now wanna import them — albeit if only for a coupla years…

“SMALL business operators will be in a position to sack workers after giving them just one verbal warning and complying with a short check-list, under new business-friendly employment rules to be introduced by the Rudd Government” reckons Ben Schneiders. “The rules would allow small business to get on with running their operations, making a profit and giving people jobs, Ms Gillard said” (Union fury at Gillard’s IR changes, Ben Schneiders, The Age, September 18, 2008). A former factory worker lawyer, Gillard is not only a partisan of the petit-bourgeoisie, she’s also — as Bill Heffernan helpfully pointed out — shamelessly childless.

Where does that leave working families Ms Gillard?

Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary (and former fan of Chairman Miaow) Brian Boyd attacked the unfair-dismissal rules and said workers in smaller enterprises deserved equal treatment, and were crying out for working class discipline. “Most workers in Australia are employed by small employers. We are talking about the majority of workers,” Mr Boyd said. “They deserve equal rights. And to be disciplined.”

Industrial action

An important feature of the new legislation will be tough rules on industrial action.

Our new laws will distinguish between good industrial action which may legitimately occur during the bargaining and bad industrial action taken outside of bargaining.

Good industrial action will be allowed in the course of bargaining, in accordance with strict rules, including a secret ballot of employees and three days’ notice of intention to take the action.

But bad industrial action will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Even short unplanned stop work actions can have devastating effects on employers with time-critical processes. For this reason, employees who engage in “wild-cat” snap strikes or bans instead of following proper dispute resolution processes will face significant consequences.

Employees will face a mandatory minimum deduction of four hours’ pay for any incident of bad industrial action and it will be unlawful to pay or demand to be paid for this period.

In the case of good industrial action, our system will provide proportional, sensible and workable options for employers to respond.

Employers will not be permitted to pay strike pay, as is the case at present. If an employee stops work and the action is good, their pay must be deducted, but only for the actual period of time the employee stopped work, not for any mandatory minimum period – as under Work Choices. It will still be unlawful to claim or pay strike pay.

But in the case of partial work bans, employers will be able to use their discretion to either: tolerate the bans; stand down or lock out employees; or issue a ‘partial work notice’ and make deductions proportional to any work not performed. Fair Work Australia will be able to review whether the amount deducted is proportional if required.

As the ultimate response to industrial action, employers will be able to lock out employees. But offensive, pre-emptive lockouts – taken by the employer when employees haven’t taken any industrial action – will no longer be permitted.

Labor said in Forward with Fairness that we’d return the emphasis to enterprise-level collective bargaining whilst keeping clear, tough rules for industrial action; and we have…

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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4 Responses to Forward with Fairness: A Fair Go for Working Families

  1. Full-wit Mick says:

    In all seriousness, how would you understand the needs of working families? As an anarchist, your main object is to retain the working class status [of] poor working families. These are facts pointed out by your opposition to middle income earners… hey, it benefits the workers if you allow them to receive a pay rise, doesn’t it?

  2. @ndy says:

    G’day Full-wit Mick,

    1) As an anarchist my intent is not to “retain the working class status [of] poor working families”, but to abolish class society.

    2) “These are facts pointed out by your opposition to middle income earners…”. What opposition? I don’t understand.

    3) “It benefits the workers if you allow them to receive a pay rise, doesn’t it?” I’m not in any position to either confirm or deny pay rises. If workers do recieve a wage or salary increase, generally speaking, I think that’s a good thing.

    I don’t think you understand where I’m coming from or what I, as an anarchist, actually believe.

  3. Full-wit Mick says:
      1) As an anarchist my intent is not to “retain the working class status [of] poor working families”, but to abolish class society.

    Abolition of class society is neither achievable – nor progressive. The presence of class defines:

    * personal or household per capita income or wealth / net worth, including the ownership of land, property, means of production, etc.
    * occupation
    * education and qualifications
    * family background

    If we look at personal income, enforcing an equal pay structure will lead to failure, as it would remove any reason for someone to study long and hard enough to be employed in higher paid positions. For example: Doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. The human race is known for machiavellianism, no matter if you’re a worker – or a politician, we all only wish to assist ourselves. Also, I suppose having a sense of class can lead to improvement of lifestyle. Children [from] a lower [socio-economic] background won’t have the opportunities that would exist if their parents were richer. You see, there are benefits from a class system… just as well – negatives.

    In a matter of [sic] speaking, anarchists have never fought for the “working man”. From what I gather, the anarchists of today are no more than thugs looking to cause grief. Let’s take a look at a few instances where anarchists have rioted:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EOolbDDvvI

    Now, how are they meant to achieve solidarity amongst the class by fighting their own camaraderie [sic]?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc2TXK2Ia2o

    …now what would be the possibility of a molotov striking a kid – or an innocent bystander?

    http://shiftshapers.gnn.tv/blogs/10531/Greek_Anarchists_Attack_French_Schools_Back_Rioters

    “They just appeared out of nowhere, I think about 70 or 80 of them. They smashed everything and we just sat there terrified,” one student told reporters.

    Poor French suburbs have been hit by two weeks of rioting. French police have arrested hundreds of people in what is considered the most serious unrest since student-led protests in 1968.”

    I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how rioting in a poor suburb is going to fix things. [As a] matter of fact, it would more th[a]n likely suppress [sic] the poor through damage [to] property.

  4. @ndy says:

    1)

    We obviously disagree: I regard the abolition of class society as being both possible and desirable. Quoting Wikipedia is fine, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect my understanding of class or explain anarchist perspectives on same. “The presence of class defines” is a nonsensical proposition; leave Wikipedia as it is:

    In societies where classes exist, one’s class is determined largely by:

    * personal or household per capita income or wealth / net worth, including the ownership of land, property, means of production, etc.
    * occupation
    * education and qualifications
    * family background

    This is a sociological definition of class: there are others, more relevant to my own social critique, which examine other factors, especially class relations.

    2)

    “If we look at personal income, enforcing an equal pay structure will lead to failure, as it would remove any reason for someone to study long and hard enough to be employed in higher paid positions. For example: Doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. The human race is known for machiavellianism, no matter if you’re a worker – or a politician, we all only wish to assist ourselves.”

    First, I’ve said nothing about ‘equal pay structures’, nor do I define a classless society in these terms. Secondly, the acquisition of expert knowledge, such as concerns medicine, has a number of motivations. In other words, in contemporary Australian society, while the possibility of enjoying a potentially much-higher than average income may be one motivating factor for many students of medicine, it’s not necessarily the only or most important one. Thirdly, my concern is not just with present-day circumstances or social structures, but how good health and health care might be provided in a radically different kind of society and world: a classless, non-hierarchical one. That is, I imagine a world in which the world of labour — including knowledge production — is radically transformed from being, to the extent that it presently is, an adjunct to financial success and economic security, to one which is broadly available to all. Fourthly, many, if not all, of the most brilliant scientists are motivated less by avarice than they are genuine curiosity about the world and understanding their (and our) place in it. There’s a very good argument, in fact, that scientific enquiry is often perverted, rather than facilitated, by commercial imperatives, and many critics, few of whom are anarchists or revolutionaries, have written quite a lot on this subject. Finally, the human race is known for all sorts of things, but ‘Machiavellianism’ is generally understood as being one of the less desirable traits of the political class / elites.

    3)

    Yes. A video which apparently shows a clash — mostly flag-waving — between supposed members of a Greek Communist Party and some anarchists in Thessaloniki. You apparently think this is significant. I don’t.

    The second video is apparently footage of Greek anarchists rioting, although there is no date, time, place or any other supplementary information provided. Again, so what? Regarding the possibility of some third party being injured, I don’t know, but based on the video footage, it would appear to be extremely limited. The clash takes place at night, and aside from police and anarchists, there doesn’t appear to be anyone else present. It’s also the case that such clashes take place reasonably regularly in Athens and Thessaloniki, and most of these in areas of the cities in which there are a high concentration of anarchists and, from what I understand, reasonably supportive communities.

    Finally *sigh* a Reuters report dated November 2005, regarding an attack upon the French Institute in Thessaloniki. According to the report, some windows were smashed, a slogan spray-painted, and a student states that as a result s/he and his/her classmates were terrified (but otherwise uninjured).

    And?

    The riots in France are another matter entirely. That you don’t understand them — or have any real concept of what happened, when, how, or why — is not exactly surprising: you understand very little.

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