Went to buy my Easter Eggs at Darryl Lea today, and as I stood in line I was given a media release outlining that their workers were being forced onto Australian Working Agreements (see Darrell Lea offering undercut AWAs, Labor says). Particularly interested in Joe Hockey’s comment on “why isn’t it okay for individuals to negotiate their own employment outcome?” – funnily enough, in my line of employment I’ve been able to do that since entering the office “workforce” 11 years ago.
The point of the Harvester Judgment, that AWAs have effectively abolished, was to ensure that your average worker had enough dosh for a decent standard of living for his family. But apparently no, screwing down wages and hours come the next recession is in “the interests of the workers” according to Joe …
Of course, this is just another plank of our current Government’s rollback of society to the master and servant relationships of the 1890’s, with any objectors “opposing flexibility” and the end result, even more of a corporatist society. Anyone who can’t keep up demonised as weak, lazy and deserving of unending harassment from A Current Affair.
Getting angry on the topic is always easy, putting your case together coherently can take a bit more work. Luckily though, I’m reading a John Ralston Saul work at the moment on how Canada’s harmonious society was built. This sums it up for me:
“Three elements – public education, government intervention in both social and economic structures, and transfer payments [between regions] – allowed us to build prosperity on the foundations of systemic poverty. A number of other countries existing on the margins – the Scandinavians are the most common example – went down not dissimilar routes. And it was on the basis of the social equilibrium created by these policies that the business sector was able to blossom.
This is the principal difficulty which Canada has with the sweeping absolute economic truths we have imported and accepted over the last decade. In order for market forces t be accepted as the great leader, all physical realities must be taken to be the same. The only variables relate to becoming competitive and specialized. But this is an astonishingly abstract theory. In fact, delusion would be a better word than theory. All physical realities are not the same, nor can they respond to circumstances in the same way. The new truth tries to obscure this stubborn reality by assigning blame to those who can’t keep up. Indeed, the whole theory of a single economic model for all circumstances isn’t even good capitalist theory. It is essentially a derivative of a very old-fashioned turn-of-the-century management methodology in which content is treated as interchangeable filler for the ideal management form.”
Hear, hear. For a practical example of where it’s all going, have a read of Polly Toynbee’s piece on British Airways and Gate Gourmet.