Home > Economics - General > IR reform and inequality

IR reform and inequality

November 2nd, 2005

It looks as if the IR legislation will be passed through the Parliament while we are all changing the channel to get away from the barrage of ads supporting it, so I suppose I’d better comment now, before taking the time to wade through the 600 pages of simplification the government is giving us. I’m mainly concerned with the likely impact on inequality

Taking the central elements of the legislation separately, it’s possible to make a case in regard to any one of them that the effect on inequality will be modest, or even favourable. It can be pointed out, for example, that many minimum wage earners are in high-income households, so a lower minimum wage won’t be so bad. And making it easier to sack people ought to promote more hiring as well as more firing, which should be good for those who are now unemployed.

These arguments are plausible, but not clear-cut. On the other hand, when we look at the macro evidence, we get very clear evidence pointing the other way. Wherever reforms like this have been introduced, notably the UK and NZ, inequality has increased drastically on almost all dimensions (capital vs labour, variance in wages, wage premiums of all kind, unequal allocation of work). In the US, where these institutions have been entrenched for a long time, inequality is higher than in any other developed country and getting rapidly worse.

It may not be clear which piece of the reform package is doing the work, but the aggregate outcome can be predicted with safety.

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  1. Patrick
    November 4th, 2005 at 15:06 | #1

    SOrry, Katz, but did you read the page? COunt the number of times they mention manufacturing. And what is left is almost exclusively highly elaborated products now. Car factories? Eastern Europe. Textiles? China and North Africa. Etc.

    My point was, however, too broadly phrased. I’ll restate: ‘for the purposes of young lowskilled workers, there are diddly-scott jobs in France because it is only worth building capital-intensive and labour minimal goods in France because of labour market rigidities.’

  2. UQ Student
    November 4th, 2005 at 15:43 | #2

    “In an employment market which sits at 95% employment, are you seriously suggesting that employers will busily set themselves the task of sacking staff? Who will they replace their staff with? Even the ‘surplus pool of labour’ concept doesn’t apply.”

    The 95% includes people working one hour a week and doesn’t include the people not in paid work who are not actively looking for work. You’re right that when employment is very high bosses have less incentive to sack workers for industrial action. My point was about whether they ought to have the right to do this, whether it was in their interests or not. One productive worker produces 2 widgets an hour, a less productive one produces 1 widget and I’m asking of the 3 widgets how many are produced by the factory owner. Of course the factory owner makes a contribution, but it is not a 3/3 widget one, and I don’t think that he or she should be able to exercise absolute power in the workplace for this reason.

  3. Patrick
    November 4th, 2005 at 15:50 | #3

    … and he doesn’t, for that reason, nor ever will, for that reason. Since you are apparently happy with that, can you shut up about the current IR changes now?

  4. Dogz
    November 4th, 2005 at 15:58 | #4

    He or she does not exercise absolute workplace power. And won’t under the new legislation. It’s the 21st century dude.

  5. Katz
    November 4th, 2005 at 16:22 | #5

    “He or she does not exercise absolute workplace power. And won’t under the new legislation. It’s the 21st century dude.”

    But Dogz, while I agree with your general point about the actual locus of workplace power, I’m interested in the baggage that you pack into the term “21st century”.

    I take this term to mean that unlike in previous epochs, all individuals and groups have a much more accurate and self-conscious understanding of their own best interests. This being the case, all parties are no longer in need of extraneous interference of outside groups, such as unions, IRCs, governments, etc., in order to achieve a manageable and sustainable contract.

    That being the case, how is it consistent with the fact that the new IR legislation is stepping between contracting parties to tell them

    1. How they can negotiate, i.e., a prohibition on patterned agreements.

    2. What they can negotiate about, i.e., certain mutually agreeable components of a contract have been declared illegal and subject to fines.

    What sort of a 21st century is this?

    Looks more like the 19th century to me, when anti-combination laws shackled the scope and independence of collective action of workers.

  6. Dogz
    November 4th, 2005 at 16:48 | #6

    I take this term to mean that unlike in previous epochs, all individuals and groups have a much more accurate and self-conscious understanding of their own best interests.

    While that is certainly true, it is not what I had in mind when referring to the “21st century”.

    In the 21st century in Australia we have unemployment benefits, family tax benefits, subsidized childcare, maternity payments, rent relief, universal healthcare, public education, etc etc. That’s independent of any job you may have. In terms of work environment, we have 38 hour working weeks (averaged), annual leave, carers leave, maternity leave, bereavement leave, paternity leave, occupational health and safety, compulsory workers compensation, antidiscrimination laws, equal opportunity laws, etc etc.

    How does an employer exercise absolute power against that backdrop?

    The darkest moments of 19th century industrial worker exploitation occured against a backdrop in which workers had _nothing_ without their jobs. So yeah, in that case when _everything_ you have comes from your employer, he can exercise absolute power over you. But today? No way.

    It’s the 21st century dude.

  7. Katz
    November 4th, 2005 at 16:55 | #7

    You’ve skated right past my major point. (Didn’t think enlightened 21st century dudes would continue to be sooo 20th-century. But enough of badinage.)

    Major point alert:

    Why should the State take on a coercive role in negotiations between individuals and groups who have a clear view of their own interests, and who may sit down and arrive at mutually agreeable arrangements? (For elaboration, see above.)

    To make the major point crystal clear:

    This is exactly what Howard’s IR laws aim to do.

    To ram home the point:

    Howard is acting 19th-century dude.

  8. UQ Student
    November 4th, 2005 at 17:07 | #8

    Has anyone here read an AWA contract? I read my housemate’s one time. I loved the bit in the contract where it says “nothing in this contract should imply that Party A (the worker) is an employee of Party B (the company)” They are an employee, but not. They are actually an “independant contractor”. And nothing resembling annual leave, carers leave, maternity leave, bereavement leave, paternity leave, occupational health and safety, compulsory workers compensation, antidiscrimination laws, equal opportunity laws, etc etc comes into the equation.

  9. Katz
    November 4th, 2005 at 17:12 | #9

    You’re right UQ. The Rodent is performing a bit of lexicographical legerdemain to define employees ourt of existence.

    It’s all fantasy of course, because employees don’t want to be defined out of existence, and they have the muscle to back up their preferences.

    Trouble is that they’ve forgotten that they have that muscle.

    The Rodent has inadvertently reminded them of their inherent power.

    Silly old Rodent dude.

  10. Dogz
    November 4th, 2005 at 17:21 | #10

    I didn’t skate past your major point – you made an assumption of what I meant by “21st century” and I corrected the assumption.

    As for your major point: I want to look at the legislation itself to see exactly what is prohibited before I comment.

  11. Dogz
    November 4th, 2005 at 17:34 | #11

    UQ Student,

    unless the AWA has been drastically watered down because it is in the “public interest” to do so, it must pass the “no disadvantage test” with respect to the applicable award, which no doubt includes annual leave, carers leave, maternity leave, bereavement leave, paternity leave, etc.

    Occupational health and safety, compulsory workers compensation, antidiscrimination laws, equal opportunity laws, etc etc are just the law – they don’t need to be written into the AWA.

    As I understand it, the “no disadvantage test” is being replaced in the new legislation by specific minimum provisions covering annual leave, carers leave, maternity leave, bereavement leave, paternity leave, etc.

    What are you studying at UQ? From your posts so far I hope for your sake it’s not economics or law.

  12. Michael Mullin
    November 4th, 2005 at 18:25 | #12

    “Occupational health and safety, compulsory workers compensation, antidiscrimination laws, equal opportunity laws, etc etc are just the law”

    Didn’t I hear that character from ACCI a week or so ago, say that all regulations affecting the workplace should be looked at, including OHS?

  13. Jill Rush
    November 4th, 2005 at 19:36 | #13

    Dogz reminds me of the ads on tv promising me a Brave New World. Time is worth a decent wage – a fair pay for a fair day’s work This legislation makes it unfair on most and great for a few. The bullies are in charge.

  14. Ros
    November 4th, 2005 at 19:58 | #14

    UQ student, are you sure it was an AWA.

    “The Employment Advocate or delegate needs to be satisfied that an employee has genuinely consented to making their AWA.”

    The term used is employee. You say that the contract said

    “nothing in this contract should imply that Party A (the worker) is an employee of Party B (the company)â€?

    And if he was an employee then he would be covered by the employer’s work cover. If he was a contractor he might have to take out his own cover, depending on what arrangements the employer made.

    And this is under the current law. Drongo employer perhaps, or did he not understand the nature of his relationship with the “employer” Did he want to be an independent contractor. It sounds like he was not offering his services through an agency, or they would be providing the advice and cover where needed. Again a drongo employer who exists whenever whatever.

    And of course the fact that he was possibly an independent contractor doesn’t mean that EO laws for example are somehow not applicable to this person.

  15. Dogz
    November 4th, 2005 at 20:20 | #15

    Jill Rush – based on limited information you jumped to an incorrect conclusion regarding my attitude towards women. What make you so sure you’re not doing the same with respect to the new IR laws?

  16. Jill Rush
    November 4th, 2005 at 22:10 | #16

    Experience, education, intelligence and an understanding of human nature are the reasons I know what’s happening Dogz. As for your attitude to women the new legislation will hurt women and girls the most as they are already paid at lower rates and this system is not devised with women in mind except as economic units.

    A con is a con – if the legislation was going to benefit Australian families, rather than tranfer wealth away from working people, it would have been released months ago, been subjected to a proper parliamentary scrutiny, not been blurred by an imminent terrorist threat, not be so long that only lawyers will understand it, been included as part of the election platform of the Liberal Coalition at the last election, and not needed $50 million+ from taxpayers spent on advertising as it would have sold itself.

    When the Prime Minister said that the Australian People were relaxed and comfortable he forgot to add – “but don’t get used to it”. He will go down as a Prime Minister who made Australians complicit in an illegal war and then conducted war on his own people.

    The introduction of sedition laws at the same time as laws are introduced to take away rights and protections, for people, earning a living to feed their families, is revolutionary. This kind of deregulation led to the abuses which occurred in Dickensian England. The next reform will be to have those on welfare in Workhouses – at least they won’t be homeless eh?.

    If the economic benefits are so great then the advertsing blitz would have told us how the average Australian will be better off under the new system – that these figures are ignored by the Government means that this will not be an intended consequence.

  17. Dogz
    November 4th, 2005 at 22:40 | #17

    Whoa baby. I can see the spittle marks on your monitor from here. I take it you’ve read the legislation?

  18. UQ Student
    November 5th, 2005 at 01:11 | #18

    Actually now that you mention it I’m not sure if it was an AWA or what it was but it was pretty weird whatever it was. What’s a Drongo Employer? It was a normal call-centre job that looked like any other, about 100 people who came into work every morning sitting in cubicles in a large office with a manager, a boss, except that they were all “independent contractors” according to the contract they signed. It just struck me as a really absurd thing to assert, given that it was a workplace just like any other, except the contract said the employees weren’t employees. And no of course the job was not found through an agency, it was found through a newspaper and taken because the previous casual job had closed down at a week’s notice for the “off season” and the rent and bills couldn’t wait for a better job or even for a centrelink application. Although I’m happy to say that the housemate has quit that abominable job and is now one of the smiley voices that calls you up during dinner time to do a market research survey. She wanted to get an apprenticeship in mechanics but was turned down because she was already 21 years old and that’s “too old for a girl”. I guess she has the option of going out and starting her own business but she’s not into that idea especially after her dad went bankrupt.

    in answer to your question my subject is maths, luckily for my sake I’m not studying economics or law :-)

  19. Ros
    November 5th, 2005 at 08:22 | #19

    Interesting UQ, there are agencies out there offering to provide independent contractors, (hence non-award conditions), including for call centres, but they work by having the independent contractor sign a contract with the agency and the agency signs a contract with the client. I assume that your mate didn’t have an ABN.

    I am too out of it so struggle to work out what this arrangement was and if it was a legitimate one. I would have thought that this was an employee relationship whatever the employer extracted out of the ether to write in the “contract�.

    Sorry, drongo shows my age, means idiot, simpleton. It would seem from what you have said however that drongo is too nice a term to describe this employer.

    I am starting to go off this IR legislation and I don’t need to read it. JQ’s “through the 600 pages of simplification the government is giving us� says enough. The current imbroglio is sufficiently nightmarish and expensive. it seems that it will be so weighted down with rules and details that nothing of benefit will emerge for employers or employees. Professional independent contractors having extracted their less restrictive ruling re unusual circumstances and hence got the tax department off their backs, may well be the only happy players left.

  20. Tony Healy
    November 5th, 2005 at 09:44 | #20

    The arrangement described by UQ Student is a standard part of the casual/contracting world, as is his confusion over the true employment status.

    As Ros points out, it’s not an AWA as such, but rather a labour hire contract. (AWAs are essentially efforts to turn employment agreements into labour hire agreements.)

    Recruitment and labour hire firms have always inserted clauses denying an employment relationship, in an attempt to evade employment laws, but have been increasingly challenged by court decisions.

    This is actually one of the drivers for the IR reforms. The recruitment industry, large employers and various ideologues want their evasions and charades to stick. Now they are to have the full backing of John Howard and his government in their attack on democracy.

    Just as an update on the reforms, I’m astonished at how vicious they are. There are fines for turning up at a meeting (if it happens to be a union meeting), fines for seeking to include some types of wording and fines for revealing the parties to an agreement.

    The restrictions on disclosure reflect another of the wet dreams of the recruiting industry, which has always tried to keep contracts confidential. Their main motivation was to prevent workers and employers comparing pay rates and discovering the huge commissions being extracted by recruiting firms. For example, recruiters would tell the worker a job was paying $20 per hour, while telling the employer the worker demanded $100 per hour, and pocket the difference.

    The claim to confidentiality has always been dubious and never enforced, partly for business reasons as much as anything. Now the claim will carry the weight and backing of the government.

  21. Dogz
    November 5th, 2005 at 09:56 | #21

    This whole thing about “600 pages” is complete BS. I suggest anyone who buys the Labor/ACTU/ABC scare tactics on that front go read the damn thing.

    It’s got fat margins, large font, and seems to average between 50 and 100 words per page.

    recruiters would tell the worker a job was paying $20 per hour, while telling the employer the worker demanded $100 per hour, and pocket the difference

    Oh, please, give me a break. Confidentiality at that ripoff level never survives, regardless of your non-disclosure agreements.

    The number of idiotic statements coming out against this legislation is only serving to undermine the credibility of its opponents.

  22. Dogz
    November 5th, 2005 at 10:19 | #22

    Ok – this part goes straight to the ACTU ad with the woman with kids:

    For the purposes of paragraph (1)(b), in determining whether additional hours that an employee is required by an employer to work are reasonable additional hours, all relevant factors must be taken into account. Those factors may include, but are not limited to, the following:

    (b) the employee’s personal circumstances (including family responsibilities);

    ACTU/Labor credibility moves a notch further into negative territory.

  23. Katz
    November 5th, 2005 at 11:06 | #23

    All you folks who’ve copped the rough end of Dogz’s finger-wagging are quite justified in feeling just a little bit cowed. Let’s review the facts:

    1. He has terrifically modern Adelaidean ideas.
    2. He has an ever so slightly fusty turn of phrase.
    3. He has plenty of time on his hands.

    Case closed. Dogz is Alexander Downer!

    But to substantiative IR issues.

    This astute article in today’s Australian by Brad Norrington, entiled “A Nest of Termites” and not linked onto the Oz website, indicates the delayed-action sting in these IR changes.

    Cleverly, as usual, the Rodent has played salami politics, If everyone goes along with the program embedded in the legislation, many workers’ conditions will be ratcheted down over time.

    Here is the operative paragraph in Norrington’s article:

    “Once of the award, employees cannot go back. Through time, awards a likely to become irrelevant as jobs are turned over and new entrants to the labour market are employed on agreements.”

    It boils down to this:

    Think of the last time you changed jobs. You were emplpoyed under an award. Were you to change jobs tomorrow, you’ld be employed under an award.

    Were you to stay in your job after passage of the IR legislation, the shadow of your award would remain, at least until the employer decided to get rid of it.

    After passage of the IR legislation, employees who change jobs won’t even have the shadow of the award for protection.

    The Rodent hoped that the sleeping frog wouldn’t wake up to this while it is being slowly boiled to death. Given his ability to pull this trick off in the past, he had every reason to be confident. But the unexpected control of the Senate has caused a rush of blood. He turned up the heat on the frog and woke it up.

  24. Patrick
    November 5th, 2005 at 12:55 | #24

    Katz, that link, just to go back to it, was an excellent illustration of how bad wikipedia gets as soon as their is an agenda to push. But to start with your agenda:
    Apaprently, I was to see ‘that the country’s main exports are manufactured products.

    But again, did you read the page? Not one iota of evidence for that claim. In particular, did you see the part about services being 71% of the economy? hmm.

    It’s a good thing to correct people – even nit-picking is useful, since it helps define more precisely the parameters of the discussion, and that helps a lot. But it helps to actually have something to pick at.

  25. Tony Healy
    November 5th, 2005 at 13:11 | #25

    Dogz, those sort of arrangements do exist. I personally know of one where the recruiter was pocketing $100 per hour from a $150 per hour contract, many years ago.

    Here also is an interesting blog post on the topic by a guy who recounts paying $325 per hour to IBM Global Services for contractors who were themselves paid just $75 per hour.

    Confidentiality usually survives well enough for the purposes of the recruiter / labour hire firm. When it does fail, there’s nothing the contractor or employer can realistically do, because they’re locked into the contract and deterred by hefty penalty fees. This is the wonderful world of contracting and labour hire.

  26. Ros
    November 5th, 2005 at 15:11 | #26

    “Management was under the assumption that we would be getting real implementation experts from IBM. ” etc
    This particular story is surely more about consulting and competent management. There are the firms that require a breakdown of the charges from labour hire firms. Not because they are great humanitarians but because they want value for their buck.

  27. Tony Healy
    November 5th, 2005 at 15:46 | #27

    Yes, but it’s also about labour hire and contracting. Those contractors that did the work were exactly what we’re talking about here – “contractors” or casual workers with contracts similar to the one UQ Student described.
    The project manager describes the huge markups available.

    Recall that Dogz says this couldn’t happen.

  28. Ros
    November 5th, 2005 at 17:04 | #28

    Thanks for the link Tony, but I would still see this story as essentially about a workplace that in some ways escapes the one that the IR Bill is about, particularly as I think he is in the USA?. The 90,000 per week and he mines them off monster.com would reinforce that view. If you could point me at a one man band labour hire entity in Australia that earns 90,000 a week I really would attempt to eat a hat.

    But these independent contractors he refers to are I would suspect happily earning what they want to. A young woman we know earns about $350,000 a year IT contracting (not Australia). She works hard and long but that is what she wants. She is not an exception.

    These are workers in a very different environment to those for whom the changes are fearful. The tax system is of far greater interest to them than the IR system. There are of course those like family care workers who are required to operate as independent contractors (eg licensed by local councils in Queensland) whose circumstances are nothing like these particularly skilled workers. But their difficulties are now, what will the new IR mean in relation to their working lives?

    Enjoyable going off and reading Larry Prusak however.

  29. gordon
    November 5th, 2005 at 17:43 | #29

    Fascinating thread. Just to let Dogz, Katz and Roberto know that I haven’t died or left the planet, I note lots of commenters implying that the Rodent hasn’t got Australia’s or Australians’ best interests at heart. We might mention the FTA with the USA, as well as the war in Iraq, the terror legislation and of course the present issue of IR. I note that Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews stopped only just short of accusing the govt. of deliberate treason in their 2004 book “How to Kill a Country” (Allen and Unwin).

    I don’t have a copy of the Rodent’s secret signed agreement with the Republican Party on me just at the moment, but maybe it’ll turn up. In the meantime, we have to make judgements about these things, and I think there is enough evidence around to decide that our Federal Government is more interested in the interests of foreign investors than in the interests of anybody living here.

    Anybody interested in what I mean by “make judgements about these things”, could refer to my comments of June 17 and 18 2005 on the post “Experts and Interests” of June 13.

  30. Roberto
    November 6th, 2005 at 11:01 | #30

    Given the Treasury admission, looks like I was right

    Roberto Says: November 2nd, 2005 at 9:17 pm
    Have I missed something, but usually/typically the Goverment commissions Treasury (or external consultants through Treasury) to conduct modelling to test effects and outcomes.

    I know there was a lot of activity on this front during ANTS/GST. However, the Government must have undertaken some even limited modelling, and why hasn’t that been released, even if it supports the Gov’t’s contention – at least then it could be scrutinised and tested!

  31. stoptherubbish
    November 6th, 2005 at 12:20 | #31

    Dogz dude,
    You really should read the legislation before you talk about the role of awards. The awards are effectively, gone. What underpins agreements, especialy AWAs is the new guaranteed by law , five minimum conditons, all of which are less than just about any award I am familiar with, and of course, omit pesky little entitlements such as overtime, penalties, shift lengths and the like. And while we are on the subject of welfare, understand that if a person does not take a job at those conditions, their welfare payment will be stopped. What’s that about the 21st century again?

    I like argument about the likely consequences of this kind of thing but I am losing patience with the line that says, ‘it is all for your own good, because all those who don’t earn lots of money are just lazy bastards’. Reading the posts here and elsewhere, it is clear that class war is alive and well all right-it is just that it is being waged downwards, instead of up. The sheer contempt for other people who are not as fortunate or who have different labour market positions, is really frightening. It is also instructive for me, that the people who hold Australia and its values in real contempt are those wh simply couldn’t wait to tear up our own version of the social compact. All of you who support these changes, all of you who hold believe that the power you possess is appropriate and that others should have no power other than the power to hawk themselves from employer to employer, should walk a mile in someone elses shoes. You should also be honest, and admit that what you hate most about this country is that by and large no one except you, wants to live in the US. The mantra out there in the real world, where people say exactly what they think to each other (no, not in front of the boss) is that the laws are designed to make Australia like the US. That is what the ‘punters’ are saying. And if you think that makes people relaxed and comfortable, you need to get out more.

  32. davey
    November 6th, 2005 at 12:41 | #32

    well said, stoptherubbish.

  33. Ian Gould
    November 6th, 2005 at 16:04 | #33

    FogZ: “I might be more inclined to listen to those who rail against inequality if they put their money where there mouth is. There’s little credibility lamenting the plight of those at the bottom when you’re a union leader/academic/ABC employee/public servant/labour party MP happily stashing $100,000 – $300,000 per year.”

    I’m an employer in the private sector and my salry is currently aroudn $30,000 a year.

    Am I allowed to have an opinion?

    Or is that reserved for careerist politicians on $100k+ a year?

  34. Ian Gould
    November 6th, 2005 at 16:10 | #34

    Anyone not concerned about inequality should graphdifferent countries’ per capita GDP or GDP growth against their Fini Co-efficient.

  35. Katz
    November 6th, 2005 at 16:13 | #35

    Good get Roberto.

    I wonder where Costello’s real loyalties lie in this instance.

    On the one hand he seems to be acting like a good Howard soldier. On the other hand, his reluctance has drawn attentin to something which wasn’t really on the political horizon.

  36. Dogz
    November 6th, 2005 at 16:48 | #36

    Tony Healy, I didn’t say it couldn’t happen, I said “Confidentiality at that ripoff level never survives, regardless of your non-disclosure agreements.”
    That is, if it does happen, it won’t survive. One way or another the employer will find out he’s paying a 500% markup and when he does he won’t use that service again, at least not if he wants to stay in business.

    stoptherubbish, the only time I discussed awards I was clearly talking about their role with respect to AWAs under the _present_ law. And if you’re going to replace a gazillion industry specific awards by universal guaranteed minimum conditions, wouldn’t you take their intersection rather than their union as a starting point? If not, you’ll end up with all kinds of minimum conditions that are not relevant to most industries. Most employers will negotiate specific extensions relevant to their business.

    And while we are on the subject of welfare, understand that if a person does not take a job at those conditions, their welfare payment will be stopped.

    And what is wrong with that? Anytime you feel like supporting me to sit on my arse and do nothing, please let me know and I’ll tell you where to send the cheques.

    the people who hold Australia and its values in real contempt

    Which values would those be? Enterprise, self-reliance, “avagoyamug”, generous public healthcare and education? Or the “victim culture” in which no-one is responsible for their own destiny and for whom refusing to take a job and sitting on the dole is legitimate? I have nothing but respect for the former, and nothing but contempt for the latter. It will be to the great benefit of Australia if this government succeeds in changing the culture away from the latter set of values, or at least succeeds in diminishing the power of those who subscribe to them.

  37. Dogz
    November 6th, 2005 at 17:21 | #37

    Ian – everyone is entitled to their opinion. The credibility of their opinion is the issue.

  38. Terje Petersen
    November 7th, 2005 at 03:59 | #38

    QUOTE EG: Without evidence to the contrary, I would not consider it to be ‘fair’ to make it the responsibility of the relatively poor people (as measured by income distribution data) in the relatively rich countries (as measured by GDP per capita) to look after the relatively poor people in the relatively poor countries.

    RESPONSE: If you take a global perspective (ie readjust your relative) then there are no poor people in the rich countries. I think hardly anybody in the rich countries should be regarded as “responsible” for poverty in poor countries as nearly all of it is home grown. So to that extent I agree. However policies have consequences and closing off trade with poor nations will generally leave them poorer (look at Iraq during the trade sanctions).

    Of course the problem in most poor countries are the domestic trade barriers (red tape and high taxes) rather than any internation trade barriers imposed at our end.

    Life will never be “fair”. Justice is not served by trying to impose fairness. Lest we make everybody blind in order to be fair to those born without sight.

  39. stoptherubbish
    November 7th, 2005 at 12:56 | #39

    Dogz,
    You are indeed entitled to your opinion, but if you are talking through your hat, I am entitled to point it out. It is clear you have simply no idea what you are talking about in respect of how either the previous (pre Nov 2 )system worked ,or how the new one will work. Let me tell you something sunshine-it was employers who rejected the proposition to reduce awards to a few indsutry based awards, and who demanded that they get an award for every enterprise. They got what they wanted, now they say there are too many awards. Oh pleeeeze!

    Now what they want in fact is no award at all, instead five lousy basic terms which are less than any award covered employee has a right to now. You are so full of bile, you cannot even be bothered to research your facts. It is also clear that you are one of the people I was referring to who have nothing but contempt for others who may not share either your views or your place in society.

    I intend to borrow some of the invective you use against others here, and point it toward you-how dare you assume that everybody currently receiving welfare support are lazy bludgers, and where the hell do you get off abusing those whose earning power is less than you, but who work damned hard because they care for themselves and their families? How dare you assume that fellow Australians who are working the kind of hours that puts Australia at the top of the tree for annual hours (1855 per annum) deserve to take a shave on their rights pay and conditions because you say they are lazy whinging bludgers. Finally, why don’t you take your invective and contempt for others, and face a big meeting of ordinary working people and tell them what you really think of them, instead of posting here, you blustering loudmouthed and ignorant bully.

  40. Dogz
    November 7th, 2005 at 14:29 | #40

    str, lay off the insults. Insofar as knowing what I am talking about, checkout this link summarizing AWAs for employers: http://www.workplace.gov.au/workplace/Category/Legislation/WRAct/Part+4+-+Making+an+Australian+Workplace+Agreement.htm

    From that page:

    All AWAs are required to meet the no-disadvantage test, which ensures that an employee’s overall terms and conditions, when considered globally, are not reduced by an AWA, when compared with relevant awards and any relevant legislation. You need to consider whether the proposed AWA, when considered as a whole, appears no less favourable to the employee or employees.

    I believe that was precisely what I said about AWAs when UQ student originally brought this up.

    Now what they want in fact is no award at all, instead five lousy basic terms which are less than any award covered employee has a right to now.

    You missed my point: I did not say the five basic terms exceeded the terms of any award. I said that as a starting point they should be the terms in common between all awards (although I doubt that is the case – probably the intersection of all award terms is strictly empty due to most terms being technically incomparable).

    …deserve to take a shave on their rights pay and conditions because you say they are lazy whinging bludgers…

    where did I say that?

    You are so full of bile, you cannot even be bothered to research your facts. It is also clear that you are one of the people I was referring to who have nothing but contempt for others who may not share either your views or your place in society

    ….

    Finally, why don’t you take your invective and contempt for others, and face a big meeting of ordinary working people and tell them what you really think of them, instead of posting here, you blustering loudmouthed and ignorant bully.

    I clearly can’t match you on the bile front, mate. Nor do I have contempt for those who work – I’d be quite happy fronting your meeting. But it would be far more entertaining to watch you espouse your theory of legitimate dole bludging at that meeting.

  41. stoptherubbish
    November 7th, 2005 at 14:37 | #41

    And where exactly do I posit a theory of ‘legitimate dole bludging’? Wake up to yourself.

  42. Dogz
    November 7th, 2005 at 14:49 | #42

    And while we are on the subject of welfare, understand that if a person does not take a job at those conditions, their welfare payment will be stopped.

    Those 5 basic conditions are:

    - minimum wage (currently around $13 per hour)

    – maximum ordinary working hours of 38 hours a week averaged over 12 months

    - annual leave of four weeks per year, plus an additional weeks leave for shift workers

    - parental leave of 52 weeks unpaid leave

    - personal leave of 10 days a year of which all 10 days can be used for carer’s leave, two additional days for unpaid carer’s leave and two days compassionate leave per occasion

    Some of those are better than some current awards (eg 10 days personal leave).

    Particularly taken against the backdrop of strong social welfare in Australia (free healthcare, good public schools, FTB, maternity payments of several thousand dollars), they seem like completely reasonable minimum conditions. Therefore, it seems quite appropriate to describe your objection to someone’s welfare payments being stopped for refusing to accept a job with those conditions as a “theory of legitimate dole bludging”.

  43. stoptherubbish
    November 7th, 2005 at 15:40 | #43

    You see there you go again. You assume my original comment was a protest at people being required to take a job. It was not. It was a comment on the fact that the terms and conditions available to those now coming into the workforce including those who are deemed to be ‘able to work’ 15 hours a week, will be less than those already there. And by the way, this fact alone will ensure that people already employed on the existing award minimum (the full award that is) are at risk of being ‘restructured for operational reasons’ out of their job, when the new five minima employees come knocking on the employer’s door. And just to finish up, I happen to think it is unfair and opressive to require one group of people to take the first thing that is offered, irrespective of the terms, when others are free to try and find something better. In the end every one has to make some trade off between no income at all, and what you can get, but singling out those dependent on welfare for treatment no-one else has to endure, on the sole grounds that they receive income support is oppressive, punitive and a type of social bullying that I am accusing you of, and all those who support this kind of neo liberal 19th century crapola.

  44. Dogz
    November 7th, 2005 at 16:50 | #44

    str, if you change the system, someone, somewhere, has to receive different treatment. Otherwise, it wouldn’t qualify as a change, would it?

    But I take your point that it does not seem reasonable to require an unemployed person to take the _first_ job offered. That makes sense for longer-term unemployed, but is that really the case for everybody? Is there no grace period for recently unemployed?

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