Category Archives: Employment

But tips are good for wait staff who WANT their wages cut

I’ve raised concerns about the terrible idea that bringing tipping culture to Australia would be before – on behalf of a friend so there’s no need to spit in my food, tipping mafia – and primary amongst them is that it depresses wages. It turns waiters and waitresses from workers entitled to a reasonable salary for the work they do into beggars.

And here’s a recent bill in Florida proposing further lowering the already pathetic minimum wage on the grounds of tips.

I can’t believe we saw that coming.

UPDATE: In other insane US state legislating, the Arizona Senate has voted to allow doctors to with-hold information from their female patients about prenatal problems. The bill now goes to the Arizona state house.

Well of course they do

The Business Council of Australia thinks it’s unfair for rich Australians to pay a flood levy – we should take it out of the disabled instead:

The Business Council says cuts to disability services and foreign aid should be considered as alternatives to the flood levy.

The Federal Government says the $1.8 billion tax is needed to help pay for flood and cyclone reconstruction in Queensland and Victoria.

But in its pre-budget submission, the Business Council, which represents Australia’s top 100 companies, says the government should instead press ahead with returning the budget to surplus through short-term spending discipline.

Council president Graham Bradley says all current spending should be reviewed and disability pensions may not be the best use of government money.

I’m surprised the BCA isn’t just straight out bashing the unemployed – surely it realises that picking on the disabled is likely to be torn to pieces – but, either way, what a repulsively typical approach.

After finishing his speech, Graham Bradley twirled his moustache, gave a short but sinister laugh, walked to the door over a line of disabled people specially bused-in by his staff and then kicked onto the floor for him to use as carpet, and kicked a poor person in the testicles for looking unemployed.

Oddly enough, in its campaign to drive the disabled back to work, and its expressions of concern for the debilitating effects of long term unemployment, the BCA did not advocate any regulations making it more difficult for corporate Australia to sack large swathes of its workforce whenever it appears profitable to do so.

No, it just wants to make life harder for the people least able to afford it.

What a lovely group of people.

A tip for Melbourne’s worker-abusing “top” hotels

Thought institutionalised abuse of hospitality workers wasn’t really a problem in Melbourne? Afraid it is:

The report finds that dangerous workloads, poverty wages and a toxic climate of fear are evident in many of Melbourne’s top luxury hotels.

“Tucked away behind the chandeliers and those shiny, opulent lobbies are a bullied and brutalised workforce of migrant women,” said Melba Marginson, Executive Officer of the Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition, which produced the report.

“Room attendants get as little as 15 minutes to clean hotel rooms, even though it takes about 45 minutes to properly clean a room after a guest checks out. Almost no room attendant we surveyed can clean a hotel room in the minimal time they are given. Most are expected to stay back and work for free.

“Workers have had their wages docked and fear dismissal if they refuse to work for free. Workloads are so extreme across our city that half of all full-time room attendants have been injured at work. Meanwhile these hotels are making huge profits, charging guests up to $1500 a night.

“Melbourne room attendants are so poorly paid that some are rationing food, falling behind in rent and cannot afford to buy new clothes.”

Did you hear about the Hotels With Heart campaign fighting this, when it launched in October? Me neither.

And the Hilton is still refusing to sign any charter improving its treatment of its workers.

Lucky for them that the media aren’t paying attention, I guess.

Dear Gerry and Sol, thanks for reminding us how much you’re ripping us off. Love, former customers

The biggest retailers in the country, happily profiting from a high Australian dollar for purchasing overseas-made goods, are determined to stop Australian consumers from doing the same:

Some of Australia’s biggest retailers are launching an advertising campaign saying existing tax rules give overseas-based online companies an unfair competitive advantage.

The lobby group includes Myer, David Jones, Harvey Norman and Target.

Goods bought online from overseas retailers are currently exempt from GST if they are worth less than $1,000, but Australian retailers want GST applied to all online purchases.

The point of that, obviously, is reducing the number of online sites willing to jump through the hoops to sell to Australians, and thereby restoring the local distributors’ profiteering monopoly – enabling them to buy more cheaply but forcing Australian consumers to pay inflated local prices. It only takes a moment to see that the difference between Australian retail prices and overseas online prices is much more than the 10% GST…

Like the big mining corporations before them, the retailers are printing ads threatening to have to SACK LOTS OF ORDINARY WORKERS if they don’t get their way (we don’t care if it costs more to enforce than the tax raised! The point is hurting our competitors!); like the miners, they’re talking absolute crap (our lower sales over Christmas are all to do with this convenient scapegoat and nothing else!).

Interestingly, even at News Ltd, the retailers don’t seem to be getting too much sympathy from readers or, once that became clear, the graphic artists:

I wonder if Mr Harvey thought through the consequences of highlighting to his customers on every news site just how much better deals are online.

Back to the drawing board, Gerry.

UPDATE (6/1): As will surprise practically no-one, Gerry is doubling down, calling anyone who shops online “un-Australian” and finally remembering that the successful mining industry campaign was about scaring people that they were going to “get whacked”:

“Yes, you might have to pay more, but it’s the right thing to do. You’ll pay a lot more if we lose jobs and retailers close down,” he said.

No, we’ll pay a lot more if overseas sites simply stop selling to us and we’re forced again to rely on you and your profiteering mates as the sole importers of those goods – which is of course your aim.

Or, as Stephen Harrington put it to Harvey in The Punch:

The funny thing is, though, I’m right with you. I want a level playing field too.

So I assume, like me, you’re in favour of estate tax? Perhaps, too, a significant boost in the minimum wage for Australians? I mean, that would certainly level the playing field regarding opportunities which are afforded to us and our children.

If you’re in favour of fairness, I assume you’ll soon be starting up a campaign to push for better pay for the workers in developing nations who make most of the household goods that you sell at a huge profit?

Maybe you could help out some of those people who weren’t given much of a start in life? Or, would that also be, in your own words, “just wasted”?

Hey, Gerry, in all seriousness if you really want “a level playing field”, I’m right behind you. But, like most people, I want to level the entire field, not just your luxurious corner of it.

Given how unpopular Mr Harvey makes himself every time he opens his mouth (including in his painful advertisements), it’s somewhat surprising that the other retailers were happy for him to speak for them.

UPDATE (7/1): Gerry inadvertently reveals how it’s got nothing to do with the 10% GST:

”What we are talking about is someone buying a guitar in New York, for instance, and having it sent over here 30 per cent cheaper. It is giving that overseas retailer the advantage.”

So, discounting the 10% GST, you admit you’re gouging another 20%?

Employers’ Day

Victorians and Tasmanians got a day off work today, the lazy buggers, for one of the nation’s most shamelessly partisan and unfair traditions: Labor Day. You’ll notice that we conservatives don’t have a Liberal Day, or a National Day, or a Conservative Day. How unfair is that?

Well, I propose that this shameless bias in our public institutions be remedied. When the Liberal Party next wins office (I’m told by various well-informed sources in the opinion pages of Melbourne’s tabloid of record that it’ll be this year, because 2007 was an accident and Kevin Rudds’ is definitely going to be a one-term government), we’re going to introduce Employers’ Day. A day to celebrate all the fine work employers’ groups have done in fighting against workers’ “rights” and in squeezing every ounce of productivity out of those parasitical leeches for the least possible money.

It’ll be held on a Saturday, and where Labor Day involves employers having to pay workers to stay home and do nothing, on Employers’ Day they’ll have to come to work on the weekend for no pay whatsoever. Also, health and safety protections will be relaxed, and bosses will get one free unfair dismissal of their choosing. It’ll be a glorious vision of what Australia could be, if only we got our way just a little more.

Come, my fellow Australians. We built this country, with your labour. Isn’t it time we got something back?

Maybe workers will have changed their minds about us taking away their rights again

Isn’t Tony Abbott nice? I’d been hoping for a repeat of the 2007 election result (at least in terms of ALP vs Liberals), but was worried the conservatives might try a different argument this time around.

Turns out they won’t.

I wonder why Tony thinks they lost the last one.

Also – using the Bible to justify inaction on homelessness? Classy! (Literally.)

Tele pining for the 1950s

Bold headline in the Daily Telegraph:

Women were much better off in the 1950s

WOMEN with working husbands are tied to the sink by a welfare system hampering job hunting.

Since when does “women with working husbands” equal “women” in general?

Anyway, I’m not convinced that the two arguments the Tele offers in support of that assertion – even as it applies to the smaller group in question – are sufficient to justify it:

  • women “have less help from the Federal Government’s job-seeking services now than in the 1950s”; and

  • “even when they find a job, they then have difficulties taking it because of inadequate before and after school childcare, non-existent holiday minding services and inflexible working hours” and they are therefore “also more likely to refuse job promotions”.

Oh, I see – the “women” of the headline is actually “women with working husbands AND children”.

Even so, whilst it is indeed true that women in general are disadvantaged in today’s workforce compared with their male counterparts, it is clearly ridiculous to argue that they were “better off in the 1950s” when the barriers were even greater.

Okay, so yes, job-seeking services are targeted at those without a working partner – ie, the poorest among us – but what is the Tele suggesting we should do instead? I doubt it’s advocating greater public spending on jobseeking services – isn’t it the “we need tax cuts” media organisation? For the same reason, I’m somewhat dubious of its complaints about the privatisation of government employment assistance – doesn’t it usually cheerlead for privatisation?

As for the disadvantages women face in the workforce – those are real problems that we should be tackling. But they were worse in the 1950s – a time when women’s participation in the professional workforce was overtly frowned-upon.

The piece seems to be trying to blame what came after the 1950s – a more active post-suffrage feminist movement – for the difficulties women face now, rather than, for example, the lack of adequate government funding for childcare, or employers’ unhelpful approach to issues like working hours. Blaming feminists for the problems that they’ve been fighting hard against for more than fifty years, and giving the entities with the power to actually enact change a free pass. I’m sure that plays very well to a certain audience, but it’s both absurd and offensive.

Still, as a piece of provocative link-bait – mission accomplished.