Monday, 23 July 2007

AWAs Are NOT AOK. But You Knew That Already.

There's an ad circulating on TV, in which some woman stares straight down the barrel directly into your eyes, and tells you that the new Industrial Relations laws do not leave workers unprotected, there is a body to "look after" the workers, and an Ombudman, no less. She looks so effing butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth honest that you begin to think that maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Then you read articles such as this one and you know it's just more government bullshit... And why is this? Well, to begin with, the tone of the (very expensive, paid for with our taxes which just quietly are also not fair, far from it) commercial suggests that all employers know that the the Government Workplace watchdog is not to be trifled with.

(Brief article synopsis: Boy notices that his AWA seems to be a little bit unfair, takes it home to his parents before signing. Father is a Union official, has trouble understanding the AWA but sees that in addition to signing for ony 75% of the wage he's entitled to, the lad is also being asked to sign a five year agreement, and various other things. Boy asks for the AWA to be amended and is refused the job.)

So yeah, it sure looks like this particular employer was trembling in their office in total fear, doesn't it? No, they just wrote the AWA as biased as they wanted, knowing they had two aces up their sleeve. One, the average kid (and the parents, remember this was a union official who understands doublespeak) hasn't got a clue and will happily sign such a document.

Not being in any position to take the document home to their parents most of the time, what makes us think these exploited kids will get permission to take the AWA to the Ombudsman?

And therein lies the second point: Has this young guy got his job at a fair rate of pay? No he does not. The employer's attitude is "you don't like it, we'll find a hundred others who'll be dopes and just sign."

Overcoming that is gonna take changes in the education curriculum, such as taking classes in Your Rights 101 and DoubleSpeak 2.2 before letting the kids loose on the workplace. And as the state of our education system shows, the government is actively aware that a dumb population is a placid population...

So - if you're a parent, *insist* that your child brings home the AWA before signing it. If necessary go with your child, and insist. Read it carefully, and if anything is slightly amiss-looking or not clear, USE the Workplace Ombudsman, recoup some of your tax that they've spent on the advertising! And if a place has unfair AWAs, become an activist, let others know, boycott the place, write to your member for parliament and to all the newspapers!

I have said in the past, if you let people get away with stuff like this, they will get away with it, and get worse. That goes for unfair employers as much as it goes for unfair government. Do help keep your government honest by doing these things. One day it will result in a much fairer Australia!

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