33 million reasons to laugh all the way to the bank

WorkChoices isn’t the only thing to get big business leaders rubbing their hands. Macquarie Bank has announced that CEO Allan Moss will personally pocket $33.5 million this year — including a $12 million pay rise. This, the ACTU claims, is a clear indication of the widening gap between the rich and poor in Australia as working families struggle under John Howard’s unfair IR laws while big business racks up record profits.

‘Mr Moss may have been doing a good job but $33 million is an outrageous salary and bonus package while the average working person will be lucky to earn $50,000 per year,’ said ACTU President Sharan Burrow. ‘There are working families struggling under John Howard’s unfair IR laws while big business is raking in profits like never before because of the very same laws.’

Wall-to-wall Big Brother

You can’t tune into Channel 10 any evening or night without getting a full dose of reality TV porridge Big Brother. Now the Howard government is filling the ad breaks between the dross with its own Orwellian world view, forking out over $126 million (so far) to spruik its cosmetic surgery to WorkChoices ($5 million and counting), climate change ($52 million) and superannuation ($42 million), for starters. A government spokesperson admitted to a senate committee that there were at least 22 government advertising campaigns underway.

The Howard government was producing so many ads that, according to Harold Mitchell, the biggest media buyer in the country it is struggling to find room to place them. ‘It’s a great difficulty,’ he told 7.30 Report.

Labor voiced its outrage at the political nature of the ads. ‘You can’t claim to be an economic manager with discipline, when you’re spending public money in such a wasteful, and political way,’ said Shadow Treasurer Wayne Swan.

The Howard government has spent $1.7 billion on advertising since it was elected in 1996. John Howard said his government’s ad campaigns were pure fact, not public relations.

Sacking workers is easy, just restructure

Despite Howard’s ‘fairness test’, it’s easy to sack someone for ‘operational reasons’, says the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

The IR Commission has ruled that the restructuring of a company is a ‘genuine operation reason’ for sacking a worker, even if it breaches an employee contract and regardless of how badly the worker is treated when fired.

The court ruling, which was given after the implementation of John Howard’s so-called ‘fairness test’, actually broadens the scope for employers to get rid of employees under the ‘operation reasons’ of WorkChoices.

Previous judgements had said it was valid to fire someone then advertise the job at a lower salary if the company was in financial difficulty. In the latest case with Global Television Services, there was no evidence of financial difficulty.

WorkChoices directive: you shall not adjust your bra strap

Every day there is another revelation that exposes the malevolence and/or absurdity of the Howard government’s IR laws. A template AWA has been designed for Australia’s hotel and hospitality workers by the industry’s employer peak body the Hotels, Motels and Accomodation Association that strips out every single award condition and penalty rate in return for the legal minimum wage of $13.47 an hour. Adding insult to injury, in at least one hospitality workplace, the Lilac City Motor Inn in Goulburn, the AWA is accompanied by guidelines that ban necklaces, bracelets and rings, perfume and aftershave, rubbing your nose, yawning and pulling at your bra strap.

The employer at the Lilac, Don Doolan, told the Daily Telegraph, ‘We follow the government legislation and that’s all you can do as an Australian citizen.’