||Issue No. 234||20 August 2004|
Interview: Trading Places
Safety: Snow Job
Politics: In the Vanguard
Unions: Gentle Giant Goes For Gold
Bad Boss: 'Porker' Chases Blue Ribbon
International: Cruising For A Bruising
History: Under the Influence
Economics: Working Capital
Review: Fahrenheit 9/11
Poetry: Bad Intelligence Rap
Satire: Osama Bin Manchu
The Locker Room
Tom Relieves Himself
System Screws Workers
That was his solemn pledge in the months leading up to the 1996 election that 'no Australian workers would be worse off' under a Howard Government.
It was a line the media swallowed hook. line and sinker, effectively denting the campaign by the ALP and unions to unpack his industrial relations agenda and show how deregulation would harm working Australians.
Eight years on the lie stands and continues to be perpetuated: that labour market deregulation delivers better living standards for workers.
On the rare occasions the Tories are pressed to explain how this is so they speak of the 'freedom' to take up casual jobs, the increased job opportunities created by freeing small business of their legal obligations and the increased economic activity caused by lower labour costs,
To this the Howard Government has dedicated itself to 'reforming' industrial relations system - stripping back the powers of industrial relations commission, promoting individual contracts and leading the most vicious attack on unions in the nation's history.
And it is in the execution of this blueprint that John Howard's lie is exposed.
Australians are working longer, they are more likely to be in casual or part-time work, they have fewer rights to take industrial action than before John Howard became Prime Minister.
But these are all value calls; now the Australian Bureau of Statistics has put a dollar figure on the extent of the PM's lie.
Data released this week shows a fall of half a per cent in total earnings over the last quarter, proof of a surge in low paid jobs.
Other research is equally as damning.
Earlier this year, the ABS found there had been a statistically significant widening of the gap between rich and poor in recent years.
Recent research by Dr Peter Saunders of the UNSW also shows that since the election of the Howard Government in 1996, Australia's top income earners have received almost half the benefit of all economic growth and that their income has increased more than eight times that of the poorest income earners.
While the PM trots out his unemployment figures, he ducks the reality that two out of every three net new jobs created in the last three years paid less than $600 a week - less than $31,200 a year.
Meanwhile, almost one million Australians are working overtime but not being paid for it. This is an increase of almost a quarter since 1996.
There are now more than 2.2 million casual workers - an increase of 22 per cent since 1996 while part time jobs growth continues to outstrip full time jobs growth with no full time jobs created in the last month but an extra 21,600 part-time jobs.
More than 28 per cent of the total workforce are now in part time work and yet research shows there are more than 600,000 part time workers wanting more hours of work.
As for equality, CEOs get a reality cheque 74 times average weekly earnings and golden parachutes on failure, while the numbers say that the more you pay the executive the worse the company performs.
The numbers add up to a lie every bit as stark as the 'never ever GST', the children overboard and the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The truth? Howard's Australia has delivered a shift in wealth from the middle and working classes to the corporations and elites off the back of a workforce working longer for less and stripped of their rights.
If you believe that Australian workers are not worse off under a Howard Government, then you'd believe that signiing an AWA was an act of personal empowerment.
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