||Issue No. 258||08 April 2005|
Be My Guest
Interview: [email protected]
Unions: State of the Union
Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Legal: Leg Before Picket
Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Health: Cannabis Controversy
Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
History: Politics In The Pubs
Review: Three Bob's Worth
Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
The Locker Room
The Workers’ Friend
The Honourable Doctor Peter Wong, a member of the 'Bunyip Aristocracy' - sometimes referred to as the New South Wales' Legislative Council - is a caring man.
He rose to power on the Unity Party ticket.
The Unity Party was formed to combat the rise of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party. But, with John Howard pretty much stealing their more marketable policies, One Nation has since become a haven for ratbags, shonks and the truly bizarre.
Which brings us to the Unity Party.
The good Dr Wong was left in something of a bind, his raison detrehad evaporated, yet he had this cushy parliamentary position and all that shiny, glistening superannuation winking at him over there. What could he do? If he didn't move quickly it would all be lost!
Dr Wong decided to re-invent himself.
Most people would probably be satisfied with having one position on any subject, but not Dr Wong.
This intellectually generous servant of the people re-invented himself as a man who doesn't stop at holding just one position on any issue, but can hold down several at once, depending upon who his audience is.
Wong is all things to all people.
The enigmatic Dr Wong has now taken it upon himself to be the champion of the oppressed in the sweatshop industry.
Now, to the casual observer that may be the people earning a few cents an hour, but not to Dr Wong.
He has exposed a secret and sinister plot to undermine the profit margins of those caring and sharing small business people in the clothing trades who employ people in their own homes out of the kindness of their hearts; providing them with hours and hours of work - sometimes as many as 18 a day!
Dr Wong forwarded a petition to the NSW Upper House, signed by scores of people (well, one score actually). This petition quite nobly sought to end the exploitation of clothing industry employees.
So, who is exploiting these workers?
Not the boss paying them a buck an hour cash in hand, according to Dr Wong. Not the boss forcing them to 'bid' against each other in some bizarre Dutch Auction. Not the boss refusing to provide adequate OHS measures or obey NSW laws.
No, according to Dr Wong, these conditions are necessary for the clothing industry "to ensure its survival and success".
According to Dr Wong, these poor sweatshop employees need to be protected from "bullying by officials of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia, including trespassing, intimidation, harassment, and wrongful imprisonment".
Oh really Dr Wong?
Parliamentary sources reveal that when confronted about the accuracy or, rather, the absence of accuracy in his petition, Dr Wong didn't deny the paucity of facts but, hey, who cares, it makes great copy for certain sections of the media around Sydney.
Is Dr Wong stupid or evil? Who knows?
Our Tool Of The Week kept a straight face while asking for a police investigation into the union, so maybe he's just a brilliant stand up comedian with a keen sense for satire. Alternately, he could be as thick as three bricks.
But our Tool didn't stop with merely a petition. His fight for sweatshop justice extends to a motion he has placed on the notice paper for the hard working denizens of the Legislative Council to ponder.
In order to protect sweatshop workers from exploitation Dr Wong thinks their bosses should be given two days notice so that they can dodgy up their books properly. This would replace the hurried and haphazard fashion that they are currently forced to use because of the "bullying" use of the element of surprise by unscrupulous workers representatives.
Some bosses, it has been reported, haven't even had time to get out the liquid paper or unlock the fire exits.
Yes, our hearts go out to the real victims of sweatshops, the owners - being gouged by employees for as much as $1 an hour.
What a mighty champion they have in Dr Wong, the workers friend
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