|Issue No 50||14 April 2000|
A Greasy Hamberger
As the Employment Advocate celebrates his 100,000 AWA, we have a present of our own. Arise Jonathon Hamberger, you are our Tool of the Week!
Indeed, Hamburger personifies the term - having made the journey from Peter Reith's personal staff where he drove the first wave of union-bashing laws to the hallowed office of the anti-union police.
The Employment Advocate was the body set up when Howard came to power, ostensibly to keep good his promise that "no Australian worker would be worse off" under the Tories.
What it quickly became was a goon squad of bureaucrats running rampage across the industrial landscape and harassing officials for breaching the so-called Freedom of Association provisions of the Workplace Relations Act.
At the same time Hamburger made it his personal mission to get the Australian workforce onto individual contracts and out of the clutches of the trade unions.
This has included promoting model AWAs for employers (that smack of the sort of pattern bargaining he attempts to outlaw) with such 'innovative' clauses as giving building employers the right to direct workers to use RDOs to make up for time lost to bad weather.
And he's done this with such uncontained zeal that the number of contracts seems to have now become his key performance indicator - as evidenced by his crowing media release this week.
"The number of AWAs has virtually doubled in the past year," he sings. "One in twelve businesses with more than a hundred employees nowhave AWAs, and one in three of the top thirty Australian companies now have AWAs!"
"As the pressure of modern life increases, employees are becoming more conscious of the need to balance their working lives with their family and social lives," Hamburger rhapsodises in the release.
"AWAs are a simple and effective way to pursue this balance and the OEA over the next twelve months intends to focus on promoting the benefits of AWAs to small businesses as well as encouraging family friendly agreements," he warns.
Which is al very nice - although it leaves us wondering what's happened to what should be the Employment Advocate's key competency - advocating on behalf of workers.
No mention was made in the release about the fact that for all his bluster, Hamberger has launched just three prosecutions -- two unsuccessful actions against trade unions and one against an employer who discriminated against an employee for contacting the Advocate, itself.
And he's failed to launch a single prosecution on behalf of a union member despite the promises that he would become the new champion for ordinary workers.
This is at a time when Labor Council's own polling shows that nearly double the number of people who are in unions would be if they felt had the freedom to do so.
Hamberger may be proud of the inroads he is making into deunionising Australia - but as he sits in the Tool Shed this week we ask him to think about the good he could do if he was fulfilling his original brief.
Interview: The Gospel According To ...
Green Bans legend Jack Mundey looks back on his days in the BLF and the lessons that can be drawn from that experience today,
Unions: Spinning at the Casino
In the lead-up to this weekend's historic strike, active LHMU members at Sydney’s Star City Casino have been making their own news.
East Timor: Rebuilding From the Nightmare
NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw travelled to Dili to get a first-hand perspective on the reconstruction work required.
History: Internal Democracy and the BLF
How the rank and file team that took over the BLF in the early sixties attempted to devolve power to the grassroots.
International: Towards Liberation
Zimbabwe trade unions are at the centre of the democratic struggle going on within the African Nation
Republic: The Referendum We Had To Have
Paul Norton finds some hope in last year's resounding defeat of the republic proposition.
Work/Time/Life: @work in the e-century
Marian Baird takes stock of how far we’ve come, or not come, in terms of our working life.
Review: Rocking the Foundations
Pat Fiske's wonderful documentary on the BLF should be compulsory viewing for anyone in the union movement talking about shifting to an Organising Model.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005