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Holy Grail (and others) breaching human rights?

By johnboy 28 January 2006 32

The Australian has got quite a story on the subject of Phillipino temporary visa workers in Canberra taking a case to the ACT’s Human Rights Commissioner over the conditions under which they are being made to work.

I beleive I mentioned this as a danger of bringing in overseas workers to address the so-called “skills shortage”.

But Mr Bibo said many Filipino workers were unaware that owners of prominent restaurants, including favoured political haunt The Holy Grail, were legally entitled to pay salaries of only $29,182 because the nation’s capital – unlike other capital cities – qualifies as a “regional” area under the scheme and is exempt from paying the higher minimum wage.

A third worker, Louie Sales, said he paid 50,000 pesos ($1500) to secure his job in a Canberra restaurant, where he worked eight-hour, six-day weeks for about $31,000 a year.

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32 Responses to
Holy Grail (and others) breaching human rights?
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midnitecalla 5:35 pm 03 Feb 06

agreed Mr_Shab

bonfire 5:05 pm 03 Feb 06

i never made any reference to pay rises.

Mr_Shab 4:03 pm 03 Feb 06

Where’s the incentive in offering a short-term worker a payrise? Your point is moot, bonfire.

Imported labour only really needs to be used for jobs that Aussies don’t want to do. These tend to be the crap jobs, so they’re going to be minimum wage positions.

That said, I see no justification in exploiting them because “they’re earning more than they would at home”. I’m in favour of allowing the import of workers where Australian employers can’t get workers domestically, but I’d like to see this kind of thing pretty well regulated.

bonfire 3:49 pm 03 Feb 06

as long as imported labour is paid at minimum the award rate i dont have an objection.

in some instances eg: a proposal for seasonal labour from png and other sp nations, it can benefit everyone.

Mr_Shab 2:24 pm 03 Feb 06

Substantially better, I’d say. I’d say the bloke concerned is doing pretty well by comparison, and may well be helping out his family back home. In that case, it’s great for him.

That’s as may be, but if you start paying Phillipino workers reduced wages, you depress wages overall. You force Aussie workers to work for less. I’m pretty sure no-one here wants that (well…maybe some of you…)

Importing labour is part of the solution for a labour shortage, but there’s no way, in good concience, it can be used to provide cheap labour.

Maelinar 2:18 pm 03 Feb 06

Living on a carefree tropical island surrounded by bountiful coral reefs, sipping on a coconut while watching the sun go down over the horizon from your hammock ?

I know where I’d rather be…

Thumper 1:39 pm 03 Feb 06

Back to the original post…

Surely $29,182 is better than the average wage in the Philippines? I’m not saying that it’s right, but f*ck a brown dog, it’s much better than the alternative.

Mr_Shab 1:30 pm 03 Feb 06

Jeeze – is it just me or has this thread turned into a drunken arguement between the Young Libs and the Greens down at the Ol’ Uni Bar. Fantastic to see how polarised things can get.

I’ll just put down my schooner and pull a stool up to your table.

I’ve gotta disagree with both of you.

Shakedown – your glib generalisations on all business people are grossly inaccurate. Most small business owners are determined to treat their workers with (at least a measure of) dignity and respect. I’ve worked for a quite a few, and I grew up in a small-business family that was instilled with this kind of ethos.

No – not all business owners are this reasonable. I, and many friends and loved ones, have worked for some downright stinking pricks. This Holy Grail business sounds pretty damn fishy to me. Though I know a former worker there, and this “revelation” doesn’t suprise me that much.

Not all bosses are out to screw their workers. Many still cling to the (increasingly outdated) view that their staff are their biggest asset. It’s very hard to for anyone but a borderline psycho to treat a worker like crap when they’re just trying to do their job. Doubly so for small business people who are in close contact with their employees, and tend to work alongside them.

It’s an almost universal fact that hard workers are appreciated wherever they go. If you don’t treat them well, they tend to leave. There will always be a job for that kind of person.

Your friends cant find work as dishpigs? What planet are you on? I can name at least four restaurants in Civic alone that are screaming for a decent underwater ceramic technician. If they only want to work weekdays up till 9pm on alternate weeks, that’s their problem. You should know you have to EARN the good shifts in hospitality. When you start you have to drag leaky bags of rubbish out to the skip at 1 in the morning in the rain while your mates are at the pub like everyone else.

And it IS hard to get staff. Ask any business in town and they’ll tell you. The shortage of labour is not an illusion caused by careful massaging of figures. I agree that the numbers of unemployed are understated, but not to anything like the levels you claim. Crassly slamming the doors in the face of overseas workers is manifestly stupid. That fruit ain’t going to pick itself, nor are those dishes going to get done on their own. Someone has to do it.

Sadly, the breed of employer that cares for its workers is dying. I’d say that’s partly a reflection on the drive for individual success over the greater good; but also as a result of government policy of deregulation, which has concentrated power in the hands of a few. A few, who sadly seem to have little scruple about treating their workers like crap.

Bonfire – not all bosses treat their workers reasonably or responsibly. In fact, it’s my experience that as companies increase in size, the easier it is for the executive to start the slippery slope of “a cut here, a cut there”, till they’re downright exploitative. Deregulation and globalisation only worsen this.

Yes – good workers will almost always prosper, and lazy, stupid bums will always be screwed…but what about the other 80-ish%? They’re the people that industrial relations laws are there for. No, some of them won’t always pull their weight, but they still need to be paid commensurately with the job they are doing. IMHO that means leave loading, overtime, 8-hour days, etc…

Globalisation has given us more money. No doubt. It has however, not spread this across the board evenly. It has concentrated wealth and power with a few. The poor aren’t as poor anymore, but they’re nowhere near as not-poor as the figures suggest they should be.

Neither of you have the answer. You’re both being unreasonable. You’re both making assumptions that don’t weigh up with reality.

Okay…fire away.

RandomGit 11:59 am 03 Feb 06

I dare say you’ll be provoked to ever-greater heights of personal nastiness the longer this goes on

It’s the best you can expect.


Maelinar 11:20 am 03 Feb 06

Bonfire, I will break my silence to enquire, am I correct in the assumption that you are involved in the theatrical field, perhaps even having received an award for best actor for your portrayal of Billy Flynn in Chicago ?

Or is that one of the many other residents of Canberra ?

bonfire 10:26 am 03 Feb 06

the length of your argument and its increasingly circular nature reminds me of the old goose maxim.

a goose has two legs, you have two legs, therefore you are a goose.

thats the sort of logic you are using.

you define globalisation, employment etc in youre terms, denying others there definitions, so you can say they are wrong.

a clever but easily identified trick.

you then display even more idiocy by providing your inspector maigret like deduction of me and all istand for and what i do to earn a crust and where i came from.

and got it completely wrong. i found it amusing though because it gives away your biases and how you define those who think that globalisation, free trade, responsible industrial relations etc are things worth defending against rabid zealots like yourself.

who believes that the end days are upon us with streets full of roaming unemployed.

you are deluded. and no amount of self defining proofs will change that.

however given careful thought i am prepared to say that a person working several hours a week coudl be considered as ‘partially employed’.

shakedown 10:30 pm 01 Feb 06

And to Midnitecalla:
I didn’t get the chance to read your post until after mine had gone up. Thanks for the Amen. And good on you for having the guts and energy to speak your mind on this (very important) issue.
All the best.

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