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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?
bonfire 11:04 am 01 Feb 06

its a pretty simple logical path.

shakedown has no work in week one and gets x dollars from the gummint.

in week two shakedown spends 6 hours flogging green left and earns $3.50.

i would consider that shakedown worked for 6 hours in week two. that employment.

he/she may not like the fact thet he/she only earnt $3.50 for selling green left and in week three move on to flogging ‘big issue’ where he/she earns $75 for 3 hours work.

in week three he/she is emplyed at a better rate and things are looking up for week four.

its simple –
you work = employed.
no work = unemployed.

you can march around singing about the red flag flying to your hearts content, but there is low unemployment and there is a skills shortage.

if you had ever tried to arrange for skilled work to be performed you would understand the frustrations in actually finding someone who can fit you in within 6-10 weeks.

‘I maintain that the ultimate goal of the government and their supporters in the business community is to erode the conditions of Australian workers by making them compete with third world workers who, for various reasons, will accept wages and conditions that Australian workers will not (at least for the present – though this may change if the globalisers get their way).’

I maintain you are full of shit. If what you contend is true, why are we experiencing low unemployment and high standards of living ? Economies evolve and change (even marx saw that) and we can stay stuck in the past or move on and adapt our workforce, economy and industries to keep ahead of the pack.

‘Globalisation is, after all, a race………….to the bottom.’

For fucks sake spare me – do you have a japanese watch on ? do you watch a korean made TV ? ever paid to watch a US made film ? ever pumped saudi crude refined in singapore into your kombi van ?

while you bleeding heart blind pinkos dance around decrying globalisation you ignore the tremendous advances in living conditions in every western style economy since the industrial revolution began.

shakedown 10:55 pm 31 Jan 06

I won’t respond in kind to the Ad Hominem tone of the first part of Mr(s?) Bonfire’s posting (does anyone in Canberra smoke crack, I wonder?).
What I will say is this:
I strongly disagree that part-time or (especially) casual employment should be placed in the same category as full-time employment. You might (or might not) be onto something, Mr(s?) Bonfire, when you claim that the ABS may “…supply breakdowns of hours worked…”. But this is hardly the point.
The point is that these “breakdowns” are never provided when unemployment statistics are announced by the media. Thus, a picture of low unemployment that is – at best – misleading is routinely presented to the Australian people, especially in the last three or four years.
This in turn creates conditions in which the lie of a “skills shortage” is generally accepted by the population, allowing the government/businesses to bring in foreign labour when these jobs could be filled by Australian workers who are outright unemployed, or, at least, “underemployed”.
I maintain that the ultimate goal of the government and their supporters in the business community is to erode the conditions of Australian workers by making them compete with third world workers who, for various reasons, will accept wages and conditions that Australian workers will not (at least for the present – though this may change if the globalisers get their way). Globalisation is, after all, a race………….to the bottom.
Can I get a Amen one more time?

PS I like the look of this:

“so you can choose not to take a job you dont like and the gummint will pay you. or shoudl i say, i will pay you via my tax dollars.”

So how much are we talking here, Mr(s?) Bonfire? Is the pay negotiable, in the same way as it would be in an individual contract? How do you propose to funnel your “tax dollars” directly to me? We really should get together to talk about this. I promise I won’t involve the union…..

seepi 8:01 pm 31 Jan 06

yes – you do get a partial payment from the if you are earning a really tiny amount. this is to support people who get work one week and not the next – so you remain in the system. Or that is how it used to work about a decade ago – you declare your earnings every fortnight, and they deduct all/most/some of the next payment.

bonfire 5:20 pm 31 Jan 06

as a person who was on the dole, i can say that if i had a few hours work a week, i would have regarded myself as ‘working’ but could do better.

simto 4:25 pm 31 Jan 06

I think we’re talking about a third category here – “under-employment”. As someone who’s never had to recieve unemployment benefits, I’m not sure – does it top up your wages if you’re being paid below what you’d be recieving if you were on full benefits?

seepi 2:03 pm 31 Jan 06

5 hours work is not emplyment really. Someone who is emplyed should have enough money to house and feed themself. 5 hours’ work isn’t going to do that. 5 hours work is what students do on weekends – casual work.

bonfire 1:09 pm 31 Jan 06

shakedown youre on crack.

if i have a job working 45 hours a week twisting balloons into animals, im employed.

if i have a job working 5 hours a week twisting balloons into animals, im employed.

naturally id be happier to work the amount of hours that kept me in martel cognac and dining at rock salt 7 days a week, but you have to make a choice.

despite your polemic its a little difficult to say that because i work 5 hours a week at a crappy job im REALLY still unemployed.

perhaps you have a point that 5 hours work a week should keep me in martel cognac or at least a roof over my head (or a key to deb foskeys office) but if i dont like my current job im free to find another.

on to ‘hidden unemployment’ – if there are jobs that are advertised and no one applys for them then how can you say that there is ‘…much-vaunted low rate of unemployment is solely attributable to the obscurantist sophistry of economists in the service of a government (in cahoots with an entirely complicit media) that is flat out lying to us’ ?

im sorry, but when i left school it was fucking tough to get a job and you took one doing anything that paid a wage until you gained skills and could move on to something you WANTED to do. sure the economy has changed and there are more mcjobs now than then, but the basic observation is still accurate. unemployment is lower now than it has been since the early 70’s.

so you can choose not to take a job you dont like and the gummint will pay you. or shoudl i say, i will pay you via my tax dollars.

i sort of object to this. im not saying you need to be chained to a fruit tree and pick peaches by order of her majesty, but surely its a nonsense to pay someone unemployment benefits when there is work available but peopel choose not to take it.

by modifying the statistical definitions, perhaps some sense is replacing ideology. im sure the abs will still supply breakdowns of hours worked etc.

im not saying people shouldnt get paid a decent wage for a days work, i am taking issue with your definition of unemployment.

if you work youre employed.

johnboy 11:31 pm 30 Jan 06


shakedown 10:59 pm 30 Jan 06

But before you give yourself over entire to a-testifyin’ and a-hollerin’ (and I know you want to), take note of this (from the ABS website):

“A fall in employment doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in unemployment (or the unemployment rate). Not all people who leave employment become unemployed – others leave the labour force altogether (for example, people retiring, or stopping work to look after children). People are considered unemployed only if they didn’t have a job at the time of the survey and they were available to work and were actively looking for work.”

I recognise that this appears to contradict my assertions (above) regarding the method by which unemployment is measured, though I stand unreservedly by the rest – and the substance – of what I said.
I think the salient – and most revealing – point raised by the ABS quote, however, is this:
the jobseekers surveyed are assessed as unemployed ONLY if they do not have (any sort of) job. Importantly, it also appears that there is NO minimum number of hours that a person needs to work in order to be classified as employed.
So, in a way, my main point re. methods used to measure unemployment statistics still stands:
ALL work, regardless of whether it is casual/part-time/full-time is evaluated equally. This was not, moreover, always the case.
Nevertheless, apologies are in order. Hope this will serve to pre-empt any criticism of my sloppy research.

shakedown 10:28 pm 30 Jan 06

NB This is rather long. But it’s an important issue, and, as such, one deserving of some attempt at a serious treatment.
“Skills shortage” huh? Hmmmm………
As far as I’m aware, the sort of jobs that the Philippino(a?) workers in question are doing could be classified, at best, as “semi-skilled”. Of course, if they’re working as kitchen hands, this classification would need to be revised downwards (on the skills scale, that is).
While I realise anecdotal evidence carries very little weight, I know a number of Australians actively seeking work as kitchenhands/chefs who find it very difficult to even persuade local employers to give them a run. Why is this, I wonder, in conditions of supposedly record low unemployment (under 5%, apparently)? I have my suspicions.
The much-vaunted low rate of unemployment is solely attributable to the obscurantist sophistry of economists in the service of a government (in cahoots with an entirely complicit media) that is flat out lying to us. Fiddling the unemployment figures, incidentally, began long before the election of the current federal government, though not perhaps to such an egregious extent. Here’s (roughly) how it works:
where a person was once considered employed if they worked a certain number of hours per week, they are now assessed as employed according to whether or not they claim social security benefits.
This means that someone working a few hours per week, in casual employment, sans benefits, and with no security of tenure and who makes just enough to render him/herself ineligible for social security benefits is now regarded as “employed” for statistical purposes in the same way that a CEO on several hundred thousand (or more!) dollars per annum is regarded as “employed”. Here’s a link (and links within links) outlining still other ingenious ways in which the unemployment statistics are fiddled:
IN REALITY, then, what we have in this country (as in many other developed countries) is a huge number of “hidden” unemployed. Many (though not – by any means – all) are (or, rather, were) semi- or unskilled workers who would once have filled exactly the kinds of jobs that the Philippino workers (and other guestworkers on visa 457) are now doing at the Holy Grail.
So why are Philippino guest workers being brought to Australia, when there are Australians who would be perfectly willing to work?
No doubt you’ve heard the conventional explanation, which is trotted out again and again, all over the (developed) world: “(insert nationality here) won’t do these kinds of jobs. They’re lazy. That’s why we need (insert third-world nationality here) to do them”.
What this really means, of course, is that citizens of developed countries have certain expectations regarding wages/conditions – which they and their forefathers and mothers have won over the course of 150 and more years of struggle – beneath the level of which they will not work. They are also, for a variety of reasons (foremost among which is that they will not be deported if they refuse to do whatever the boss commands) more likely to join unions and to organise collectively.
While, admittedly the hospitality industry has always been among the least unionised of all sectors, Australian hospitality workers, on the whole, remain less obedient and less willing to work for peanuts than third world workers whose families are often dependent on the remittances they send home, and whose continued employment is contingent upon their assumption of a “cooperative” attitude in the workplace, no matter what they are asked to do, and for what money/conditions. This is why employers prefer to import third world workers rather than support the (re-) training of the hidden Australian unemployed. And this is why employers, economists, the media, and the government are so wont, of late, to bleat about a “skills shortage”, our “aging population”, and other fictions. That’s globalisation, Brothers and Sisters!
Can I get an amen?

Mr Evil 7:57 pm 30 Jan 06

Cay? He’s from Barcelona!

dr. faustus 2:50 pm 30 Jan 06

The fact that it takes forever to actually get served at the bar at the Holy Grail (in Kingston) suggests that the non-indentured staff are pretty useless, and anyone else would be an improvement.

Move the imported workers out to the bar and the pretty girls out the back into the dish-pit. This removes any accusation of subterfuge on the part of the owner, and I get my overpriced beer more promptly. Now everyone’s happy!

justbands 12:10 pm 30 Jan 06

Ian Meldrum…no..not “the” Ian “Molly” Meldrum.

andy 9:47 am 30 Jan 06

thats still 31,000 that he wouldn’t have otherwise.
Not getting paid enough, ask for more money.
not worth more money, increase your skills to make yourself worth more money.

Jane Hansard 6:25 pm 29 Jan 06

Who owns the Holy Grail?

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