At the Chopping Block: Penalty Rates.

September 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Welcome to a new segment here at Watching Society Fall. It’s called At the Chopping Block, and it will feature things we’re going to lose under the government at the time of the article being written. Right now the government is a Liberal Government under Tony Abbott, but in the future when it changes, At the Chopping Block will continue. I side with no particular party, just whoever is trying to do wrong by me at the time. So without further ado, let’s begin with the current attack on Penalty Rates.

I chanced upon this today while browsing the internet. Wow. I didn’t expect something like this, and while I did say that things would go to the proverbial, I meant in a time period that was a bit longer than fifteen days. Fifteen days and what are we facing? A campaign to lose our penalty rates. For those unable or unwilling to click on the link before, I’ll sum it up for you; retailers are pressing to have penalty rates cut or even completely removed, citing that they are ‘old fashioned’ and are ‘damaging profits’.

“Business groups tried to use Fair Work Australia to cut penalty rates earlier this year but were knocked back,

because they could produce no reliable evidence that they cost jobs.” – ACTU President Ged Kearney

Now we’re hearing about WorkChoices again. That little personalized contract people can be encouraged to sign that waives basic employee relations laws and EBA’s. Should their attack on penalty rates fail, WorkChoices could very well be their backup plan to cheapen the cost of Australian labour.

The ‘big’ retailers are pushing for this. Who is to say what’s ‘big’? Coles-Myer? Woolworths? In the video we see Gerry Harvey, the Executive Chairman of Harvey Norman, speaking in support of the penalty cuts, claiming that the Sunday rates are too high for what the staff are doing. Bernie Brookes, the Myer CEO is the same. In the video we see Dymocks and Myer as main supporters of cutting rates. Of course Dymocks is supporting it; the book retail industry is taking a beating from the likes of Amazon and online sales. Don’t forget how Angus & Robertson and Borders shut down. Dymocks narrowly missed out on following the same path. And while Myer is the store shown, Coles-Myer is a big group. Coles, K-mart, Liquorland, Officeworks.

So if you work weekends, public holidays, nights or early mornings, you might be in for some damage to the pay packet. Do you work non-standard hours because it suits you to do so, or do you work those hours because the pay is better? I, like many Australians, have to work un-sociable hours in order to receive more than mere subsistence. Spending up to twelve hours a day out the door but only getting paid for nine because I don’t get paid travel to work.

Retail workers don’t get paid very well as it is, but now their overtime rates are facing the axe? Some workers need penalty rates to survive. This goes far beyond working ‘unsociable hours’, which are already a big enough pain, but recent studies have shown that shift work increases your risk of obesity, heart conditions and stomach problems. Not to mention chronic fatigue leading to mental and emotional breakdowns, as well as damage to one’s family and social lives. It’s a rare person who can naturally work a night shift without causing severe health complications. More can be found at this link to the BetterHealth channel website, courtesy of the Victorian government.

Big retailers are pushing to cut your penalty rates. It will not end there. It will carry over to smaller retailers, then it’ll spread to other businesses. The people need to be made aware of this, because it is the Australian general public who will suffer for this. Teenagers, young adults, single parents, even parents in the middle class who need a second job to survive. We are all in this together, because we will all be affected. Those who won’t? People on six figure salaries in their ivory towers who are looking to find a way to reduce their expenditure and make a quick buck.

Raise awareness of this before it can be made a reality. We all need to stand up and support our shift-workers. Remember, none of us are as strong as all of us.

Election Reaction

September 7, 2013 1 comment

The news came in around 6pm tonight. Liberal victory, Tony Abbot as Prime Minister. Good job, idiots, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Nice things like marriage equality. Some of my closest friends must continue to be treated like second-class citizens. Things like the National Broadband Network. Labour ploy for votes? Maybe, but now we’ll not know. Australia has an internet infrastructure that is surpassed by third-world countries in South-East Asia. The Liberals plan is expensive and inadequate. This country is being, and will continue to be left behind in terms of science and technology, once fields we led the way in. Teachers and hospital staff, all facing the shaft. You know, only things you need. Education and medicine should never be on the chopping block.

In the United States, back in the 1920s, I believe, there was going to be an addition made to the constitution: If the United States would enter a war, the people would have to take a vote, country-wide. Anyone who voted “yes” would get drafted into the armed forces under this scheme. What a brilliant idea! What if people who voted, say, for some xenophobe who threatened the livelihoods of teachers and doctors, weren’t allowed to enter into the public health system, or public school system? A bit brutal. But fair, in the real sense of the word ‘fair’.

I’m not going to go on a spiel about how Australians are stupid and forgot that the global economy took a pummelling and that under a Labour government we actually did fairly well to avoid a recession, because the gods forbid that Australians have the obvious pointed out to them. No, things are bad and it’s the government’s fault. Obviously. And the people on boats! What about the Plane People? What about honest refugees whose lives were measured in days, their children sold into slavery? Are we that cruel to deny people aid? Sure, if they immigrate and act up, load them back onto a plane and get rid of them; at their expense.

But enough of that. I’m going to tell you what will happen. The Liberals will do as they will, and yeah, the common people will get the shaft while rich people get it easy. Public health and school systems will take a beating. But the boat people will… probably still be coming and very little done about it. There’ll be the occasional protest against more draconian policies, such as the resurgent Internet Filter. There’ll be petitions for a better broadband plan and there’ll be gay pride parades and protests and petitions about gay marriage equality. Sometimes.

But Australia will sit back and take the shaft because we’re a country filled with apathetic racists who tolerate whatever is done to them. I’ve known people to have to work on their wedding day. To not have any paid leave after their child is born. To work, day in, day out, thirteen out of fourteen days in a fortnight to be able to live comfortably. Let alone the people who work seven days a week just to get by. And Australians will put up with it. Because that’s how it is. We live in a culture that trains people in ignorance, to attack individuality and to lack initiative. Because why go out of your way and actually do a job that serves the community, and struggle to get by, when you can swing a hammer and dig holes for double the pay?

That’s the country we live in. And the Australian people will deal with it, on the whole. Some special interest groups will rally and do what they can, but they won’t get the support they desperately need, because of the average Australian, who is basically the worst part about this country. Strap in, lube up and enjoy the ride, folks. Things aren’t likely to get any better for any of us, and the only people we have to blame are ourselves for taking this shit.

So what can you do, oh Australian resident or citizen who doesn’t like what’s going on? You can get in touch with your local representatives. You can write to newspapers. You can join and support special interest groups and make this country a country worth living in! The type of socially progressive country our children deserve. But what will you do? Nothing. You’ll drink your beer, watch your television and whine about things that were completely within your power to prevent, but were blinded by ignorance and racism.

My response to this election? Mostly one of rage. Not to the politicians but to the people who voted for them. And when the country goes to shit, I’ll laugh, and say I told you so. But if they do well, I’ll laugh and apologize for doubting the Liberal government.

The BottleBlog

March 8, 2011 1 comment

Having made casual reference to a new job in my last post, I was told that the job would make an interesting piece of subject matter for Someone Wicked, dealing with society on the front lines; suburban liquor store.

But I’ve gone a step further, and have created the BottleBlog, straight from my workplace to your screens. A personal view of a particular side of society with someone from particular views on it. Enjoy.

“Thank You For Choosing Transperth”. My ass.

December 29, 2010 3 comments

My apologies for the lack of updates in the past months.

So recently I had the joyous experience of travelling on the Transperth rail system. Groovy. Oh the fun of the hustle and bustle of being forced into close-quarters with people going about their lives, and a few whose next steps in the path of life had damn well better involve a shower…

Travelling on public transport is a good reminder that you’re not alone in the world, but at the same time you do have that moment where you view the world with contempt and a few may even mentally use the words ‘drones’. Some people do look like they have no personality, don’t they? Which is amazingly untrue, it’s just a shame that some jobs require suits and uniforms and such. If you haven’t noticed by now, or if you’re newly exposed to my rantings, I don’t really like the forced aesthetic uniformity that so many employers look for…

So anyway I was on the train at around 9PM, and I was on the way to a friend’s house for a relaxing evening, when I received a message that I’d have to go further on the train than I originally thought. And here I was faced with a conundrum; I did not have the correct ticket required to get to my new destination. A thought flickers through my mind; ‘if I get off the train, there’ll be nobody around, no guards, barely any lighting and an hour’s wait for the next train’.

There’s not a word in earthly languages to describe my thoughts on this, so I will summarise: Fuck that.

Travelling on buses trains is a risky business as it is, especially when it comes to safety, don’t even mention reliability, comfort or punctuality… So I decide to stay on the train, for my piece of mind, safety, and for the safety of my girlfriend who was travelling with me. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but two minutes later, but who do I spy, with my twitchy left eye?

Only the illustrious lads known as Transperth Revenue Protection. Or, as they’d prefer to be called, Train “Guards”. Yes. Never around when you want them though. That’s not usually their fault, people usually only misbehave when authority figures aren’t around. That’s really a human condition issue, or if you want to make it Transperth’s fault, a bureaucracy issue; there should be enough guards to have them on every station and train to really have that image of “safety” that they like to flaunt.

Next thing I know, I’m being issued a fine. Yay. Bad enough that they doubled their minimum fines a few years ago, might I add. A fine for choosing safety over their moneygrabbing? Hmm… okay. Seeing as I am so nice I explain my predicament to the guard, who to my amazement, actually understands and responds in understandable English.* But nonetheless, I am fined and he says to go down and explain the situation to their staff and it may even get withdrawn. Yay.

So I do just that. I go down to their “customer service centre” or whatever the hell they call it, and fill out a form explaining the problem at hand the same I have here, minus the cursing, pop culture references, song lyrics and loquaciousness I use in these posts. I had to keep it short and sweet, because that’s what you’re meant to do when filling out incident reports. Also because I don’t credit their staff with overmuch intelligence, nor the company for wanting to issue them with the correct dictionaries and thesauruses required to understand my profuse verbiage.

Today I received a letter from the Public Transport Authority, letting me know that the concern for my own safety wasn’t really enough reason to withdraw the fine. Hmph. I guess without fear of assault charges they don’t really withdraw these things.**

And what are all these encounters punctuated with? “Thank you for choosing Transperth”. Like any of us would if we had half a choice in the matter. Give us another rail and bus system and you could guarantee that Transperth would lose a large amount of customers. Unless the newcomer was somehow less competent than the incumbent rail system, which I can really only see happening if they wanted to fail.

I’m starting to wonder what I’m pissed off about though. Is it just the fine, or is it the fact they’re so caught up in moneygrubbing and “revenue protecting” that they didn’t withdraw it, even if my objection to the fine is due to safety issues? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them, on the comments section, or on Facebook.

 

For newcomers and folk who haven’t checked the “About Someone Wicked” page, we do have a Facebook Group, as well as the Wicked One himself being on Facebook. Find him as William Kaede.

* – Disclaimer – I am by no means racist, nor discriminatory against people that can’t speak English. Quite the contrary, I’ve been known to throw racists out of my workplace. I just don’t think people who can’t easily communicate with others should be put into a customer service role or any other job where they’re forced to converse with the populace, such as security or train guarding.

** – I have been fined before, but it was withdrawn for two reasons; their bus driver gave me the wrong ticket in the wrong zone, and the train guard literally grabbed me at the station when I was passing through. The thinly veiled threat of assault charge worked wonders in that case.

We Are All of Us

April 13, 2010 1 comment

Each and every one of us is a walking universe; a chaotic yet orderly mass of contradiction. Everything is based upon situation, context and perception. We are all special and unique in our own ways, and some moreso than others. And while we may judge a first glance based on appearance, true understanding of a person, including ourselves, can reveal the very simplest truth is that no one human being can ever be a pure anything.

Every one of us has the potential to be, if they aren’t already, an exception to a rule. Ranging from simpler, widely-believed social stereotypes to the intricacies of subcultures, nobody can ever completely subscribe to a label or stereotype. For everyone is subject to the sensitivity of context and can never be summed up by something as simple as a word.

I’ve seen saints become sinners and the blind become seers, if only situationally. The most open-minded individual can be a closed-minded bigot in situations and their own ways. I have seen surprising insight and creativity from an illiterate person. Not only is a human being subject to contradicting themself, but also very able to contradict your perceptions and assumptions of them.

We don’t always think of other people as human. We’ve all had that moment where we wonder if we’re the only person who thinks, or feels, or knows, in the way that you do. We all think, we all feel, we are all individual universes unto themselves. We dehumanise strangers and antagonists in our life, whether by impulse or conscious arrogance. I can assure you, that no matter what someone else looks like, or how you perceive them, that they are just as human as you. Because that’s what they are.

Stereotypes, while having a basis of truth in some aspects, are made redundant by any knowledge of a person. We apply these things to strangers and people we’ve just met; judgements borne of unknowing, and defend our friends and family from them. And there have been some people who perfectly fit stereotypes at a time, they will always have a side to them that completely contradicts it.

To me, there are absolutely no absolutes, and I go one step further from saying that the world, and people in it, are not black and white but shades of grey. No, the world is the entire spectrum of every colour, and more, than the human eye can perceive. The world is as bright and varied as you choose to make it; from the black and white of a closed mind, to the entire spectrum of awareness that the truly insightful can achieve.

Each person in this world was once a one-in-millions chance to become one of the seven billion human beings living on this great blue earth of ours. We are all special and unique like everyone else; ever fluctuating messes of contradiction, hypocrisy and emotion.

And to me, these paragraphs can be summed up in a singular, solitary sentence that means so much more than words could describe, simplicity belying the truth. We are all special and unique; we are all human, just like you.

This post was inspired by This Piece of Work on DeviantArt.

Our Global Image

March 30, 2010 3 comments

Every country has an international stereotype that is often over-blown exaggerations of a particular characteristic. Whether it’s the angry Italian, the snooty Frenchman, the loud American, the drunken Irishman, or the sleepy Mexican, these stereotypes are at the forefront of racism and international profiling. As for Australians… thanks to the Aussie fad of the 1980s, started by Crocodile Dundee, the Australian stereotype has pretty much been a friendly, laid back kinda dude who may or may not wrestle gigantic reptiles while drinking oversized cans of Fosters.

But in more recent times, with the advent of the global community known as the Internet, word has spread and I no longer think this is the case. With a certain ignorant bigot in an underserved position of power, preventing us from having a R18+ rating for videogames, we were the butt of jokes on the internet. Next came the Banning of Small Breasts scandal and the hilarity continued. New internet tags appeared, like “Not Safe for Australia” when referring to content with small-breasted women.

And then with the advent of the Australian Internet Filter, despite protests and campaigns dedicated to spreading the word of this injustice, Australians have shown their true colours to their countrymen and the world; apathetic ignorance. Choosing to just not care about something which affects their daily life more than they realise. The internet filter affects all of us, ranging from the most basic internet use (Facebook, Youtube, schoolwork) to the most avid of cybersurfers.

But no, the population seem to have chosen to just kind of ignore this and hopes that it goes away, in what is being proven to be the true Aussie spirit. And thanks to this pathetic example, it seems that the anti-censorship movements, myself included, have been proven right; we were the test-run. Testing the waters to see how populations react to censorship like this. Now the European Union is going to implement a mandatory filter, and are hiding behind the same guise of ‘protecting the children’ that the Australian government have.

Google, Microsoft and even President Obama himself have been highly vocal against the Rudd Government’s proposed Internet Filter. And after a few TV spots with Minister Conroy, who has repeatedly proved his incompetence, the Australian people still refuse to look into this. It’s highly disappointing. How stupid, how ignorant can a sizeable majority of a westernised country be to not understand the threat this poses? This is the worst example of censorship seen in a Western country since the rise of the Nazi Party pre-WW2.

I have this to say. A warning to the European Union. Be prepared. Just because Australia took this laying down, does not mean that your people will. Europeans, do what you can. Spread the word. This is happening here, and you’re next. Americans will be facing the same problem if a Republican makes it to the White House in2012. Internet Censorship is going to happen all over the world and when it’s over, regardless off what happens, people will look back and say; “it started in Australia. It’s their fault.”

No Chance and No Future

March 27, 2010 3 comments

I’ll spare the lengthy introduction, the fancy wordplay and the extensive rant and put it to you simply; it is a very difficult task to find a job right now. There’s three particular groups of folk who employers want at the moment; kids who are under 18, experienced workers over 25, or foreigners who’ll work maximim hours for minimum wage.

I am none of the above. And that has made it virtually impossible for me to get a job where I don’t run the risk of losing my position to one of the above categories. I have more-or-less approaching the point where I am ready to buckle under and take a crap job with worse pay, if only because it’s my only alternative to joblessness.

A lot of places, specifically in the computing / IT industry, demand a minimum of three years’ experience. Experience that I can’t get because there’s no jobs available in the industry that don’t require that experience. And it’s horrendously aggravating to get a job, even at McDonalds, because I’m over 18 and thus actually have to be paid adult wages.

It’s not just affecting me. So many people out there are jobless, or being forced into terrible jobs that have no career options because of the latest trends. How are we supposed to gain experience without being given a chance? That’s all I want, and that’s all so many other people want; a chance.

Job-hunting is a painful endeavour at the best of times. I’m a certified computer repairer as well as trained in IT. Five years ago, advertising everywhere was saying that these were two avenues that would lead to long-lasting, highly paid careers. It’s gotten to the point where I put the donate button up on the website in the hope that it’ll provide additional funding for the continuance of SomeoneWicked as a registered domain as well as attending to my cost-of-living.

Australia, you keep preaching about giving people a fair go. Where’s our chance? Where’s the fair go for Australians who need work? It’s as I said. We’re not being given one. We have no chance, and without that chance, we have no future.

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