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Jobs-sack! What you've got to lose

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Dear John

You have stumbled again. If what you get is what you keep - why change?

Simple question Mr Howard - "If you want to make sure people keep their benefits why don't you let them keep their Award and retain access to the Australian Industrial Relations . Commission?"

Say "yes" to that and you'll be honest: they will have real rights and tried and true protection.

Mr Howard, your Statement of yesterday is the sort of thing that gives politicians a bad name. It is very close to deceitful.

Your policy ends Awards and access to the AIRC immediately for those workers whose employer doesn't agree to return to awards. The individual employee then has to negotiate an individual work contract.

The individual cannot have recourse to the umpire - the AIRC - to ensure fairness unless the employer agrees.

And you say that is "negotiation".

Mr Howard that's a loaded dice. Loaded against the individual.

Even assuming 'negotiation' does occur, why should Australians be made to jump through that hoop to obtain a real right they now enjoy, and have enjoyed for nearly a century?

Mr Howard, your policy is just too smart by half. You can't write the rules to continue the denial of a right (ie access to the AIRC) and then say it is for 'negotiation'.

But it is worse. You know Australians cherish their Awards and the protection they offer. Awards are of course legally, "orders of the Commission" - the umpire.

When you deny the Commission, by extension you deny Awards.







The way you say "Awards" is a deceit. Why do you never ever answer the question, "what right does the individual worker have if he or she is threatened with a below Award conditions work contract or the sack"?

Your policy inspires that approach. Your rhetoric encourages it.

But you never acknowledge the possibility at all. It was not mentioned in your release yesterday. Why? You know the answer is that this is precisely how the policy is meant to drive wages down.

Instead you deny reality. That is why your Statement, (Pg2 of your release) - "In most cases, the minima will be irrelevant, since employees would not consent to enter into a workplace agreement which did not improve their wages and conditions" -

is deceitful.

Up in the top office, on their own, with the employer and being told the choice is the 'contract or the sack' you can't say an employee wouldn't be blackmailed. Not consenting means unemployment in this case.

That is why the Government upholds the Commission and its Awards - so people have protection, dignity and rights.

And don't say I'm being dramatic. Your policy requires each employer and each employee to actually sit down together and make a contract and sign it.

Mr Howard, don't even try on youth wages. Young people see through you completely and they don't like it one little bit.

There is no protection for young workers in your policy at all, and no training opportunities either.

Your youth wage is a poverty wage, ours is a safety net.

I '11 publish shortly the usual point by point exposure of your press release, in the meantime, a word of advice; drop it.

You can't fool all the people all the time. Jeff Kennett has exposed your model. Your backbench are restive that you haven't owned up and more openly supported him. You did only a week or two ago, "give or take a comma or two," Kennett's policy is the same as yours.

Sadly for you, you have a nickname - "Honest John". I used to think it was meant to indicate you were a straight shooter. It can now only contain all the irony meant when "Honest" is used as prefix to the name of a snake oil salesman.

Yours sincerely

Peter Cook