We don’t need no unions

_IMG0391 fixedIn the previous post I talked about the 7-11 story without knowing the full details.

After seeing the Four Corners program on Sunday night (actually I recorded it and watched it yesterday afternoon), I’ve realised it’s even worse than I thought. As they say in the documentary, nearly all 7-11 franchisees were underpaying their mostly foreign student staff and telling them if they reported it or made any complaint, they would be reported to the Dept of Immigration. That would have meant loss of their job but also cancellation of their student visa and deportation.

The entire business model for 7-11 depends on underpaying their staff. If they paid proper wages, there would be no 7-11 businesses. But there have always been convenience stores like 7-11s, but paying proper Australian Award wages. If 7-11s ceased trading entirely, something else would fill their place, without needing to exploit staff. I’m sure they wouldn’t be open 24 hours, but so what? How many people really, truly need to buy simple things at 3am or 4am? (Interesting that the map shows there are only seven 7-11s in WA, compared with over 200 in Sydney.)

The result is thousands of foreign students are (present tense, because it’s still going on) being forced to work in slave-like conditions. Working days of up to 14-16 hours, no meal breaks, no sick leave or annual leave, no public holidays, no superannuation.

The employees would be covered by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Trades union but they are too afraid to speak out. The union knows of the practices, but can’t get evidence to take action.

This is a particularly severe case, but there’s hardly a week goes by without news of some exploitation of employees in this country. Four Corners even said that this is the second program this year that they’ve devoted to showing gross exploitation of workers.

So don’t try and tell me that employers have their workforce at heart and unions aren’t needed.


First day of spring yesterday and snow on the Porongorup Range. Minimum temperature this morning  2.8 degrees. Brrr. But I’m sitting here in just a T-shirt, with no heating. It’s not too bad.

More worrying is the ABC News story about the water supply at Denmark on WA’s south coast (west of Albany). They are running out of water. One of the locals said he noticed it in the 1970s, the reduction in rainfall, and it’s continued to now.

I agree. I remember going to Britain in about August 1977 (work training courses) and telling the local Brits that WA had gone through our last summer with 100 days without any rain whatever. I also noticed, that year, how dry our winter was compared to previous years. That was the start of the shift in climate in WA, in my opinion.

Right now I’m noticing how mild our winter has been. Where’s the wind? Day after day after day is still, calm. WA used to be regarded as one of the windiest places. We got regular winter storms and tempests. I used to need to rug up in bed. We got minima of down to zero degrees. Now I just use one blanket and the quilt cover without any quilt inside it. Another blanket on top, but often I throw it off.

But now — well below average rainfall, month after month, record dry spells, no wind, very few storms. Our climate has really, truly changed here in the last 40 years and it’s accelerating.


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