And so it goes on and on

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Sitting duck.

More evidence of systematic exploitation of workers: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/

Businesses have been forced to pay back almost half a million dollars to 616 workers following Fair Work ombudsman audits of the hospitality industry in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane that found 72% of businesses had breached workplace laws.

Fair Work inspectors visited 243 businesses on Victoria Street in Melbourne’s Richmond, Glebe Point Road in Sydney’s Glebe and at Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. They interviewed staff and checked employment records, issuing 71 on-the-spot fines and 63 formal cautions, and finding workers were owed $471,904.

Of the businesses found in breach of workplace laws, 38% underpaid their staff, while 28% failed to keep adequate employment records and pay slips. Failure to pay overtime or to give staff adequate meal breaks were other common issues.

And https://www.watoday.com.au/  (Sunday 15 July)

“Research, including our own, shows that it is widespread and entrenched, particularly involving vulnerable temporary migrant workers in small businesses.”  Widespread and entrenched!

The authors: Dr Stephen Clibborn and Dr Chris F Wright are from the University of Sydney Business School. This article is based on their article in the current issue of Economic and Labour Relations Review: Employer theft of temporary migrant workers’ wages in Australia: Why has the state failed to act?

They offer solutions, the first of which is to increase the resources of the Fair Work Ombudsman. The government says they have increased the office’s funding by $20m, but the authors say they can find little evidence of this $20m.

Second, instead of demonising unions, make them part of the solution. Australia used to have an effective minimum wage enforcement regime, relying on joint regulation by unions and the state, in the context of permanent migration. High membership coverage and relatively free right to enter workplaces gave unions knowledge of employer non-compliance and opportunity to address it. Employers were deterred from underpaying wages given the high risk of detection.

Unions now have little role as enforcers. They have virtually zero presence in workplaces in low-wage industries given their diminished membership. Having lost their formal role as joint regulators they also have limited rights to enter workplaces. Restoring some of these rights and empowering workers to speak up could significantly address the widespread problem of underpayment.

What have I been saying?  This right wing government, ever the friend of business, found plenty of money to run a Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption (nicely prejudging the issue), which found very little evidence against unions.

Yet here is pile after pile of evidence of business corruption (and we haven’t even begun to see the mountain of corruption that is Australian business), and the government takes virtually no action. I wonder why?  Could it be the well paid directorships and board places awaiting retired Liberal and National Party politicians?

 

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Eureka

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I finally found it!

About four years ago I bought a cheap smart phone, an HTC Desire model, and used it for a while, but became increasingly frustrated and bamboozled by my first encounter with Android.

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Then I lost it. I searched for a couple of weeks but had to give up and bought what I thought was a better one, a low priced Sony Experia. (That was a dog too, slow as a wet week. I replaced it last year with a OnePlus 3T, a revelation.)

Then in about 2016(?) I found my HTC, down in the front seat gap in my car. Bewdy, I thought. But then I put it somewhere and lost it again. Duh! I searched everywhere but couldn’t find it.

Then yesterday I was looking through various travel bags in my wardrobe and looked in a side pocket of one. Bingo, there was my HTC phone.

It works too. An hour of charging brought it up to 60% and all my phone book numbers and addresses are still there, and records of the last calls I made in 2015. There’s a SIM card in it, but it doesn’t work. Maybe I can get it reactivated.

It seems fast enough and now that I’m used to Android, it’s usable. It’s also very light and smaller, so maybe I should use it for travel. But maybe I should just lose it again.

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More evidence of employee exploitation, this time from today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

“The restaurant empire fronted by celebrity chef Neil Perry is saving millions of dollars a year from unpaid wages, with senior managers and chefs saying its profits are based on the systemic exploitation of workers.
“Overwhelming new evidence from current and former employees of Rockpool Dining Group includes hundreds of pages of leaked company documents, rosters and records of pay and hours.
“All point to the group’s dependence on extensive unpaid work by permanent skilled chefs and managers who are often migrants.”

And yesterday in Perth, the Ku De Ta prestige restaurant’s staff have walked out en-masse due to non-payment of wages. ( watoday.com.au )

So continues the pattern of businesses trying to exploit their employees, ignoring industrial awards and taking advantage of migrants and the vulnerable. The 7-Eleven scandal showed the way, exploiting mainly Indian and Asian part time workers on student visas who were too afraid to complain.

So much for John Howard’s warm and comfortable view of management-staff relations. So much for employees thinking they have no need for unions.

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I forgot to mention that I had my driver’s side window regulator (electric winder) replaced by a dealer, Wanneroo Mitsubishi, a couple of weeks ago after I obtained a non-genuine part, and it went off without a problem. They said it would be two hours, but it was all done in a bit over an hour. (They still charged me the full amount for labour, though.)

It sounds smoother than before and so far doesn’t leak, so that’s fixed. All up it cost $319, not cheap, but it should last another 17 years. 🙂

Next failure has been my Panasonic 4K BluRay HDD video recorder. Last night I found it won’t read any disc I put in. It’s only 8 months old, so that’s disappointing, but at least it’s still under warranty. It will have to be sent away, though, and there are many hours of programs on the hard drive that I don’t want to lose.

However, I’ve noticed that I can see the recorder as a network disc drive on my laptop, so maybe I’ll be able to record the programs over the wi-fi connection to DVDs. It would be hours of work, though. Ugh.

And speaking of wi-fi, for the past two nights I’ve been unable to use Netflix. It was working on Thursday night but now just won’t play any programs, saying “Problem, try again later.” Maybe the networks are overloaded by the World Cup games? I’ll try it again now. Nope, still faulty today, Sunday. I’ve run the diagnostics they give and my end passes, 15Mb/s network speed, so I’ll have to contact them. Dammit.

And as I suspected, ordinary DVDs play OK on the recorder, but not BluRays and 4Ks. That figures, there are separate lasers and the short wavelength one is not working. Dammit again.

I’ve already got my Pioneer BluRay player on the bench with what looks like a faulty laser, so that makes two waiting now. Plus with my Sharp Minidisc unit on the bench with a disc stuck in the drive, my work is scheduled. Thank goodness for the internet and eBay. Getting parts like replacement lasers (and instructions to fit them) would have been near impossible 20 years ago, but it should be easy now. I hope.

PS: I also have Netflix access on my TV, so I tried it and it’s working fine. That means my wi-fi network and internet connection are OK, so the fault must be in the Panasonic recorder. Two faults at the same time. Huh. Do I have time to return it for warranty service before I go away? Looks like I’ll have to.

PPS: It’s all working again. I thought I’d try a reinitialisation of the recorder. When you do it in the “Advanced” menu, nothing seems to happen and the problem was still there.

But next time I powered it on, it seemed to take a little longer and the BluRay and Netflix problems have gone away. And all my settings (channel tuning, favourites etc) remained. Great. Let’s hope it stays fixed. But why did it go wrong?

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Aaaarrrgh, now Word Press won’t save or publish what I’ve written, or show me any more than a handful of my saved images. What’s going on?!

OK, I previewed it and now it works. Huh.

PS: I forgot to mention, for the past month or so, I can’t stay logged in. I have to log in with user name and password every time i want to write or edit. Very annoying! Have they changed something? It occurs on both my desktop (Win7) and laptop (Win10), so it doesn’t seem to be anything at my end. Grrr.

Byoot day

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Happy ladies on a fine day in Japan   (C) PJ Croft 2018

Wow, haven’t we had some rain? It’s excellent when it’s not too windy. It was a bit nasty yesterday, but today, expecting it to be cool, I wore a T-shirt under my pullover and it felt too warm by mid afternoon. Very nice day.

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I had a doctor appointment to see the results of my 6-monthly blood tests and everything was fine (liver, kidneys, cholesterol etc), but very pleasingly, my HbA1c has come down from 8.4 in March to 7.6 now. That’s a big improvement.

We wondered why and talked a lot about diet, but the real reason only occurred to me later: sleep. Last year and earlier this year I was plagued by insomnia, as I said here ad nauseum.

But after stopping Tramadol (foot pain relief) and changing another med from before bed to morning, I’m back to sleeping normally again. I still have a few very light sleep nights, but in general I drop off quickly and sleep well.

It’s my opinion that this would account for the improved blood sugar control. I’ve emailed the GP to tell him and said, “Forget darkened room, forget milk before bed, forget shutting off the TV two hours before bed, forget stopping blue light from screens – think medications.” It worked for me and I am very relieved to be free of that insomnia!

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Japanese signage   (C) PJ Croft 2018

I’ve had a letter in the post informing me that the Home and Community Care service, HACC, has had its name changed to Commonwealth Home Support Programme, CHSP.

Here’s yet another government change of name that will require all new stationery, signage and IT changes, at great expense. As my provider says, it means no change for me, just the new name. So why change? It’s hang the expense, obviously, in government.

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Notice the –mme on the end of programme above. Many years ago we at Channel 7 were informed that Australian TV policy was to drop the –mme and just make it program. Despite being a paid up member of the Society of Pedants, I agreed with that change.

Also, in the paragraph above, notice the word stationery, distinct from its homonym stationary. I’ve never had trouble deciding which to use: stationery has the -e-, as in letters, while stationary has the -a- as in car. Simple.

Yet, with my pedant’s cap on, I gently ventured to correct my favourite photography blogger Mike Johnson ( http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com ) when he confused the two.

To my surprise, he mentioned my chiding in the blog and said in all his years of writing articles and editing magazines, he had never heard of that rule before, and thanked me for telling him. I was very gratified as he is a very literate and erudite writer.

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Restaurant, Japan   (C) PJ Croft 2018

Day after day, week after week, month after month, news article after article is appearing exposing companies which are exploiting their lower paid staff. Usually it is vulnerable employees who don’t have any bargaining power, being on various visas or work permits.

In the 1970s, ’80s and 90s we were bombarded with anti-union rhetoric by employers and the Liberal governments. In particular, this was the time of enterprise bargaining and attempts to get employees away from collective bargaining (i.e. union driven awards) and into individual “bargaining” between employees and employers. We were constantly informed that this would result in better wages and conditions for employees. John Howard, in particular, assured wages employees that negotiating one-on-one with managers would be a happy experience for both.

Look at it now, 20 years on. Union membership has fallen to about 10% (for reasons I’ve discussed before), but wages have utterly stalled for the past decade, in fact going backwards. The employers have not had to bargain with unions, so they are quite content to do nothing. At the same time, many, many employers are very happy to exploit employees as much as they can get away with. The only thing that stops them is the odd union member who complains.

Sure, it’s a minority of employers who do this, but how come we keep hearing about it?

And how come wages have stalled and gone backwards? Where’s the happy, cooperative attitude we were promised. It was bullshit across the board. The aim was to divide and conquer, and that’s what’s happened. Employment hasn’t boomed. The constant mantra is that employers need experience and qualifications, but they haven’t done anything to provide the apprenticeships or traineeships to enable people to gain the qualifications and get the experience. An apprenticeship is about five years, and from my own experience and observations during my working years, that’s what it took to get a self confident guy who could be left largely unsupervised.

I spit!

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Off to school, Japan.  (C) PJ Croft 2018

So, have you noticed? So. It’s the latest cliche. Everyone begins speaking with “So”. It’s driving me, y’know, nuts! Y’know?