Bunker bulldust day 189

Grandma Croft, me, late 1964. And the beloved EH Holden.

Wow, quick change in the season. It’s 21C but I feel warm enough to consider running the fan. Very comfortable.

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I’ve been to see a lawyer this morning to update my will. He was strictly business, no warmth, no interest in anything I had to say in a personal sense, no interest in a photo I showed him. That will be $445 please, for half an hour. Standard fee. He also has to spend time rewriting the will of course, but crikey, money seems to be flowing out the door lately.

My will is lodged with a firm of accountants in St Geo. Tce in Perth, who monitor deaths and I presumed, would act as my executors. But this lawyer said, “How do you know that? I see nothing in these letters that says so.” Oh. So I need to contact them and clarify this.

Plus I definitely need to organise an Enduring Power of Attorney. I used to have one but changed my mind. Gotta get on it. I have a friend who also needs to do his, so I’ll swap him.

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It turns out that I have 38 followers of this blog, that’s those who have actually signed on with the button, so I thank you all most kindly. You’re spread all over the world and I do not know a single one of you personally. I know I have at least two other readers as well. Welcome and thanks again.

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Me, Grandma, brother, Mum 1964

Oh yeah, I had the plumber here on Wednesday for the toilet. Damn, he had it unblocked within 10 seconds! It’s all in having the right tool for the job. He just used a plunger but his was a relatively small rubber head (maybe 15cm diameter) on the end of a flexible but stiff rod about 20cm attaching to a long wooden pole. Half fill the bowl with water, RAM, RAM and it was done. Bloody ‘ell. So easy when you know how to do it.

So then I put him onto reseating the U-bend under the basin. I thought it would require a new one and I’d actually bought one but I couldn’t make it fit. “Yair,” he said, “A Bunnings special. Useless.” I agree, it was a waste of $11.90. Maybe I can give it to the Salvos.

All up, he was here for 25 mins but the minimum charge is for 1 hour at $140. Damn! Why should this be allowed? Anyway, it’s done now.

I discussed replacing the complete pan and cistern and the charge is two hours labour, about $300 plus the cost of the suite, about $500 – 600. I’m thinking, don’t be silly. You don’t need it. Spend the money on getting the front door repainted and the patio decking stripped back and revarnished. And all the myriad other jobs that need doing.

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At the start of the pandemic, the government and Workplace Relations Minister Christian Porter said they would work with the ACTU in a spirit of cooperation to explore ways of improving workplace relations. Sally McManus explicitly said the ACTU was prepared to be open minded and open handed on ways to make improvements, provided workers were not left worse off.

A couple of days ago I heard her interviewed on radio saying the government and employers had reverted to type and these talks had broken down. Liberal ideology rules.

Today she says: “It has become obvious that a number of employer lobby groups no longer wish to respect this process or engage in good faith.

“Throughout, some employer lobby groups have come to this process not wanting to reach common ground and advance the national interest.

“Instead, they want to use the opportunity to undermine working people’s rights at a time of unprecedented national crisis.”

This tallies with my experience in 1996. We, the ACTU and unions had the opportunity to revise and modernise the award classifications.

I and an advisor spent months devising a new classification scale which met all the requirements of the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework) and ASF (Australian Standards Framework) and was very innovative. It brought everything up to date. It was right!

This was one page of three, representing Engineering, Production and Operations.

We presented it in face to face meetings with the station employer representatives as a proposal.

The result was that the employers stonewalled: no classifications were obsolete, according to them, nothing needed to be improved. All they did was string out the meetings until we could not bear the cost and it was obvious no progress was possible.

In one meeting, when we were trying to relate the new classifications to pay scales, I especially remember one small time manager from a country station exclaiming, “I wish we could get ’em all down there”, meaning a lower pay rate. What a wonderful attitude, but typical of my experience with workplace relations. And he was probably one of those low paid employees once.

In October 1996 (while I was working in Jakarta) the ACTU sent me a list of more than 100 questions posed by the employers. It was obvious that they either did not understand much of the proposal or assumed that we were fixed and rigid. All we were doing was presenting it as a starting point for discussion. They weren’t interested. All they wanted to do was fend us off.

From that time on, I abandoned any thoughts of cooperation and vowed that I would be as militant as the employers were. My experience was that employers showed bad faith, could not be trusted and were only interested in keeping wages low (and they were low! – poverty line low) and downgrading conditions. One employer that I know was actually breaking the law by moving award employees onto salaries (by deceiving them into thinking this was an Enterprise Agreement – it was nothing of the sort!) The penalty under law was $10,000 per day per employee! Unfortunately we didn’t have enough union members to do anything about it. Cowardly colleagues wouldn’t support their union.

Sally McManus’s words above illustrate that nothing will change in this country while the employers are as rigid and ideological as they falsely accuse unions of being. Just look at the news – there’s hardly a day goes by without a new example of employer wage theft, employer fraud, denial of award conditions, illegality by companies, massive wrongdoing by companies such as Westpac with their money laundering and AMP with their sales deceptions. Just to name a few.

Yet employers claim unions are bad. This is sickening. I have no optimism for industrial relations in this country. All employers are interested in is suppressing wages (at a time when wages have shown no growth for a decade!) and cutting conditions. Yet they pay themselves like kings. Sick!

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I’ve been an iiNet customer since 2013, before they were bought by TPG. I’ve had some bad experiences – loss of connection for long periods on a couple of occasions, poor support (from South Africa!) and lack of response to my queries.

Two days ago I sent a message on their “Contact us” form, saying I had just heard Paul Budde, the well known technology commentator, saying that most people on the NBN fibre are on 50Mb/s. (This was in a discussion about the new FTTC NBN announced a few days ago.)

Oh yeah? My message said that I had heard that Telstra upgraded all their customers to 50Mb/s a year or more ago at no cost. I had asked if iiNet would do this for me in view of my long loyalty.

All I got was a “Please wait, we will ask our manager.” A week later I got a call in an almost unintelligible Indian sounding voice asking me to explain my request again, which I did. Again, the answer was, “Please wait, we’ll get back to you.” They didn’t, of course.

So in this contact form on Wednesday I explained all this again and said, “How about it?” I got a confirmation reply that Craig Levy, the Chief Operating Officer, would respond, usually within one business day.

Result? Nothing! No response. Same as before. OK, that’s it. I have two letters on my desk right now from other ISPs wanting to sign me up, so iiNet, you’ve lost my business. iiNet are shit.

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