Choices! What Choices?

20 May 2007

Last year the Government threw out most of the benefits that Australian workers had achieved over the years and replaced them with a “free for all” named “Work Choices”.  Very few working conditions now remain on the statute books and it’s up to the employee to negotiate her own.  Which is fine if you have experience, qualifications, a track record.  But not so good if you’re 18 years old, and begging to be given your first job.  The Work Choices available to the young and the unskilled consist of:

1.   Do I take the job at the pay and conditions offered, or

2.   Do I look for another job?

The reason given for any legislation that diminishes the benefits and pay of employees is “competition”.  We cannot be paid high wages and compete with international markets where the staff is paid a small fraction of the Australian national wage.

Why does this thinking only apply to one section of the workforce though?  I’ve never seen it suggested that the senior executive of an Australian company should be paid at the level of his Malaysian counterpart in order to foster competition.

And I’ve no idea how much the head of a Vietnamese or Indonesian bank earns but I bet my entire year’s income that it’s a lot less then the THIRTY THREE POINT FOUR NINE MILLIONS DOLLARS (Yes – $33.49 million) that Allan Moss earned last year at the Macquarie Bank in Sydney.   

 His Work Choices have also probably been reduced to two:

1.   Shall I work this year, or

2.   Shall I not bother? 



  1. I worked out that my house is worth about ten years of my salary. His house is probably worth about six months of his salary. There isn’t a house in Sydney that would take ten years of his salary – the most expensive one ever sold went for about 33 mill. Imagine what a lovely shed I could buy with a year’s salary!

  2. It’s not just the 18 yr olds who have to make that choice. You might go in for an interview with what you think is a fantastic company, go through the whole interviewing process, get offered the job. And then, there it is – the contract. You read through it and its Work Choices to a T. Do you take the job or not? It’s really only the big wigs who can “negotiate”. The rest of us plebs just sign on the dotted line… and then wait for the next election.

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