by Ross Sharp
The early 90’s, I worked for a market research company, part time, four hour shifts, nights, Saturdays, Sundays, and I did it purely for the extra cash, my “regular” job paid crap money, and I was jack of having fuck all.
We would ring people and ask their opinion of various products, or perhaps services they had used. Qantas was a client, so was Ansett. Understand this – Nobody in their right mind would willingly volunteer to spend a Sunday sitting on their arse in a fucking cubicle ringing one person after another after another, asking the same damn questions each time, and listen to some dreary knobhead whine about the fucking food they were served or the lack of legroom on their Brisbane to Cairns flight, such hardship men were not expected to endure, and so they would often share their travails, their tales of woe, and you would be obliged to listen. A little incentive helped in this respect, and that incentive was the penalty rate on offer, maybe double-time, maybe time and a half, I can’t recall exactly, but the couple hundred bucks extra I was earning each week came in very handy at the time, I can certainly recall that.
After about a year, I ditched it, it was driving me up the wall. Not exactly enthralling type of work, not something you’d think to yourself, “Gee, I’d like to do this forever and forever and forever”, not something that would ever strike you as a pathway to a career, but good enough to persevere with for a time to get you through a rough patch, maybe pay some expenses, some bills, do a few things.
I see young men and women working behind the bar of my local pub nights and weekends, the bottleshop counter, and often they’ll have a textbook open beside them, something to pore over during down times if they’re lucky enough to get any, and take it from me as I am in a position to know, those things are fucking expensive. A little extra cash can go to some very good use.
A little extra is a little too much in this day and age, say some, far too much to be dealt with, and so, some VERY CONCERNED citizens, Employers of Note, Great Men and Grand Women of Stature, Giants of Industry, Captains of Endeavour, Hard-Workin’ Hard-Dick MEN, Battle-Scarred salts of this, our Savage Earth, have gathered together, have reached out to their brethren, have raised their fists to the skies, and have shouted to the world, “THIS IS TOO BIG TO IGNORE!”
The “this” of course, is penalty rates.
“We’re sorry that we’re closed today”, they opine. “We’d like to be open to serve you”, they lament.
“We’d like to give local people jobs”, they sob, on their palms the stigmata of selfless sacrifice, the Wounds of Christ, their blood our water, our wine, and bled for our sustenance, and ours alone.
“BUT THE PENALTY RATES ARE TOO HIGH!”, they howl, their pain the sad, sickening sounds of desperately wounded animals felled by far more savage beasts than they.
“Tell Canberra something has to change”, they conclude, oh
If I were a violent man, I could imagine myself happily throwing rocks through the shopfront windows of any business that would display such a thing.
But I am not a violent man.
This bell has been rung before …
“Celebrity chef George Calombaris has entered the industrial relations debate, slamming penalty rates faced by restaurateurs under the federal government’s Fair Work Act as uneconomical.
Calombaris, who stars in the high-rating MasterChef TV show, has complained about the rates he will have to pay staff at his new Melbourne pasta bar, due to open this month, claiming it’s up to $40 an hour per worker on Sundays.
“The problem is that wages on public holidays and weekend greatly exceed the opportunity for profit.””
“[Luke] Mangan, who has built an $80 million food empire, also admitted his business was forced to employ more than 20 per cent of its chefs and waiters from overseas on 457 work visas due to a shortage of homegrown talent.
Mr Mangan, who operates restaurants in Singapore, Tokyo, Jakarta and the Maldives, said Australia’s high penalty rates were forcing many businesses, including his Sydney restaurant Glass, to close on public holidays.”
Our Prime Minister too, has had his own struggles …
““If you don’t want to work on a weekend, fair enough don’t work on a weekend. But if you do want to work on a weekend, and lots of people, particularly students, particularly young people, want to work on a weekend, you want the places to be open to provide jobs,” [Tony Abbott] said, pointing out that the hotel he uses in Melbourne closed its restaurant on Sunday night because it couldn’t afford to pay penalty rates and that he had found it difficult to find a bottle shop open over Easter for the same reason.
“I don’t begrudge people the money … but in the end there is a balance that has to be struck here and my preference will always be in favour of more jobs,” he said.”
It is admirable of our Prime Testicle not to “begrudge” these young folk the money they require in order to live, an honourable sentiment indeed, yet perhaps Mr. Abbott should be made aware that it is not just the young, not just students, but a colourful multitude of others, of all ages, of all qualifications and experience, who may well say things such as this, “Mum, there’s a couple Sunday shifts coming up, and I need the extra money, can you look after the kids those days?”, or the nurse who’s picked up a week’s worth or graveyard shifts, her husband’s job went offshore a couple months back, and he can’t get a look-in for a new one, and they NEED THE FUCKING MONEY IN ORDER TO LIVE.
It’s not “extra”. It makes it “enough”.
That is what makes people do it.
Here is Luke “Mr. 80 Million” Mangan again …
“In our age group, we just did anything, worked anywhere to get where we wanted to go,’’ he told The Saturday Telegraph. “Today I get apprentices’ mums calling and saying about Little Johnny, ‘you’re working him 50 hours a week’.
“My mum and dad would drop me off at the train station and make darn sure I worked 50 hours a week — work that out.’’
… Such fond, faded and sepia-toned memories of simpler times, when a man knew the value of a penny, and children would race billy-carts made from orange crates up and down the back lanes of inner suburbia on weekends or after school, and a boy was taught to work hard, taught the meaning of hard work, harder than any boy had ever worked before, for they be a whuppin’ in the offing he don’t, a hard-scrabble, scratching and scraping life, but the kids today …
They expect, that if you are going to ask them to work for 50 hours a week, you will fucking well pay them for it, and if you are not prepared to do that, then do the FUCKING WORK YOURSELF.
They expect, that if you are going to ask them to work till 12.00pm on a Sunday evening, they will be appropriately recompensed for working such unsociable hours, the hours that keep them away from their partners or their children, away from their friends, the hours they will work simply because, and for no reason other, that they NEED THE FUCKING MONEY IN ORDER TO LIVE, and maybe you could throw in a CabCharge voucher as well so they can get home without being bashed or raped on the way by some lunatic cunt.
If you are going to start a business, you are expected to comply with certain rules and regulations, especially if you are employing other people, and if you did enter into your business unaware that it’s nature would require you to pay your employees penalty rates for irregular hours, then you are a wanking twat and your business deserves to fail. You knew the rules when you entered the game. You don’t enter the game and decide you need some new rules simply because the existing ones no longer suit your sucking greed.
I do not expect this campaign against penalty rates from the folk of “Chambers Across Australia” to resonate particularly well with the average member of the wage-earning public, but one can never be too sure how such things may pan out given we have a federal government who seem pathologically obsessed in doing anything and everything within their power to fuck with people’s lives, whether it be through health, education, welfare or work.
A new underclass, they are the Morlocks, and we are the Eloi.
However … as the recently made redundant former Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman did find out, in one very brief term of office, if, upon ascending to office, one of your first actions – in the name of fiscal purity – is to sack 40,000 public servants, you lose 40,000 votes.
If each of those 40,000 have one or more relatives, dependents or close friends negatively affected by this action, you lose double that, maybe 100,000, maybe more.
Do you really, seriously, want to fuck with the viability of so many other people’s livelihoods?
Be careful what you wish for, boys.
That night nurse may suddenly find herself all out of painkillers just when you need them most.