David Bidstrup: A very casual approach.

I saw an article the other day where it was claimed that 16,000 new jobs had been created in one month. Apparently 45,000 permanent jobs were lost and 61,000 casual jobs created.

At the risk of getting the “free market capitalists” and economists frothing at the mouth and murmuring “socialism” I thought I would tell of one example that I know of where this sort of bullshit is practised to the detriment of ordinary folk who are trying to make a living, realise some modest ambitions like living in a house with glass in the windows, (nothing flash), raising a family and saving enough for the occasional pie and beer when they are too knackered to work anymore.

They were originally employed as “permanents”. The work was at a remote site involving 12 hour days for 14 days in a row and conditions were “challenging” to say the least – remoteness, time away from family, long hours, hard work, extremes of temperature, flies and mosquito’s and very ordinary, (some would say inept), “management”.

In response to “cost pressures” the organisation decided to make all employees redundant and offer to re-employ them as “casuals” using a labour hire company to “manage” them and do the payroll.

Rates of pay offered were significantly lower than the previous full time rates and the security of rostered hours was replaced with an ad hoc arrangement where people might get 2 days on site and then be sent home only to be recalled a couple of days later for another few days or wait weeks between shifts.

Travel time used to be paid from the closest capital city to and from the site. Flights left at 6 a.m. and return flights arrived at 6 p.m. The new arrangements removed the travel time so people were paid when they set foot on site and it stopped as soon as they got on the plane to go home after 14 twelve hour work days.

How anyone is supposed to be able to make life out of this sort of arrangement mystifies me as does the uncaring approach to decent folk who might not be too sophisticated but are honest grafters who are prepared to do this rather lousy work.

There might be some people who find casual work to their liking but this situation forces those involved to lose any job security they might have had and have it replaced with uncertainty and reduced income.

Before anyone calls me a bleeding heart they need to know that I have been there and seen what goes on, and it is not pretty. The people are treated as a disposable commodity to be used for profit and chucked on the scrap heap when it suits.

And before anyone gets on their high horse and says that they should just get another job they need to see the reality of the labour market and the paucity of jobs on offer, the relentless cycle of job application, (on-line of course, through a “recruiter” of course), waiting forever with no response, being told they are unsuccessful, (if they are lucky, usually silence reigns), and then repeating it over and over again while they go broke, until it all becomes too hard.

We all know that the labour market statistics have about the same credibility as the calculation of the “global average temperature” – no rational person believes either one yet governments crow about “growth in jobs” because it serves their political purposes. It’s too bad for those who get the wrong end of the stick and no one seems to give a damn.

The casualisation of the workforce is a national disgrace and creates all sorts of problems for those who suffer its consequences going forward as it does for the nation at large when good folk need a helping hand out of the national pot. Don’t get me started on the Centrelink process which seems to be designed to trash whatever self-respect folk might have had left and make life even more miserable.

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66 Responses to David Bidstrup: A very casual approach.

  1. alan sivkoff

    I too concur with the premise of your argument. However the increasing casualization of the workforce is a direct result of the Rudd /Gillard/Shorten labour policy determinations that has taken Aust back to the 50’s wrt manager v employee relationships. I now only have 2 f/t staff, all the rest are casual; a direct consequence of the Alp stacked FWA and associated tribunals that have increased wages costs.

  2. stackja

    alan sivkoff
    #2641003, posted on February 19, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    I see someone with real world experience. Seemed to answered my question,

  3. FOP

    Hence policy (and dare I say it, teaching in unis) should be geared towards actually encouraging entrepreneurship in Australia; policy should also be adjusted to remove barriers to encouraging start-ups. In any case, casualisation is a (sociological) consequence of something deeper. I do not know exactly, but the lack of commitment is a telling sign of a society and economy not functioning correctly.

    A better understanding of the way a business works in a real-time dependent economic process is required (capital theory); a business needs to employ factors of production — one of which is employees — in the quest for profit. I guess that the powers that be and many economists do not understand how the roundabout process of production actually works (i.e. the capital intensity of the economy, promulgated by Böhm-Bawerk).

    The irony of casualisation is that central bank interest rates are at all-time lows. Casualisation as a phenomenon reflects a lack of courage to engage in longer-term projects; not bad as such, but as a growing trend, if it reflects shorter-term project thinking, then, if interest rates were determined by the market, rather than overnight rates being set by the RBA, they would be much higher now (so the magic of expansionary monetary policy is not working the way it should – duh!) So, why such a lack of commitment? Perhaps real wages and on-costs are too high here in Oz.

  4. thefrolickingmole

    Casualisation is part of business trying to protect itself from paying for people not working.

    That said its a shitty thing, and i hope that particular company goes bust.

    Dont get me started on missinglink, as i dont have a CRN thats “valid” I cant access anything unless i want to spend a few days of my life dealing with mouth breathers in the offices.

  5. Old Irrelevant me

    I thought it was Keating’s Era that brought in the changes for the labour Hire existence. I’d be more than comfortable saying that we, having failed to live up to our own Social Contract has allows such practices to manifest.

  6. imperfection

    im sure the baby boomers will come out & tell the younger generations that they never had it so good!

  7. zyconoclast

    Casual employment in Australia: a quick guide

    Historical data
    As shown in Table 1 below, the casualization of the Australian workforce proceeded at a more or less steady pace from 1992 to 2004 when the proportion of wage and salary earners (excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises (OMIEs))working on a casual basis increased from 21.5 to 25.7 per cent. It fell to 24.5 per cent in 2005 and remained around this figure for most of the years following, falling to 23.9 per cent in 2013.

  8. Judith Sloan

    You are just wrong.

  9. Gavin R Putland

    UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE BULLSHIT WORK-ETHIC
    by Gavin R. Putland, August 2017.

    Someone else wants to do your job. So why does it matter if you do it?

    In a logical world, if you don’t do your day job, your idleness imposes a loss on the rest of us. In the real world — where the official involuntary unemployment rate is rarely less than 5 percent, and where the real rate is more like twice the official rate, with a similar number involuntarily underemployed — if you don’t do your day job, you create a much-needed vacancy for someone else.
    In a logical world, you do your job in order to be a maker and not a taker. In the real world, where there are five or more jobseekers for every available job, you can’t be a maker without being the taker of someone else’s opportunity.
    In a logical world, you do your job in order to get it done. In the real world, you do your job in order to stop someone else from getting the pay cheque.
    In a logical world, you do your job in order to be a lifter and not a leaner. In the real world, you can’t be a lifter without forcing someone else to be a leaner — as if it were somehow more virtuous to make someone else do your leaning for you, and to blame him or her for doing it, rather than do it yourself.
    In a logical world, jobseekers offer to get more work done. In the real world, jobseekers try to take work from you and your kids, keeping downward pressure on your pay and your kids’ pay. And the more brutally politicians make those jobseekers try harder to take your job and your kids’ jobs, putting more downward pressure on your pay and your kids’ pay, the more likely you are to vote for them!
    In a logical world, you submit to the obligation to work because you are not more important than other people. In the real world, in order to justify your submission, you must believe that you are more important — to the extent that you should get one of the limited number of opportunities while other people miss out. In a logical world, your work ethic is an expression of your humility and your sense of duty. In the real world, what passes for your work ethic is an expression of your vanity and your sense of entitlement.
    In a logical world, what you do for a living is a major determinant of your legacy. In the real world, what you do for a living will probably get done whether you do it or not, in which case your legacy is determined by what you do in your unpaid time, and what you do for a living is relevant only in so far as it effects your supply of “spare” time and money with which to do something that won’t otherwise get done. In a logical world, the market value of your work is an important measure of your legacy. In the real world, your legacy probably consists in what the market values at nought, and in what the current political correctness regards as a shirking of responsibilities.
    *
    I write precisely four years after David Graeber went viral with his article “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs”. He complained:

    Huge swathes of people… spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound.

    But I tell you that not merely “huge swathes” of workers, but nearly all workers, do not merely “secretly believe”, but know with certainty — and are forcibly reminded every day — that if they don’t do their jobs, someone else will be grateful for the opportunity; that whether their work needs to be done or not, getting it done does not depend on them; that even if their jobs are not disposable, they themselves still are; that even if the work itself is not bullshit, the official reason for doing it still is. What shall we say of the “moral and spiritual damage” that comes from that?
    Employers seem to think they benefit from this arrangement. They even make it worse by inflating the qualifications and minimizing the remuneration of advertised jobs, so as to pretend that the shortage of jobs is the opposite: a “skills shortage”, providing an excuse to bring in more jobseekers from overseas. It does not seem to occur to employers that:
    * An undersupply of workers is equivalent to an oversupply of customers;
    * If workers are scarce, employers will seldom be sued for discrimination, because the whole concept of discrimination in employment is based on the assumption that employers get to choose between competing job applicants, not the other way around;
    * If workers are scarce, employers will seldom be sued for unjust dismissal, because the whole concept of unjust dismissal is based on the assumption that jobs are scarce;
    * If workers are scarce, employers can advertise a real job without being swamped by more applications than they have time to assess; and
    * High unemployment squeezes profits and increases business failures as workers try to escape job insecurity by starting their own businesses in competition with established employers. Such is their optimism that the failure rate of new businesses is always higher than the unemployment rate. Thus the overwhelming majority of workers who start their own businesses do not add to the supply of opportunities, but merely graduate from one system of enforced failure to another.
    Let us therefore consider how we might create the “logical” arrangement, in which jobs are oversupplied and doing them actually makes a difference.
    A nation cannot tax itself to full employment if the taxes fall on private production. But there are two other things that a nation can tax: first, the causes of unemployment; and second, the benefits of government action.
    Concerning the first: If there is to be full employment, the employers must be able to pay for business accommodation, and the workers must be able to pay for housing within commuting distance of the premises (plus the cost of commuting) on wages that the employers can pay (together with the cost of business premises). Therefore anything that raises the cost of accommodation reduces employment. As vacant lots and unoccupied buildings raise the cost of accommodation by artificially reducing supply, they should be subject to a punitive tax. The higher the vacancy tax, the lower the rents that owners will accept in order to keep their land occupied and avoid the tax. If the tax is apportioned to the land value, it forces land into use in the most usable (most valuable) locations; land that cannot be used — e.g. because it is in green belts — either is exempt, or has no economic value and therefore pays no tax. A vacancy tax is designed to be avoided rather than paid. But it raises revenue indirectly because “avoidance” initiates economic activity that expands the bases of other taxes: broader bases allow lower rates, so that the rest of us get a tax cut.
    Concerning the second: If you tax something that private entities do, you get less of it. If you tax something that nature does, you get neither more nor less of it, because nature does not respond to such incentives. But if you tax something that the taxing government does, you get more of it, because the government wants the revenue. One job-creating activity that governments can do is to build infrastructure, of which the benefits (net of user charges) are shown as uplifts in land values in the serviced locations. So, if the government gets a share of such uplifts, it has an incentive to build more infrastructure — and only of the sort that actually delivers the benefits! Such infrastructure generates employment not only during the construction phase, but also in the long term — by permanently reducing transaction costs, including the costs of commuting (see above). Taxes on private production should therefore be replaced, as far as possible, by a tax on uplifts in land value — e.g. a “capital-gains” tax on property. The affected property owners, far from being victims of this reform, would be the biggest beneficiaries, because they would get more “capital gains” due to more infrastructure projects, and would not pay the tax unless they actually got a gain.
    Among the taxes to be abolished, the first to go should be other property taxes that discourage construction or fail to capture uplifts in land values; these include conveyancing stamp duty, and local rates on “capital-improved value” or its annualized equivalent. That is yet another benefit to property owners. Next to go — if we want full employment — should be taxes that cause the cost of hiring a worker to exceed the worker’s take-home pay; that category includes payroll tax, anything else that resembles a payroll tax (including Australia’s “superannuation guarantee”), and income tax on wages — especially entry-level wages, for which the damage to employment is greatest.
    Besides, what sort of work ethic imposes a higher rate of tax on the wages of labour than on the unearned benefits of land speculation?
    If there is a new tax on uplifts in land values, infrastructure is funded by the increase in the base of that tax due to the infrastructure itself; the existing base is available to replace the revenue from other, abolished taxes. The expansion of the base is a growth dividend — an example of tax reform not only dividing the cake differently, but also making a bigger cake.
    *
    Notwithstanding the proliferation of labour-saving technology, we all have unsatisfied wants that can only be satisfied by work. The work isn’t done, not because it isn’t needed, but because the cost of getting it done is artificially inflated by taxes on labour and by speculative waste of land on which the labourers must live and work.
    Wherever we go, we see a need for new or improved infrastructure which can only be provided by work, and which would lower the cost of other work. The infrastructure isn’t built, not because the cost exceeds the benefit, but because the existing tax system is no good at recycling the benefit in order to cover the cost.
    The solution is to stop taxing labour, start punishing speculative waste of land, and get serious about taxing unearned uplifts in land values. Only then will workers cease to be disposable. Only then will the work ethic cease to be bullshit.

    (Completed 17 August 2017. First published at MacroBusiness on 18 August, with comments enabled. Against the odds, the author has occasionally had jobs that wouldn’t have got done if he hadn’t done them. Between appointments, he writes stuff that wouldn’t get written if he didn’t write it.)

  10. Gavin R Putland

    Sorry that paragraph breaks didn’t work as expected.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    This has been happening in countries like Spain and France. The socialists legislate to prevent people from ever being fired no matter how incompetent. Therefore the people who need employees employ them as contractors or temps. That way they can keep the competent people and get rid of the disastrous ones.

    Yet another example of socialists getting the opposite of what they want.

    My brother has been working FIFO at a minesite for many years now, as it fits with his lifestyle. Pay is still pretty good, and he can live in a city rather than in a mine camp in the scrub. So there are benefits. He started out in that business as a temp because there weren’t many jobs for NCISish forensic scientists.

  12. NB

    More tax and more regulation = fewer good jobs.

  13. Bruce of Newcastle

    While on this we have the same issue in universities. Young scientists have to do a decade or more of casual contracts before landing a job with any stability. This is after 8 years of university training towards a PhD. So that brings them to the age of 36 before they can afford to have a family. Another area where socialists have produced the opposite of what they want: try having kids age 36 if you are a woman who has just gotten her first steady job.

    Tenure is as bad as a unionized industry for keeping young people out.

  14. MikeS

    Unless you inhabit the public service, job security is at best an illusion. I worked in a firm for 20 years and at no point during that interval did I expect to necessarily be there same time next year. The boss’s speech at the office Christmas party often used to include “your jobs are safe for 18 months” or some similar period. Even that was a bit of a “Hail Mary”.
    I once heard someone claim (correctly I believe) that “if you provide value for your employer, why would they ever sack you, and if you don’t, why would they ever keep you”.

  15. Roger

    You are just wrong.

    Post in response, please Judith.

  16. duncanm

    The boss’s speech at the office Christmas party often used to include “your jobs are safe for 18 months” or some similar period.

    Ha!.. we get the ‘we (currently) have no plans to reduce the headcount’

    (*) – ‘currently’, is usually silent

  17. Tel

    In a logical world, you do your job in order to be a maker and not a taker. In the real world, where there are five or more jobseekers for every available job, you can’t be a maker without being the taker of someone else’s opportunity.

    Only if you believe that people who work are interchangeable green goop, but real skills are nothing like that. You must surely have noticed the number of corporations trying to explain that they can’t hire the person they want without importing from overseas… clearly they don’t trust a word of what you are pedaling.

    In the real world, you can’t be a lifter without forcing someone else to be a leaner — as if it were somehow more virtuous to make someone else do your leaning for you, and to blame him or her for doing it, rather than do it yourself.

    This is such a massive load of crap. I’m going to need to impose this poem on you one more time:

    https://mises.org/blog/i-want-be-consumer

    “And what do you mean to be?”
    The kind old Bishop said
    As he took the boy on his ample knee
    And patted his curly head.
    “We should all of us choose a calling
    To help Society’s plan;
    Then what to you mean to be, my boy,
    When you grow to be a man?”

    “I want to be a Consumer,”
    The bright-haired lad replied
    As he gazed into the Bishop’s face
    In innocence open-eyed.
    “I’ve never had aims of a selfish sort,
    For that, as I know, is wrong.
    I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
    And help the world along.”

    “I want to be a Consumer
    And work both night and day,
    For that is the thing that’s needed most,
    I’ve heard Economists say,
    I won’t just be a Producer,
    Like Bobby and James and John;
    I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
    And help the nation on.”

    “But what do you want to be?”
    The Bishop said again,
    “For we all of us have to work,” said he,
    “As must, I think, be plain.
    Are you thinking of studying medicine
    Or taking a Bar exam?”
    “Why, no!” the bright-haired lad replied
    As he helped himself to jam.

    “I want to be a Consumer
    And live in a useful way;
    For that is the thing that is needed most,
    I’ve heard Economists say.
    There are too many people working
    And too many things are made.
    I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
    And help to further trade.”

    “I want to be a Consumer
    And do my duty well;
    For that is the thing that is needed most,
    I’ve heard Economists tell.
    I’ve made up my mind,” the lad was heard,
    As he lit a cigar, to say;
    “I want to be a Consumer, Sir,
    And I want to begin today.”

    Putland, we all enjoy a good belly laugh, and today it comes at your expense. No hard feelings, eh?

  18. Stan

    The job market is in a terrible state BECAUSE of government.

  19. egg_

    State Govts go way back calling temporary jobs such as the Sydney Olympics construction “jobs”, when they’re a blip on the RADAR.

  20. egg_

    “if you provide value for your employer, why would they ever sack you, and if you don’t, why would they ever keep you”.

    Totally ignores Office Politics, which counts for much more than individual competency.

  21. Perfidious Albino

    Welcome to the ‘gig’ economy the Fairfax press likes to talk about as if its some hip, cool thing to be a part of.

    +1. who could have foreseen that this would have been the unexpected consequence of bringing back inflexible workforce laws.

  22. Bones

    I can identify with the lack of basic “humanity” involved in the employment practices of mining companys simply because my son was employed by one for almost five years, beginning in his early twenties as a university graduate. (not with a mining degree). I encouraged him to “catch a wave” at the time.

    However he was working 7 days on, 7 days off, night shift day shift with wait for it, no opportunity to trade shifts. This meant that in any one 12 month period he would be on shift Christmas Day, New Year and Easter.
    Our extended family is enormous or which we are justifiably proud and proudly celebrate.

    I called the company Human Resources person to comment on this policy without identifying myself, (which she agreed to) and when I remarked that due to their policies my son would go at least 12 month without seeing his grandparents or his many cousins, she had no idea of the background of my complaint.

    Reaction was basically, I do not understand the basis of your comment. At this point I thanked her for taking my call and finished the conversation.

  23. egg_

    Bruce of Newcastle
    #2641067, posted on February 19, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Scary to hear that – bleeding edge tech Govt/Private jobs are much the same – a disposable (brain) pool of talent; 457 Visas have not helped – an ALP advent.

  24. rickw

    The job market is in a terrible state BECAUSE of government.

    Just look at what they did for electricity.

    For 50 years no one gave it a second thought, because 99.9% of the time it was on, or complained to much about their bills because it was essentially cheap.

    Since Government got involved it had been transformed in the worst possible ways.

  25. Gavin R Putland

    Tel @ #2641085:

    Umm… yes, I agree that production, not consumption, should be the goal. And my complaint is that the opportunities to be a producer are artificially limited by unnecessary costs (not by an alleged lack of “aggregate demand”). And the tax reforms that I mention are all examples of taking taxes off producers and putting them on free-riders or obstructors of production. So how is your point at my expense?

  26. MikeS

    “Totally ignores Office Politics, which counts for much more than individual competency.”

    If office politics trumps competency then, unless there is a money tree in the backyard, they’re toast anyway. You may be right Egg, mercifully I’ve been spared testing this thesis, but I expect I’d have bailed long before the competition ate their lunch.

  27. DM of WA

    If we had a true free market for labour in this country then most Australian workers in most sectors of the economy could be replaced by much cheaper foreign workers, mostly from China, India or the Philippines.

    Libertarians would argue that this is a good thing.

  28. Dan Dare

    I see first hand two types of yoof.
    The first get off their arse, go FIFO to all sorts of outback sites, put up with whatever it takes to get the job, stay in a donga, do long shifts on and set themselves up for life.
    More power to them and they are exceptional young folk.
    Maybe it’s their upbringing in a (mostly) good rural area.
    The rest are useless dopers, ice heads and just plain layabouts haunting Centrelink and causing grief to people going about their business.
    Unfortunately now it’s more of the latter.

  29. egg_

    MikeS
    #2641129, posted on February 19, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    It can be cut-throat and, yup, best to cut and run from a snake pit.

  30. Gengis

    Dear david,
    Stop winging – bring it to the attention of the ‘Fair work Commission’
    Regards,

  31. egg_

    If we had a true free market for labour in this country then most Australian workers in most sectors of the economy could be replaced by much cheaper foreign workers, mostly from China, India or the Philippines.

    That’s what 457 Visas have done to some sectors, but they’re now recovering, thankfully.

  32. Pedro the Ignorant

    Labour hire companies are little better than slave traders, and the companies that use them to exploit employees are enablers and complicit in that exploitation. They should be shut down and banned forever.

    The WA mining industry in particular was almost brought to its knees by outrageous union ambit claims during the boom times, and the recalcitrant unions killed the secure occupations, emptied the company towns, created the rapacious labour hire companies and entrenched the FIFO culture.

    Regional WA has been suffering ever since, despite the resurgence of resource prices and some renewed exploration.

    When it all turned to shit, the unions ran for cover or took the lucrative company line.

    The old hands in this business have long memories, and do not “forgive and forget”.

  33. John Stankevicius

    Could this be globalization leveling the playing field at the big end of town. Business owners are supplying goods and services and are continually being told they are a rip off. This is price pressure on the business owner. This causes wage pressure. Talk to any business owner and the magic figure for skilled labor is $70k. Further I do not know of a mid sized business who have not hired 457 visa.
    These workers are not only cheaper but their work ethic is better. They are low maintenance.
    Further accounting and legal firms hire labor in India and SE Asia. Aussies go to SE Asia for dental and medical procedures one fith of the fee here in Australia.
    If want goods and services cheaper then you have to take a pay cut.
    I look forward to your comments

  34. egg_

    The WA mining industry in particular was almost brought to its knees by outrageous union ambit claims during the boom times, and the recalcitrant unions killed the secure occupations, emptied the company towns, created the rapacious labour hire companies and entrenched the FIFO culture.

    I’ve seen some specialist mining job ads online expressly mentioning that they’re not open to local residents.

  35. John Stankevicius

    Dear Mrs Sloan
    Is your comment in relation to Mr Putlands “Bullshit” article?

  36. feelthebern

    If someone who didn’t speak English who turned up to oz with out 2 cents to rub together can then become a billionaire, what’s to stop someone in oz with the language, with an education, to give it a crack?
    Stop complaining about the system & do something about it to better yourself.

  37. Roger

    Since Government got involved it had been transformed in the worst possible ways.

    Well, actually government was involved in electricity generation and distribution in the past, albeit unhampered by ideological blinkers.

  38. Pedro the Ignorant

    I’ve seen some specialist mining job ads online expressly mentioning that they’re not open to local residents.

    -egg @ 9.45pm.

    I have never seen this sort of job ad openly posted, but it is common knowledge that mining HR people prefer FIFO workers rather than locals except for the more menial stuff like cooks and cleaners.

    Sacking locals for whatever reason, especially indigenes, can lead to all sorts of dramas for the operation, and that is something they would really like to avoid.

    Lawfare is expensive, especially when the lawfare is taxpayer funded.

  39. egg_

    Pedro the Ignorant
    #2641330, posted on February 19, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    SEEK job in the Pilbara via an agency – may still be up.

  40. EvilElvis

    You are just wrong.

    I’m with Judith. Fucking seriously, show me one award where the casual rate is lower than the permanent rate. There’s not one, casual rates are the permanent rate plus enough loadings to cover no sick or holiday allowances. The workers comp is the same. You’re fucked either way nowadays, casual gives an on the ball employer the chance of a slightly easier get out of jail than a permanent.

  41. EvilElvis

    Stick to your original premise that the stats are screwed or fiddled, David. Conflating employment stats with peak union greed vs subsequent reign in of labour costs is ridiculous.

  42. Malcolm Thomas

    Sorry David, but being a bleeding heart is the least of the problems with this post.
    The situation you describe is clearly one where the workers were earning over the market-clearing level of remuneration, and the employer used various means to reduce it. They clearly didn’t reduce the remuneration below the market-clearing level, as on your own account there were still plenty of è people willing to work under the revised arrangements.
    You seem not to like the idea that people’s wages can fall – but in mining prices have fallen dramatically since the boom. I suspect you didn’t complain when wages skyrocketed during the boom as employers scrambled for labour!
    Of course, the issues are more complex than just this, but your post doesn’t even get to first base.

  43. MPH

    People aren’t treated like disposable commodities – they are treated like the artificially expensive and artificially rare productive units that they have become. Companies are actually fairly innocent in all this as far as I am concerned – when they have been demonised by workers and government alike no wonder they abandon any kind of goodwill – they know it will never be reciprocated. Honestly, I’m amazed anyone starts a business in Australia any more.

  44. egg_

    An agency did a contract deal in IT with HP – who runs a lot of Corp and Govt IT for them – and undercut the market rate for casuals by 10%, likely fuelled by 457 staffers – I’ve witnessed situations of folk being exploited as Business Analyst placements on less than half of others – there are some unscrupulous arseholes out there.

  45. Pedro the Ignorant

    Good workers with skills and a work ethic are worth their weight in gold in the mines.

    There is an unofficial black list of bludgers, no-hopers, drunks and druggies among most of the mining companies. They will never be employed, but no reason is ever given for rejection.

    Lawfare.

    Show you are hard working, competent and reliable in your trade or profession and you will never be out of work in the mining game. Your name will go in a dozen HR files and once established you can negotiate your renumeration well over the award or going rate anywhere in Oz or even the world.

    I know a gold mine CEO who started as an underground driller’s offsider in 2002, now commands a near seven figure salary package.

  46. Singleton Engineer

    @ egg:
    “457 Visas have not helped – an ALP advent.”

    You are not correct.

    John Howard’s government introduced 457 visas in 1996.

  47. egg_

    Massively expanded under Gillard IIRC.

  48. Speedbox

    Honestly, I’m amazed anyone starts a business in Australia any more.

    Yep. Amazes me too.

    (I am an ex mining company worker (for 17 years) oscillating between working in the corporate office and doing FIFO. I loved my time in the industry. I was a bit lucky with the companies I worked for, but I would go back to it in a heartbeat).

  49. Good workers with skills and a work ethic are worth their weight in gold in the mines.

    I started as a fieldie with no mining experience and 7 months later I was the site manager, (greenfields).

    My first week there the other crusty fieldies kept telling me to slow down because I was making them look bad. Uh huh.

    This article is bereft of any redeeming qualities. Saying that, in general Australian management is the very worst in the world. And there’s a long way back to 2nd place.

  50. mareeS

    Our son is FIFO in the Pilbara and Top End, works on a casual rate through a couple of agencies who give him steady work in his set of skills. He prefers it this way because he and his wife are based in Indonesia, with a home and a couple of small businesses there. Lots of his crew mates are the same.

    He gets an email, turns up at the airport in Perth or Darwin, does the job over 5 or 10 days, flies home and has a surf, meanwhile he has free food, accomodation and facilities. Temperatures in the mid-40s are a bit of a drawback, and flies etc, but after 10yrs he is accustomed to it, and wouldn’t come back here to the east coast for a day job.

    This arrangement might not be to everyone’s taste, but it works for him.

  51. Tel

    Umm… yes, I agree that production, not consumption, should be the goal.

    Good, so you are walking back this statement then:

    In the real world, you can’t be a lifter without forcing someone else to be a leaner

    Hopefully you agree that was just a temporary brain fart. You can no go and explain what you were attempting to explain without this junk.

    And my complaint is that the opportunities to be a producer are artificially limited by unnecessary costs (not by an alleged lack of “aggregate demand”). And the tax reforms that I mention are all examples of taking taxes off producers and putting them on free-riders or obstructors of production. So how is your point at my expense?

    As I quite clearly quoted your own statement above, there’s no reason why one person producing extra would force another person to produce less, other than a belief in fixed aggregate demand, so all this business about costs is a totally separate issue. If you don’t even have a theory that’s consistent with itself, why should anyone bother with it?

  52. egg_

    457 visa use ‘peaked under Julia Gillard’s prime ministership’
    The Australian 12:00AM August 25, 2015
    STEFANIE BALOGH

    Search under Google News ($Oz)

  53. egg_

    Australian management is the very worst in the world

    Goes back to Office Politics and exploitation – “it ain’t what you know”.
    But agree, your best meal ticket is your skillset – you can always leave at some stage, if you’re “an eagle surrounded by turkeys” (tall poppy syndrome).

  54. Gavin R Putland

    Tel @ #2641511:

    No, I am not walking back the statement that “In the real world, you can’t be a lifter without forcing someone else to be a leaner”. When the opportunities to be a lifter are artificially limited, that’s a statement of fact. It seems either that my fact statements are being interpreted as value statements, or that my observations of the current state of affairs are being interpreted as general principles.

    Re

    there’s no reason why one person producing extra would force another person to produce less, other than a belief in fixed aggregate demand…

    What about a fixed supply of raw material? Or a fixed supply of space in which to produce? Or taxes that sink the demand for labour (as distinct from the demand for commodities)?

    This idea that anyone who complains about limited opportunities must be a Keynesian is new to me.

  55. David Bidstrup

    Thanks to those who responded. There were some interesting points of view. I particularly enjoyed Judith Sloan’s carefully crafted comment, “You are just wrong”. Perhaps I made the mistake of saying things people do not want to hear.

    I case anyone wonders, this is happening now and the consequences for those who wear it are dire.

    There seems to be a view that all workers are fundamentally bad and that there needs to be a mechanism to protect employers from bad hiring decisions. There was a time when those who wanted staff took the time to interview people themselves, now that is subbed out to “recruiters” whose main aim is bums on seats and revenue.

    As I head towards starting my eighth decade later this year I can reflect a bit on how things were in the past when organisations that were successful valued their people and everyone recognised that there was some mutual responsibility between employer and employee.
    This is now old hat, more is the pity.

  56. Caviar

    What else do you expect with such a massive oversupply of labour caused by our insanely high immigration rate. When their are hundreds of applicants for each job why shouldn’t businesses view workers as disposable?

  57. EvilElvis

    …how things were in the past when organisations that were successful valued their people and everyone recognised that there was some mutual responsibility between employer and employee.
    This is now old hat, more is the pity.

    David, there’s no denying that and it still is alive. Your post was a dog’s breakfast of various issues you’ve obviously had since you were a top notch employee, scorned by a big miner? What flavour icecream did you like then?

  58. EvilElvis

    but it is still alive…

  59. Pedro the Ignorant

    What flavour icecream did you like then?

    Elvis.

    I saw what you did there. 🙂

    Wickham or Point Sampson?

  60. David Bidstrup

    This has nothing to do with me. I have been retired for 7 years and have not been “scorned” by a big miner though I have watched on as some horrendous decisions have been made.

  61. EvilElvis

    David, I apologise if that came across a tad harsh. There’s a fair cross section of commenters here of which many have come through uni and managerial positions, others like myself are education averse (institutional wise anyway) and have come up through the ranks in other ways, have purely been employees or have run businesses. Hence varying opinions on seemingly similar issues, it depends if you’re looking up at the situation, down at it or even sideways. Good on you for putting in the effort to post. There’s probably 2 or 3 issues you’ve cobbled together which if seperated and fleshed out would make a little more sense. There’s obviously some knowledge and experience in that scone, continue to share. 😉

  62. EvilElvis

    Wickham or Point Sampson?

    2 options, Pedro? Less choice than a campsite dessert bar…

    Neither, have just been around the place a little and know a few old boys from the places mentioned. It was before my time but I feel a kinship with those guys and the area.

  63. EvilElvis

    FMD, I sound like sTan Grant…

  64. Pedro the Ignorant

    I was but a beardless youth when the Robe River thing blew up.

    There was fault on both sides, but the union reps who threatened any member who took Peko’s redundancy offer and drove out the families of salaried staff were no better than stand over merchants.

    A couple of these thugs went on to become very big wheels in the labor movement in Perth.

    Some workers who scabbed at the time made their pile, but were black banned for many years from any job site in the NW.

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