Rank and File ETU member writes to Hanson

Dear Senator Hanson

You’ve said, many times, that you stand up for “average Australians”. Well, I’m writing to you to find out where you stand in relation to this rotten federal government and their latest assault on unions and the workers they represent. It took a whole lot of cajoling and shoving to get the Coalition to investigate the financial sector’s rampant dishonesty with a Royal Commission (how they’ll actually deal with all this corruption is another matter), but the Turnbull administration has been happy to take any and every opportunity to kick the workers fair in their collective head. Now they’ve launched another attack against the unions that advocate for them with a raft of destructive legislation. This is the sort of action that should be reserved for thieving bankers and investment companies, and tax-dodging transnational corporations, not those organisations that working people rely upon to represent their interests in a viciously predatory industrial environment.

If you know your Australian history – as you claim to – you will know that unions formed and thrived in this country because many employers wanted to over-work and under-pay their employees right from he start. In the 1800s it was common for people to work fourteen hours per day, six days every week, no holidays or other leave of any description. It’s been a long and bitter struggle to win decent wages and conditions for Aussie workers, and that’s what made this a country we could be proud of – not getting involved in foreign wars, and crawling to the USA and England every time they whistled for us. Did you know that the eight-hour day (based on the principle “eight hours work, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest”) first enjoyed an industry-wide acceptance in Australia? In fact, it was in the building industry (always hard yakka, but back then devilishly hard work) that unionists first won that battle. And that, Senator Hanson, is what civilised society is about: ordinary people having the time to enjoy the fruits of their labour rather than being worked into oblivion by the rich and powerful.

Malcolm Turnbull tells us we can rely upon his ‘trickle-down’ effect to deliver our share of the common wealth (and it’s workers and small business proprietors who create the wealth – not lazy, parasitic corporate executives and toadying politicians). Yet under his government’s reckless and uncaring administration, real income has fallen against a rise in the cost of living (have you not noticed the steep increase in the costs associated with buying and owning a house, or even running a car?). What’s been your contribution to this situation, Senator? Have you spoken up for the down-trodden?

Hospitality and retail workers – already the lowest paid sector in this country – are now going back to the dark ages. Not only has the Turnbull government slashed their penalties, but their ordinary time wages are so pathetic not one of them will ever have a hope of paying rent for a decent dwelling, let alone qualifying for a mortgage. In Tasmania, Federal Group employees, having been used by their employer in a pro-Liberal Party campaign during the recent state elections (even being coerced into wearing T-shirts at work stating their support), are now in the ludicrous situation of being pushed to accept an EBA wage offer that is below the rate of inflation! Some reward for assisting their employer’s dirty electioneering…

Being a very well-paid political representative, these matters should greatly concern you. Furthermore, you should be doing something to counter these unacceptable trends, and if you’re not then you should be worried, because when you beat the workers down, they will eventually turn on you. And a word of warning: the ‘little people’ don’t take kindly to politicians who claim to represent their interests and then sell out to the wealthy. Politicians who give in to such temptations will, in the very least, be condemned by the pages of history yet to be written. How will you be remembered, Senator?

P J Ball