John Howard’s Industrial Relations Reforms – is he for real?

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny… what in heaven’s name are you on about?

A few days ago, Australia Prime Minister John Howard was reported as saying that Australian workers must come to terms with the fact that the 5 day working week was dead.

Johnny – I suggest that if you want this concept to gain acceptance in the community, then you better start by getting your own Government department offices to change their habits.

Have you ever tried to deal with a Government office on a weekend?  Try telephone a Federal Government department, for example, the Australian Taxation Office, on a weekend.  You’ll either receive a recorded message advising the office is closed and giving you the “normal” office hours to call back within (and their idea of “normal” seems to be along the lines of 8.30 am to 4.45 pm), or you’ll end up being put on hold and having to listen to that infernal “muzak” noise indefinitely because there is no-one there to answer your call.

Until such times as the Federal Government’s own offices start to work within the boundaries of Mr Howard’s grand vision then I, for one, refuse to take Mr Howard seriously in respect of this issue.

Were I to be cynical, perhaps this ploy is Mr Howard’s first salvo in re-arranging the Government’s own workforce to come into line with arrangements that exist in the private sector?  If so, Mr Howard is overlooking the fact that, traditionally, Government sector employees have always been at the forefront of the changes that have led to the employment scenario we have in Australia today.  Therefore, it will be a very tough battle for Mr Howard to roll back the benefits Government sector employees currently enjoy.  The Government sector trade union is very strong with virtually 100% membership.  I think it would be fair to say that these employees would be quite prepared to undertake industrial action in the fight to retain their working conditions.

I’ll say it again – if Mr Howard wants to be taken seriously on this issue, he MUST first get his own house in order.