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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yahoo, Channel 7 & Kevin Rudd: masters of disrespect

Miss Eagle continues to battle back to health as the flu won't give up its grip. However, life - and blogs - go on. The email address connected to Miss Eagle's blogs has been provided by Yahoo which, in Australia, is in alliance with free-to-air media corporation, Channel 7. To-day, Miss Eagle has opened an email account with a different provider for blog readers and has spent the day transferring documents and emailing contacts with the new address.

So, dear Reader, if you have the Yahoo address for Miss Eagle but haven't had an email to-day, please contact me rather quickly while the Yahoo account remains open for just a little while longer.

Then Miss Eagle will cancel the account - and there is a reason. Or, to be more correct, there are two reasons.

Firstly, and most importantly, there are the allegations which link Yahoo in China to the imprisonment and torture of bloggers. Secondly, there is the Channel 7 malpractice in which it purchased stolen medical records relating to AFL football players. It is possible that Channel 7 may face police charges in regard to the matter. AFL footballers - except for Essendon who are sponsored by Channel 7 - are boycotting Channel 7 refusing to speak to the channel's reporters. Channel 7 is reported to be in discussion with the AFL and the AFL Players Association. No sign of an apology yet. Two items about which Miss Eagle wonders:
  • about Channel 7 demonstrating a conflict of interest in relation to its sponsorship of one AFL club and reporting denigration of the members of another;
  • if the Howard Government will be brave enough to try to incorporate such activity under the coverage of its recent ACCC boycott legislation.

The matters facing Yahoo and Channel 7 have one thing in common: lack of respect for the individual, in the former a right to free speech and the right to be free of torture and in the latter the right to privacy and the right to patient confidentiality. In each case, a corporate body has assumed rights for itself and made them paramount to the legitimate rights of an individual. In each case, power has been wielded well beyond the power that the individual can bring to bear. In other words, the individual has no prospect of exerting countervailing power against the corporation - public or private.

Which brings me to Kevin Rudd's backbone. You will recall, dear Reader, that Miss Eagle has taken an interest in Kevin's backbone for quite a while. Miss Eagle has wondered when curvature of Kevin's spine, under pressure, would become evident. It is now there for all to see in the form of Labor's announced IR policy.

Miss Eagle asks Rudd and Gillard and Kevin's Krew:

  • how do you think you got to where you are in the polls?
  • is this how you show respect for working people?
  • what else will you do to show your disrespect for working people?

In case you are too middle-class and dumb to figure it out, you have done it on the backs of working people and people who care about workers' rights. These people vote and you assume they will vote for a Labor government who, supposedly, can bring them change.

Will all the executives at BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto and their $100K + a year miners vote for you, Kevin? Will they give you the numbers to govern? Or have you figured out that you can take working people for granted? Are their votes in the bag, Kevin, and you don't have to give a fig for their rights and realities?

I'd like to take you for a ride too, Kevin, when Michele O'Neil and her TCFUA officials have finished with you. Through the bleak and poor western suburbs in each of the capital cities of the eastern seaboard. You know the ones Kevin: the ones that are safe Labour seats. The ones that have a Whitlam Swimming Pool and a Wran Community Hall. The ones that are bleak and treeless. The ones that are not known as salubrious, leafy suburbs. The ones where inequity is palpable. The ones where you and Therese would never want to live - and neither would a BHP Billiton or Rio Tinto executive or their $100K+ a year miners - let alone Howard who could not tolerate Lane Cove while Kirribili was on offer.

Miss Eagle was pleased to hear Michele O'Neil on Radio National's Breakfast this morning critical of the policy and challenging Rudd to do the rounds of her members of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union. Michele spoke powerfully of the realities of life for her members and how they could not wait the projected five years of the Rudd-Gillard policy to get out from under oppressive wages and conditions.

Miss Eagle has to-day been provided with a copy of an open letter to Rudd and Gillard by a senior union official here in Victoria. This letter is also published on Unite.

The following is an open letter to the leaders of the Australian Labor Party, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. It was written by Michele O'Neil who is the Victorian State Secretary of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA).The TCFUA, like UNITE are extremely disappointed at Labor's latest sellout in regards to their industrial relations policy. UNITE calls on all sections of the union movement to join with us and begin to seriously discuss the question of political representation of working people. Workers deserve much better than Rudd's Labor Party.

Dear Kevin and Julia,

Don't you get it?I represent some of the lowest paid workers in the country. They sweat in backyard garages, shopfronts, and factories to make the clothes on your back. Some of our members have now faced three years without a pay increase. If they are still getting the minimum rates, and many are not, they take home about $460 each week. If they work at home as outworkers they likely get $3 to $5 an hour.

Yesterday one of the union's officials described how after a call from a worker, she went to a factory and the employer made her sit for two hours in a small room. The boss said that if any worker wanted to see her they were welcome. He didn't tell the workers the union was on site. He wouldn't let the union notice advising workers that the union was coming, go up on the notice board. And he sat a supervisor at the door of the room.

No worker came to the room. A worker rang the union describing payment of $4 an hour. For us to inspect the time and wage book in the factory I have to name the worker, something she doesn't want me to do as she says she'll be bullied and sacked. She's scared and asks me, "why can't you fix this without the boss knowing that I rang the union?" Under the Right of Entry Laws you've promised to keep, I cannot.

Earlier this year, one of my members was badly injured when the company under those same Right of Entry Laws, forced him to walk outside in the dark during a nightshift to a room 10 minutes away from where he worked to speak to his union. He fell and broke both his hands and doesn't have good prospects of returning to work.

Last week we received two calls from women workers in tears because they were being forced to give up their rights by signing an AWA in order to keep their job. They signed the AWA because they were threatened. The same AWAs which you will now leave in place for five years. Under those Right of Entry laws, because all the workers are on AWAs, we have no right to enter that workplace or visit our members.

You know that television ad from the 'Business Action' coalition with 3 thuggish blokes turning off the power in a clothing factory? Did you believe it? Would you like to meet the women who work for this union trying to get into workplaces that exploit textile, clothing and footwear workers? You could listen to our stories about what really happens when we try to use 'Right of Entry.

'My experience of violence and thuggery is of a company boss pulling a large chopping knife out of his draw and placing it on the desk between us as he explained that he didn't employ any outworkers and that I should leave his factory now.

We like other unions, have spent our hard earned union members' money on the ACTU's campaign which has increased your chances of being elected. How do I keep explaining to them what a vote for you will mean? They can't wait until 2010 for justice and fairness or rights - that's like asking them to wait for another election. They need them and deserve them right now. Stand up for the members of my union or don't expect us to stand up for you.

I invite you both to take a day to spend on the road with an official of my union visiting factories and sweatshops, so you can understand and reconsider today's announcement.

In unity,

Michele O'Neil

Victorian State Secretary, National Assistant Secretary, Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA)

Miss Eagle thinks that the only hope for a different Labor IR policy when Rudd is Prime Minister is another Howard copycat me-tooism.

Could it be, dear Reader, that this is Rudd's first non-core promise?