Wow am I bummed.
Our government recently made some really scary and awful legislative changes to Australia's industrial relations system. In a nutshell they did a u-turn on Australia's long history of worker's rights and unionisation by eliminiating our award and safety net system.
What this means is that where once workers had a basic expectation and entitlement to a decent wage and working conditions like holidays, breaks, sick pay, maximum shift lengths, job security and so on, they now have to negotiate their conditions directly with their emplyer as individuals. You know, divide and steamroller.
The debate around these law changes have been for many people a bit abstract. Lots of people thought it wouldn't make much of a difference. Lots of people thought it would be better for employers and the same for employees. But lots and lots and lots of people were worried it would be worse for employees.
Now we're beginning to see the results. Some people have summarily lost their jobs, others have lost money out of their pay packets or conditions that once made their jobs manageable, like flexible hours to fit in with kids or some control over their shifts and overtime. It's pretty grim, especially for lower paid, less 'irreplaceable' workers.
The debate just got really personal for me not as a worker, but a consumer. Like lots of aussie crafters I spend a fair whack of time and dollars at Spotlight, our crafitng superstore. There's one really close to my home and it's my store of choice for fabric, basic yarns, and a good portion of my craft supplies. The store is great on prices, even if it's a bit chaotic and over utilised. Getting a pram down the aisles can be an impossibility and the wait at the check out can be frustrating.
But I am really horrified to learn that the guys who run the store have just completely done over their workers. I am really really disappointed and sad because I've seen how hard their workers work, how understaffed and overextended they are, and how helpful they have been to me. And now their bosses are telling them they are worth less than they used to be, because the government has removed impediments to their wage reduction they have siezed the opportunity and done just that!
So I'm going to be going out of my way to take my business elsewhere, and to encourage everyone I know to avoid them in favour of other businesses. It's a real challenge because they are for many of us the only option for lots of things, and they are really close to my house and I don't drive. But I want those guys to know I don't want to do business with them anymore.
**Edited later - thanks for all that good feeling solidarity! It's really encouraging to see that others are prepared to go the extra mile - literally - to do the right thing by their fellow workers and to support small local businesses. Good on you all!! Also thanks Fiona for leaving the link to the ACTU Spotlight campaign where you can leave a message for Spotlight's owners letting them know you are taking your dollars elsewhere and why. Please take the time to stop in here and give these guys a little insight into how their chase for profits at the expanse of their employees may land them in the red.