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Thanks, your interest will help hold me to it. I don't know nearly enough about New Zealand to write about it frequently, so I'll probably stick with an Australian focus in the main, but making a public commitment like this will (I hope) motivate me to learn more about what's going on across the Tasman too.

Also, some term definitions for those not used to them:

Penalties - higher hourly pay rates paid for working late shifts, on public holidays and on weekends. Eg you typically get double time for working a public holiday, time and a half for weekends.

Superannuation - compulsory contributions on top of your salary paid by your employer to a public or private fund that invests said contribution for your retirement. At the moment the mandatory employer superannuation payment is 9% of your gross salary.

Redundancy - where a worker is paid out if their job is lost with an amount typically negotiated as a number of months or years of salary, like a severance package.

If there are others, let me know.

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2005 at 03:52:12 AM EST
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I hear that Howard is Australia's Bush...and so, he's going to lower the standard of living, by eliminating or lowering the hourly wage? If yes, is there any way to block him, or does he have free run?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jul 6th, 2005 at 08:16:36 AM EST
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Yep, in fact I often describe him as Bush's 'mini-me' - except (in the spirit of 'never underestimate your enemy') he is much smarter and politically savvy than Bush. Which just makes him more scarey.

He wants to do away with the current independent umpire (the Australian Industrial Relations Commission - AIRC) that determines the minimum wage by hearing cases made by the unions vs the case put by business & government. Under Howard, the case of business and government have been one and the same. Since coming into power in 1996, Howard has opposed every single wage rise brought in front of the AIRC. A testament to the strength of that independent umpire is that in most cases the government has lost, or there has been a compromise on the size of the wage rise reached. As you can see from the above article, it's hardly been gargantuan over the last 10 years - but if Howard had had his way, the poorest Australians would be $2000+ a year worse off right now.

Can we stop him? Well, in the October 04 election, the Howard government got a majority in both houses of parliament - previously the opposition parties held the majority in the Senate when they worked together, and had consistently blocked further attacks on our Industrial Relations laws. That major obstacle to Howard has now gone. The result is that this is going to be one of the most public and bloody fights between unions and government in a generation.

I'm going to cover the specifics of the changes, implications etc. next diary.

cheers, Imogen (myriad)

"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Wed Jul 6th, 2005 at 07:20:24 PM EST
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