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Tag Archives: Business

Rebranding Wage Slavery: An Intentional Imbalance

The title of the article, belonging to the Herald Sun, is “Time to Embrace Life’s Imbalance”.

It sits squirrelled away in the bottom corner of page 26 of today’s business section, a measly couple of hundred words. Easy to overlook.

In it, we are compelled by “business consultant” Judy Reynolds to forfeit a good work-life balance and instead adopt an attitude of “intentional imbalance”.

There’s two words we don’t often hear thrown together. I wonder where else we’d like to implement an “intentional imbalance” in our lives?

The article mentions a study by the Australia Institute, which found that the balance between work and life had worsened for nearly five million workers in the past five years. Five million, in five years. That’s nearly the entire population of Victoria. Imagine, as you’re walking around today, that every person you encounter is part of that group, and then marvel at the size of even the small percentage of that five million you’ve witnessed in a single day. In human terms, we’re not talking about a minority.

Although the piece has been penned in the language of choice, there is nonetheless the sneaking recognition that for those five million people whose work-life balance has worsened, the likely scenario was not one of a comfortable selection between option A or option B, with pros and cons to consider on each side, but rather grim acceptance or financial ruin.

Does the author of the article believe that people will voluntarily choose to increase their own suffering and enjoy it simply by changing the way they talk about it? Who among us stands to benefit from longer work hours and increased job insecurity. the two phenomena listed as “main culprits” for the causation of poor work-life balance?

It seems that the blurring of the lines between our work life and our private existence is a source of some discomfort to many employees. Many companies and workplaces now encourage some form of technological linkage with their hierarchy, whether it’s by smartphone, email or through an intranet/employee website. While many upwardly mobile workers use technology after hours to further their careers, this use of communications technologies after hours has also been correlated with an increased reporting of work-life conflict, and it’s really any wonder. Leaving behind the stresses of the workplace when the clock ticks over to finishing hour is I’m sure a feature of the terrain in the vast majority of employee’s minds.

We like to have clear cut boundaries between when we must be “on” in terms of our responsibilities, persona and outward behaviour, and when we can simply relax and be ourselves. The encroachment of business into our private lives in this way seems likely to cause more than a little existential discomfort in a situation that should ideally be free from unwanted external observation or interaction.

In fact, several studies conducted into the effects of work-life balance on the psychological and physical wellbeing of employees point fairly strongly towards a good work-life balance being a stepping stone to enjoying better health.

A study published in the Journal of Social Service Research indicates that “results show that employees who viewed their work schedules as flexible reported higher levels of work-life balance, which in turn were associated with positive paths to well-being.”

Investigations carried out by the Government of South Australia point to the same conclusion. “Work life balance initiatives increase loyalty and dedication, and decrease employee absenteeism, improving client service and enhancing business reputation overall.”

This 2002 study even suggests a benefit for employers:

“Many employees reported clearly benefiting from the flexible policies/practices offered by their organization. HR managers also generally believed that such policies/practices yielded tangible business benefits, including improved employee morale, greater employee commitment and performance, and reduced casual absence and turnover.”

In real economic terms then, supporting employees in their movements towards more balanced schedules gives us happy, committed and productive workers. This seems like a sound investment, a win-win situation that extends beyond the employer/employee dyad and out to the clients and families of the two.

So the question floating to the surface of this muddied pond seems to be, “who stands to benefit from the adoption of an ‘intentional imbalance’ in our work-life arrangements?”, and we don’t have to look far to answer that.

It seems Judy Reynolds is more than comfortable employing doublespeak to gussy up worker suffering.

Rather than addressing the problem itself, namely that five million workers (and more) are dissatisfied with the security of their jobs and the amount of time worked, Reynolds simply entices us to call our suffering by any other name.

The phrase “intentional imbalance” is a re-branding of wage slavery. What it means in real terms, stripped of the doublespeak, is that we are being beckoned by the business community to smilingly accept infringements on our rights at work. We are being told that things are not going to get better, and that rather than calling a turd a turd, we should simply spice it and serve it as gourmet.

Adam Smith’s condemnation of the “vile maxim of the masters of mankind” is as cogent now as it was when it was written. We cannot acquiesce to those who would run the world along the lines of “all for ourselves, and nothing for anyone else”, and this undermining of workers serves to perform exactly that function.

Who benefits from job insecurity? Business, of course, who can simply replace unruly workers with cheap overseas labour should they have the cheek to stand up and exercise their legal rights. They need not even follow through, as the threat of replacement is often more than enough to quash any organised resistance to damaging workplace policies. It may be too obvious to warrant mention, but longer work hours means exhausted workers, and the likelihood of a tired man causing a fuss is significantly lower than that from a well rested individual.

The observant reader will have noticed by now that these negative effects on the lives of workers are anything but good for the economy, so in practice, those businesses without access to government subsidies or the ability to whipsaw labour forces over international boundaries will likely suffer as much as their workers from this justification of abuse.

Ms Reynolds concludes her stunning insights into the topic with the suggestion that we “work out a plan that includes [our] goals for work, family, friends, health and recreation.”

I say we add to that list the direct and active opposition of Ms Reynolds’ absurd attack on the backbone of this country, and that we work to “intentionally imbalance” any attempts to implement it in our own lives and the lives of our friends, family and co-workers.


This article was originally published on the author’s blog, which you can find here.

Tony Abbott Changes Liberal Foreign Policy

Image source: truepolitik.blogspot.com

Image source: truepolitik.blogspot.com

“Let’s wait until we’ve got all the facts in before we come to hard and fast conclusions. But obviously it is the clear and settled position of the Australian Government that larger countries should not bully smaller ones, that countries should not aid people who are in rebellion against their own government and that international disputes should be settled peacefully in accordance with international law.”

Tony Abbott, 18th July, 2014

 

Waiting for the facts, now there’s a change for a start. Ok, it didn’t stop him directly blaming Russia for this tragedy before the investigations even begin, but that’s a vast improvement from when he interrupted Question Time earlier this year to announce that the missing plane was on the verge of being found.

Still, it’s an excellent move that the Liberals are now adopting the policy that “larger countries should not bully smaller ones”! This will, of course, prevent our future involvement in such events as:

  • The Vietnam War
  • Both Iraq wars
  • Our attempts to screw East Timor on oil
  • The G20
  • Trade agreements with the USA
  • Support for the Japanese effort in World War Two

As for “aiding people who are in rebellion against the their own government” – apart from annoyance at the foreign countries who may have contributed to Clive Palmer’s wealth – this probably stems from the fact that Abbott – being English – is still upset over the American War of Independence where tea was tipped into Boston Harbour, while colonials dressed as Native Americans chanted, “No taxation without representation”. The current Tea Party have drawn their name from this event, but left out the word “Boston” from their name. Similarly, in order to achieve consistency, they’ve also left out the words “without representation” from their slogan.

Now, I know some of you will object to me calling Mr Abbott “English” given that he’s lived here since childhood and that he took out Australian citizenship in his twenties. (And, as Parliamentarians aren’t allowed to be dual citizens, he’s clearly revoked his British citizenship – even though there appears no evidence of that.) However, when I complain about referring to Mr Murdoch as an Australian, I’m told that he’s born here so that makes him Australian, even if he has given up his citizenship. As Terry McCrann put it yesterday:

“In the 1960s Murdoch went to Britain, in the 1970s to the US, in the 1980s to the very different universe of Hollywood; that, and a lot more would, as they say, be and is continuing to be history.

But all through this dizzying roller-coasting cacophony of activity he never left Australia.

That’s obvious in business terms. NewsCorp is now the country’s unequalled private sector media player — bizarrely, challenged and increasingly confronted only by the nominally publicly owned but “their” ABC.

BUT he never “left” Australia in even more core personal terms. He always will be quintessentially Australian.”

So, I guess that Rupert is “Australian”; one might almost say that he’s “the Australian” – well, the only one whose opinion counts. (Who needs scientists when Rupert can tell us that the best way to deal with climate change is to build away from the sea?)  Of course, we just had the celebration of fifty years of “The Australian” – that newspaper which advocates free enterprise and not relying on handouts, while itself not actually making a profit in the fifty years of its existence.

Ah well, yesterday’s front page of another Murdoch Media Misinformation unit, assured me that Bill Shorten just doesn’t get that we have to find billions of dollars worth of savings while simultaneously celebrating the fact that the Carbon Tax is gone and we’ve removed a $9 billion impost on the economy. And we also want to get rid of that Mining Tax. Because if we get rid of taxes then that’s money that the government doesn’t have and Bill Shorten doesn’t seem to get that when you get rid of taxes like that you need to find spending cuts.

(Typical Labor. When it was announced last year that they’d require people to keep log books on their business-related leased cars, they didn’t understand that this would lead to the death of the car industry because apparently most people weren’t using them for business purposes and if you stop a business rort, that’s bad for the economy – stopping rorts by pensioners, parents, the disabled, the unemployed and anyone else who may not have voted Liberal, on the other hand, is a good and just thing. And let’s face it – any money you take from the government is a rort unless you’re someone whose leasing a car.)

Nevertheless, I can’t understand why – even if they still try and remove the spending associated with it – the Liberals are so concerned with removing the Mining Tax, because, after all, it’s raising so little money, it could hardly be a disincentive to investment. And given some of the things that have been cut because of the “dire emergency”, you’d think every bit would count.

Your vote might just be worth something after all

News.com.au have published an excellent and timely article, Federal Election promises, cuts and what they mean for you bySarah Michael, which briefly examines Kevin Rudd’s and Tony Abbott’s election promises and how they would affect the average voter. The article deserves exposure. It doesn’t appear to be receiving a great deal by the looks of the Most Read Stories section of news.com where it hasn’t even entered the Top Ten even though it was published some seven hours ago. It is doubtful too, that hundreds of thousands of social media users will know the article exists because of the huge (and justified) anti-Murdoch sentiment: people – again justifiably – are deserting his tabloids in their droves.

Subsequently, for those thousands of readers of this site, I have reproduced the bulk of the article below. Here is what you will get with your vote:

If you have school-aged children…

Under Labor, you would receive the Schoolkids Bonus of $410 a year for each child in primary school and $820 a year for each child in secondary school. But your family would only be eligible for these payments if you receive benefits such as Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Labor would also introduce 137 new trade training centres to 225 schools across Australia.

Labor would also spend $8 million on programs to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

The Coalition would axe the Schoolkids Bonus. But it would match Labor school funding dollar-for-dollar over the next four years.

If you have children in after-school care…

Labor would give $450 million in extra funding to up to 500 schools, so they can introduce or expand on after-school care services.

If you’re a TAFE student…

Labor would seek an agreement from the states and territories guaranteeing no further TAFE cuts. If the states refused to guarantee funding for TAFE, the Commonwealth would fund TAFEs directly.

If you want to go to university…

And you are from a disadvantaged background, Labor would give $50 million in funding to 17 higher education institutions to boost participation.

If you’re an apprentice…

Labor would boost the completion payment under the Tools For Your Trade initiative from $1500 to $2000. But Labor has already scrapped $3000 full-time and $1500 part-time incentives for employers of workers who undertake a ‘nonpriority’ qualification. The incentives remain in place if the qualifications lead to occupations on the National Skills Needs List or in the aged, child or disability care sectors, or if they are enrolled nurses.

The Coalition would maintain the scrapping of these incentives. The Coalition would also provide apprentices with a Trade Support Loan of up to $20,000 over four years during your apprenticeship. It will be repayable at the same income threshold for university students who receive FEE-HELP loans (currently $51,309).

If you’re a low-income earner…

And you earn less than $19,400, from 2015-16 you would not need to file a tax return because Labor intends to increase the tax-free threshold.

The Coalition would abolish the low-income super contribution, which pays people who earn $37,000 or less per year up to $500 each financial year to help save for their retirement.

If you’re unemployed…

Labor would spend $35 million over three years to provide about 8900 disadvantaged jobseekers with simulated work experience and training in employability skills such as language, literacy and numeracy.

The Coalition would give people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and are on Newstart or Youth Allowance a $2500 Job Commitment Bonus if they get a job and remain off welfare for one year. People would receive a further $4000 if they remain off welfare for two years.

The Coalition will also provide up to $6000 for long-term unemployed job seekers if they moved to a regional area for a job, or $3000 if they moved to a metropolitan area.

If you work in the public service…

Labor would increase the public service efficiency dividend from 1.25 to 2.25 percent for three years, a move unions say could cost more than 5000 jobs. The dividend is an annual funding reduction for Commonwealth government agencies, designed to reduce operating costs and lift efficiency.

The Coalition would reduce jobs by 12,000. It says the jobs would be lost through natural attrition.

If you’re applying for a 457 visa…

From next month fees will rise to more than $1000. The cost for a family of four applying to the scheme will go from $450 to $5050.

Both Labor and the Coalition would do this.

If you’re a small-business owner…

Labor says it would cut the red tape by administering paid parental leave through Centrelink for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Labor would give an upfront tax deduction for small businesses when they buy equipment and assets worth up to $10,000.

Labor would also reduce GST reporting requirements from four times a year to just once a year for businesses with a turnover of less than $20 million a year.

Labor would also extend the free small business superannuation clearing house to businesses with less than 100 employees from July 1, 2014.

The Coalition would spend $6 million to create a Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. It would also spend $3 million to improve access for small businesses to Commonwealth contracts. It would also spend $1 billion to cut red tape including changing superannuation payment methods.

The Coalition would also spend $1 million to extend unfair contract protections so they cover small businesses as well as consumers.

But the Coalition would axe a $6500 instant asset write off for small businesses with turnover less than $2 million.

It would also axe a tax-loss carry-forward scheme, which allows businesses to claim losses of up to $1 million against tax they have paid in the previous two years.

If you work in manufacturing…

Labor would invest $35.6 million to assist about 6800 new and existing manufacturing workers in upskilling for hi-tech manufacturing.

The Coalition would introduce a $50 million manufacturing transition grant program over two years. Grants would be available to communities, business and stakeholders to help them transition to competitive industries.

It would also restore funding to Export Market Development Grants starting with an initial $50 million boost.

If you work in health or community services…

Labor would spend $30.6 million to support more than 5800 workers to be upskilled in sectors such as disability services, aged care and childhood education.

If you work in the car industry…

Labor would give a $500 million boost to the car industry funding to the end of the decade and $300 million a year beyond 2020. If you work for Toyota, Labor would contribute $23.6 million towards Toyota’s $123 million investment in its local manufacturing operations. The government would also pay $1 million this financial year and $1.4 million per year from 2014 to 2017 in assistance to Ford Australia workers.

The Coalition would cut $500 million from the Automotive Transformation Scheme and would launch a Productivity Commission review into public funding for the Australian car industry.

If you’re working and studying…

Labor would defer and review the introduction of a $2000 cap on tax deductions for self-education expenses.

The Coalition has called on Labor to scrap the cap completely but has not committed to doing the same thing.

If you work for defence…

Labor would introduce measures so all families of Australian Defence Force personnel would be able to receive reimbursement for gap expenses when visiting a general practitioner.

The Coalition would also reimburse ADF families for out of pocket GP expenses. The Coalition would return defence spending to 2 percent of GDP from the current level of 1.59 percent within a decade.

If you don’t like the carbon tax…

Labor would terminate a fixed carbon price from next July. Families would save an average of $380 in the first year, plus the household assistance package linked to the carbon tax would remain in place. Labor would instead introduce an emissions trading scheme with a floating carbon price of about $6 a tonne.

The Coalition would axe the carbon tax. It would instead establish an Emissions Reduction Fund of $3 billion to allocate money in response to emission reduction tenders to projects designed to reduce carbon emissions.

If you’re in a same-sex relationship…

And want to get married, Labor would introduce a Bill into the Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days of being re-elected.

If you use the internet…

Labor would roll out the National Broadband Network which aims for speeds of 1000 megabits per second by 2021.

The Coalition broadband would aim for at least 25-100 Mbps by 2016 and 50-100 Mbps by 2019.

If you’re planning on having a baby…

You are eligible to receive Labor’s current paid parental leave. This is 18 weeks’ pay at the rate of the national minimum wage.

The Coalition would give mothers who give birth after July 2015 six months’ leave on full pay, capped at $75,000.

If you are a victim of terrorism…

The Coalition would provide assistance to Australians and their families who have been victims of terrorism overseas since September 10, 2001, up to a maximum of $75,000. Currently, this assistance would be available for future victims but is not available for existing victims.

If you are an Indigenous Australian…

Labor promises a large number of measures under its Closing the Gap policy, including

$777 million over three years to continue the National Partnership Agreement for health and

$1.5 billion to provide job seekers in remote communities with local support.

The Coalition would spend $10 million to fund four trial sites for jobs training for Indigenous Australians.

It would also provide up to $45 million to support the GenerationOne employment model, creating job opportunities for up to 5000 indigenous Australians. The Coalition would also establish a Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

If you plan on buying a car…

Labor would axe the fringe benefits tax break employees receive for buying cars through salary sacrifice.

The Coalition would abandon these planned changes.

If you have a disability…

Labor would invest more than $14 billion for disability services over seven years for DisabilityCare.

The Coalition has also committed to implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

If you require aged care…

Labor would invest $3.7 billion in aged care reform over five years, including more than 40,000 extra home care packages.

If you’re a victim of assault…

… that is sexual assault or domestic violence related, Labor would spend $31.2 million to support victims.

If you have health issues…

Labor would spend $50 million to improve care for stroke sufferers, $10.5 million on emergency asthma training, $3.2 million funding for Arthritis Australia, $21 million for family mental health services and $30 million for STI and blood borne virus prevention.

The Coalition would increase mental health spending by $430 million, spend $35 million to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes and provide a further $200 million over five years for dementia research.

If you have private health insurance…

The Coalition would “fully restore” the private health insurance rebate. The 30 percent rebate is currently means-tested for individuals earning more than $83,000 and families earning more than $166,000. Singles earning more than $129,000 and families earning over $258,000 receive no rebate.

The Coalition would also scrap the means test but has not said when they would do this.

If you’re a senior…

The Coalition would index eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. This would allow more self-funded retirees to access the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at the concessional rate.

If you run a company…

The Coalition would cut the company tax rate by 1.5 percent from 1 July 2015. But if you run one of the 3200 biggest companies in Australia, the Coalition would impose a 1.5 percent levy to pay for part of its Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

If you’re a smoker…

Labor would increase the smoking tax so a pack of 20 cigarettes would cost you an extra $5.25 by the end of 2016.

The Coalition would increase the smoking tax by the same amount.

If you pay super…

The Coalition will delay increases to the super guarantee. This means it will be frozen at its current rate of 9.25 percent until July 1, 2016, when it will increase to 9.5 percent.

If you’re anything like me, after reading that you’re probably picking yourself up from the floor!  A Murdoch article that actually makes Labor look good! Now we just have to get the message across.

Your vote might just be worth something after all.

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