Not Just Bottle Washers

Australian seafarer responds to attack by Senator The Hon. Eric Abetz Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Senate

That Unions and workers in general and the MUA in particular have always and continue to be attacked by Right Wing ideologues especially those in the Liberal/National Coalition parties does not come as a "bolt from the blue" to good Unions, unionists or workers in this country.

How quickly you, Senator, have forgotten the reasons you are in "Opposition"  a correct Westminster system title suitably attached to the Party and representative like you who supported the Howard government attempts to destroy one of societies legitimate social groups and its workers during the Patricks dispute, with deliberate covert planning, soldiers and attack dogs.

Your reference to 'cooks and bottle-washers' etc, is offensive, and dismissive of legitimate workers bargaining claims entitled under law to seek improvements in the remuneration and conditions of their employment. Your language is reminiscent of the 19th century view of 'workers' and personally, as disdainful as Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake" and of course we know the lessons of her fate.

Not only are your comments dismissive, they are inaccurate, especially coming from someone who in their current incarnation is the Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Perhaps you picked up your information from one of the HR Nichols society dinners or in the bunker of the Liberal party attack dogs with the likes of Tuckey, Heffernan, Abbot with Joyce listening at the keyhole.

Cooks and Caterers work 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week for their pay which is $95, 000, not five hours as you suggest in your calculations. We are required to have recognised trade certification to be employed in the maritime industry. Any employer will tell you, if you listened that is, that Cooks in particular play a central role in providing high quality meals for workers on the ships, not "basic meals" and play just as crucial a role in shipboard harmony and morale, and hence productive input. Other caterers provide a necessary clean hygienic living environment in ships that are not just workhorses but our homes for that period and many of them in 24 hour operational mode.

Good unionists are well aware of the unfinished business of the Howard years on  I.R. laws and workers in general will be alarmed and forewarned by your rhetoric, your attack on us and our legitimate bargaining process is but a Machiavellian disguise to attack not only workers and the MUA, but the ALP by any means, on behalf of  the business community you really represent rather than the election rhetoric of  working  for "all Australians" It is coupled with the frustration  and fury of readying the "Opposition " in an election year, for the unfinished agenda  partially spelled out by the new Liberal leadership under Abbot, towards  working people and I.R. Laws in general with a return to work-choices type legislation.

In the climate of the GFC, and its preceeding years when you were in the Howard government, did we see such press releases alerting the public about the exorbitant salaries that the business leaders your Party represents were achieving and the rorting of the unstable system of Capitalism that almost saw its collapse last year? No we did not. True to your political colours you attack those members of society whose only representatives are their unions, and in that context, the very same people effected and burdened by its instability and financial/working consequences.

When I look at your matrix on dishwashing -by the way 'seamen' don't do that, caterers do-  let's consider a matrix for politicians of your ilk and how their hours are defined, by attendance in parliament, hours of actual work, their constituency business and their own business if they have them. As distinct from the workers 'open and transparent' bargaining processes, your 'wages' paid by the very people you denigrate, are decided in an undemocratic process hidden from public scrutiny except for the outcome. I'd suggest, in your own words, your receiving 'excessive pay increases' for work done, and your actual "skills" in your current role to be viewed not by any 'skill' you have acquired in Industrial law or hands-on involvement, but as a party hack willing to "blitzkrieg" the public with lies and distortions as your press release points out and your position as "Opposition" spokesman on I.R. demands.

Not expecting an objective reply from your or your party.


MUA’s outrageous wageMMUA's outrageous wage demand

Back to the bad old days of the strikebound nation