Nation Held to Ransom, Gillard Fails Again

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in the middle ages again, under the feudal system, well it’s a bit like this:  the peasants, the poor people, are treated one way under the law and the land owners another way.  For example, if a peasant slaps a noble, that noble is within his rights to dish out one of many different forms of medieval punishment and torture.  But should a noble slap a peasant, that peasant is expected to know his place and beg forgiveness at the feet his lord and master.  Under the feudal system only landowners existed, if people happened to live on land owned by someone else, then they were the property of that person.  In short, if you didn’t own property, you didn’t exist.

How does this relate to QANTAS and the 99%?

Only recently the 99% were forcibly removed from public places by police because they were obstructing public areas like roads, bridges and buildings by blocking access.  Blocking access.  There were no courts, no tribunals, no government dialogue, just the firm hand of the law coming down on angry people.  One wonders if any politicians spent more than 5 minutes thinking about the protestors.  It was an open and shut case: one can’t hold the government to ransom over personal debts and declaring civil disobedience until one gets what one wants.  Why?  Because under a democracy the government is supposed to be the representative of people.  The government is sovereign because the people elect it.

On Friday, QANTAS, decided to block public access to the airways.  They did this without warning, without making an appeal to the government to intervene beforehand and in response to 6 hours of strikes from a fraction of their workforce.  They effectively told the government to stop the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, rush back to Canberra and declare the strike action by their workers illegal or else 35,000 people will lose their jobs.  At this point in time QANTAS is no different from the 99%: a bunch of cry babies complaining about their own personal problems and demanding that government fix it for them at the drop of a hat.  However, Julia Gillard has demonstrated again that she’s no leader, she’s just a politician.

Unlike with the 99% the police did not come knocking at Alan Joyce’s and the QANTAS board of directors’ doors and arrest them for being a public nuisance.  Instead, the government isn’t just listening to these cry babies, the government is actually giving them a tribunal hearing for their stunt.  How can a tribunal be expected to pass an unbiased decision while the whole country is at ransom?  The judges might as well have guns to their heads.  This isn’t even a decision the judges should be making, it should be an executive decision not a judicial one since no complaint was issued by QANTAS before the decision to ground their fleet.

Do we live in a country of equals?

In short, because wealthy people like Alan Joyce and co are owners of people, 35,000 of them, they are being treated very differently by the government.  Instead of arresting them for treason and seizing control of QANTAS for the public interest, the government are legitimising rich people to act like spoiled children whenever they don’t get their way.  Sorry, Julia Gillard, but have you read the name of this country?  The Commonwealth of Australia, commonwealth: a system of government charged with the protection and care of the common people.  Alan Joyce and his cronies are not the common people, the 35,000 workers and 70,000+ people stranded around the world are the common people.  Julia Gillard: grow some fucking balls and realise that the needs of 100,000+ are more important than the temper tantrums of fat, rich, petty, morally retarded business people.  Don’t let feudalism take hold and protect the sovereignty of elected government else we are living in a nation of corporations and anarchy and not a nation of laws.

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Categories: Business, People, Politics, Law

Author:Jason Sutherland

Resist the temptation to assume that you're always right or wrong. Never succumb to thinking you're so insignificant to trust your own thoughts and feelings. Always be responsible and listen carefully to others before passing judgement. Don't trust governments bearing stolen goods.

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18 Comments on “Nation Held to Ransom, Gillard Fails Again”

  1. rich
    October 31, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Gillard can’t seize his airline because it is privately owned and would represent sovereign risk where the right of property is involved; despite the disruption, this isn’t Zimbabwe. I would say this is a result of the Fair Work Australia act empowering the unions to deal with the “greedy business people” in a long brewing dispute that had this natural consequence, and chronic lack of leadership to amend.

    Joyce is acting with endorsement of shareholders and the board, to lead a fight back against the unions.

    Some of those 35,000 employees have few reasons to cry poor:
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/its-hard-work-being-a-qantas-baggage-handler/story-fn558imw-1226165298654

    • October 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      Sorry Rich, my reply to this is below, I clicked the wrong “reply” button by mistake.

    • LuciB
      November 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      Wow, apparently both my husband and I earn HALF of what a baggage handler does, and yet they are demanding a large pay hike while inconveniencing thousands of Australians. That’s rich.

      • November 2, 2011 at 10:46 am #

        Yes, I wasn’t feeling sympathetic to the baggage handlers either. Their demands were unreasonable and could have been dealt with without creating this much chaos.

    • November 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      The Greed of the 99%. These union employees don’t know when to shut up and be thankful!

  2. October 31, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    I was actually marginally pro-QANTAS against the unions before this stunt. It is a unreasonable level of escalation. The tribunal’s decision (which I was only able to hear about on the radio on the way to work this morning) was indecisive: not taking a side, not punishing QANTAS, not dealing with the issue which I thought was fair enough: one can’t settle a dispute with a loaded gun to ones head.

    However, QANTAS has effectively won though, they’ve slapped the government in the face and gotten away with it. A labor government of all things.

    Constitutionally it is a bit hairy, parliament would still have to authorise such action, however, I didn’t want to bog the article down with complex legalese. It is enough to say that Julia Gillard is showing no intention whatsoever to take such leadership in this matter.

    As for Tony Abbott… he’s not just as bad, he’s worse: taking big business’ side and effectively saying government should automatically give in to the petty demands of business. I’m not taking a side in the politics because they’re all losers and Australia deserves better than them all.

  3. rich
    October 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    The view of Joyce and upper management in QANTAS is myopic and this level of escalation is unacceptable, but I can see why they did it. They could have a protracted and continuing battle with the unions (which has already cost the company 68 million dollars in lost labor) whose members, with already generous conditions, could have forced the company to suffer death by a thousand cuts

    OR

    Joyce and their cronies could take a stand at this politically opportune time to highlight the issue before the company bleeds any more money. They are reasoning that , “if we do nothing , we will die anyway, let’s do a decisive stroke instead”

    because it’s been clear from the continuing dispute that the unions and QANTAS are uninterested in bending on the issue of pay.

  4. rich
    October 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    The Labor party has feigned “we only had two hours notice!”

    Interestingly, it seems that Martin Ferguson warned of this three weeks before and Labor chose not to notice,

    “Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson, following an address to a tourism industry conference in Canberra, said the sector’s patience was running out with the unions.”

    15 October 2011

    http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/business-old/fair-work-could-end-qantas-strife-tourism-minister-martin-ferguson/story-e6frg2qu-1226166178482

  5. Mr. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Jason, this article is a stretch – even for you…. It has nothing to do with the Feudal system or differing treatment of rich and poor, or holding people for ransom.

    leaving a bus in the depot is not the same as parking it across 4 lanes of a highway.
    Your suggesting that the government should have the power to seize control of companies if it believes it’s for the good of the ‘common people’?!

    I know the whole point of intentious is to provoke disagreement, and sometimes it can be fun to point fingers willy-nilly and complain about things just because it makes us feel better… but outrage for the sake of outrage? protest for the sake of protest? I didn’t realise you believed in this whole 99% thing so strongly…

    by the way, I’ve adopted this alias 🙂

    • October 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      “It has nothing to do with the Feudal system or differing treatment of rich and poor, or holding people for ransom.”

      What is the Feudal system then? Please, educate me. You might want to look up the concept of “satisfaction” in terms of dispute resolution between members of different classes. Much of it is still relevant today.

      The government were stranded in Perth along with the heads of government from 17 different countries we’re all allied with the weekend before cup day forcing lawyers and judges to work all weekend to resolve what is essentially a petty dispute… If that’s not being held to ransom I don’t know what is.

      “leaving a bus in the depot is not the same as parking it across 4 lanes of a highway.”

      Please, we’re not talking about one bus and one road. We’re talking about a vital organ telling the brain it isn’t going to take orders from it anymore.

      “I didn’t realise you believed in this whole 99% thing so strongly”

      Did I say I took 99% seriously? Ever? If you read very carefully you’ll notice I said the opposite: If we’re thumping the 99% we should thump the QANTAS leadership too. I’m clearly anti-99%.

      “by the way, I’ve adopted this alias”

      Good work, I was about to tell everyone who you are because it tells me in the admin screen and I’ve always known, but I thought I’d be nice and let you save face.

    • Mr. Anonymous
      November 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      lol… yeah, I figured there were plenty of ways you should have known even if your uber admin powers didn’t tell you explicitly 🙂 you actually first used the ‘Mr.’ and it sounds more official that way… glad you like it 🙂

      save face? what face? I have no face! – just a funky green squiggle… 🙂

      This doesn’t really seem like the best forum to educate you on Fugal system is or what it means to be held to ransom… perhaps it would have been prudent to do some prior research before basing your whole article on it though… 😛

  6. rich
    October 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    “Anyone remember Ansett? They were part of a cosy duopoly in domestic aviation for many years. The workers loved Ansett. The company was even voted Employer of the Year, just before it went broke. But the faintest whiff of competition caused the company to keel over. It was inefficient, overstaffed and hopelessly uncompetitive…
    ….the regulation of international landing slots provided Qantas with a degree of protection in respect of its international service…. This protection has now gone and the international division of Qantas has been losing money for some time. Less than one-fifth of departures from Australia are on Qantas planes. Overall, the company is not even returning its cost of capital – and bear in mind, airlines are capital-intensive operations.

    …the Fair Work act is working precisely as it was designed to work. That law creates the difficulty we’re observing. Unions have far too much power and management face one of two choices. Surrender to the unions and ultimately go out of business or go NUCLEAR. Congratulations to the Qantas management for choosing the latter option. This doesn’t mean that Qantas will survive in the long-run but it does indicate that Qantas has a management team that is committed to survival.
    ….
    What do the Qantas disputes and the latest developments tell us about the effectiveness of the Fair Work Act? The key issue is that under the act, there is essentially no prohibited content in agreements. And because of this, protected industrial action is available for the pursuit of virtually any matter.

    Qantas’ strategy is high-risk. The company has inconvenienced customers and possibly damaged the brand. The alternative for the company was to continue to endure a series of damaging rolling stoppages leading to large cumulative losses and also damaging the brand.”

    A right wing assessment by Professor Davidson

    The other interesting angle is that Gillard did not want to use section 424 of the Fair Work Act to quash the strike action for sympathy of her union backers.

    • November 1, 2011 at 8:00 am #

      I felt the strike action was based almost entirely around Alan Joyce’s pay raise, which I agree was stupid for the airline and for corporations to do in general because the evidence shows big CEO bonus actually lead to a slight decrease in performance not an improvement. That’s a lot of wasted money on something that doesn’t work… as the latest incident has shown.

      Gillard is too focussed on being popular to take any side in any dispute and ironically no one trusts her for it.

      • Anonymous
        November 1, 2011 at 10:00 am #

        The CEO and the board could have been thrown out at the AGM, as predicted by the union. They were not.

        Does the union have any fault in this matter?

    • November 1, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

      I agree, although it seems too suss that it was orchestrated the way it was, just after the AGM, just in time for shareholders not to be able to react, and with rumors (surfacing) that it was an option apparently building up within some high-level management days beforehand. Seems like something shareholders should have been warned about, people should’ve been told about, etc. Survival or not, I don’t see the benefit of keeping the entire country in the dark on the plan.

  7. rich
    November 1, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    The CEO and the board could have been thrown out at the AGM, as predicted by the union. They were not. So they have been judged by shareholders to be better to run the company than the union representatives, and were given a mandate to do so.

    I feel that the strike action is an attempt by the unions to blackmail QANTAS at the AGM. The strike action preceded Joyce’s payrise, so I would suggest your feeling on this matter needs revision.

    Does the union have any fault in this matter?

    • November 2, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Oh, the union gets to me too. They’re making unreasonable demands for sure. I’m completely ok with them sacking all the baggage handlers and replacing them with non-union labour, which would have been a much more acceptable response and it does have a precedent in Australia.

  8. rich
    November 2, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    The problem I see is that the Unions are behaving in concert. That means that there would be “sympathy strikes” on top of “cancelling strikes” during the slow bake. So if you tried to “sack all the baggage handlers”, I think not only is that unlawful (I must check the fair work act to be sure) but you would have strikes from the other unions to prevent the manoevre from being successful because, if it is, what stops QANTAS from sacking pilots or flight attendants and replacing?

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