Sunday, March 22, 2009

Work Choices

On Saturday we went into the City and decided to wander up to the Royal Exhibition Buildings where a Travel Expo was being staged.   We'd been to a backpackers expo there a few weeks ago and I have to admit that was more to our style than this one - trips were more expensive and more aimed towards the upper end of the market and to be honest, out of our price range.   But whilst wandering around I bumped into a lady who is a member of the Board that sacked me last year.  She ignored me, unsurprisingly.

I should take Richard Carlson's advice on not sweating the small stuff and for the most part I do.  But if I'd asked myself a year ago whether my sacking would still be important a year down the track my answer would have been yes and no.  In fact, when I see the people responsible I find that the anger is still not far from the surface, and this lady bears a bit more responsibility for that anger than some of the others because of her hypocrisy.

For those non-Aussie readers I need to explain a little about the industrial realtions system in this country to explain why I call her a hypocrit.

Under the previous Federal Liberal government a package of industrial relations reforms were introduced under the banner "Work Choices" and this became a major issue at the last Federal election in November 2007, to the point that it was a reason why the former government was thrown out.

Now this particular person is a member of the other major political party and was outspoken and vehement in her opposisition to work choices.   She was also a committed unionist and had in fact been in the forefront of a march by the teachers union on the office of our local member of Parliament, also in 2007.

Work Choices meant that I was unable to sue my former employer for unfair dismissal because they employed less than 100 people.   So this woman, an outspoken opponent of Work Choices, got the protection of that legislation because it meant I was unable to launch a case.   My legal advice was that I had other grounds for suing them, both for breach of contract and for deceptive and misleading conduct, but the advice was that they may have been more difficult to win, whereas the unfair dismissal was pretty much a fait accomli.

I have had someone ask me how I know this lady didn't defend me and argue for my retention and it's true I can't say she didn't.   What I can say is that she remains a board member and therefore if she had argued on my behalf, she did not have the courage of her convictions otherwise she would have resigned from the Board as well.

The other major difficulty I have with this woman is that she was one of three Board members who knew that at the time they were sacking me, we were buying a house.  She in fact knew that the day before I was sacked, we had put a 10% deposit on the house which we stood to lose had I not been able to find work immediately.  She was party to the partyline they pedalled after sacking me that it was just "unfortunate timing".   Most people agree that is was morally and ethically corrupt.  It wasn't as if the sacking wasn't planned, in fact they had decided to get rid of me in February, but held off telling me because it suited them politically.

So I am still sweating this small stuff as much as I wish I could put it behind me.   I wish I could let go of the anger, but at the moment it is still there.

As a postscript, in the past few days the Work Choices legislation has been repealed and as it now stands I would be able to sue them for unfair dismissal, but not retrospectively unfortunately.

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