Let’s Experiment as Never Before

There are so many tragedies appearing before our (locked down) eyes with the impact of Covid19 that it seems human nature to constantly try to find the silver linings.


One of the things I have been thinking so much about is the opportunity for us to experiment socially and economically in ways that were once mostly unthinkable.  One idea I have is, whilst we have heavily reduced university places in 2021, to let all the 2020 Year 12 graduates at a basic competency minimum, into the university course of their choice. Then see how they did 12 months later and how to make (or not) some significant changes in higher education.


This week though with the Cedar Meatworks in Victoria and Newmarch House  in NSW, is to take the opportunity to really assess their labour and management profiles.   An abbatoir so different to aged care would provide some great insights.  Mostly though we would have two case study examples of the casual and visa workforces; their sick leave entitlements and usage; eligibility and use of Jobseeker/Jobkeeper; low English speaking workers; labour hire supply chains; hiring and firing practices; ownership of the businesses.  In other words, the dynamics at play.


Surely the biggest danger facing us over Winter 2020 is the casualised workforce that mostly does not have sick leave (or it is included in their pay somehow); or other low or threatened (from hire and fire) paid workers; or visa holders/students; and anyone in the arts and hospitality industries; who must go to any work so they can have food and shelter.


If the Federal Government continues to refuse to support a whole heap of Australians (and our guests) which they say they are determined to do – these people will do all they can to protect their own well being and their families.  Even if they have cold or ‘flu symptoms. Even if they are concerned about their workplace for some reason.


Of course to undertake these case studies needs more work but they do provide an excellent opportunity for Victoria and NSW and all the relevant organisations and businesses to really understand what went on, what we need to do to address it, what works and what does not in this Covid19 environment.


The CovidSafe App may become part of it but definitely cannot be relied on for any vulnerable people not willing to join it; distancing has worked but cannot work in meatworks or aged care; testing and isolation has worked but does not count for the asymptomatic or anyone who avoids being tested.


I do not work in any of these areas.  However, in 1985-86 I did research and write my Honours thesis at UNSW on the casualisation of work.  Already it was huge.  Since then we have become a global world, a digital world.  And ever increasingly the nature of work and the way work is organised has had a major adjustment between labour and capital.  What has not changed is human behaviour to rank their own well being and that of their families or loved ones as primary in how they conduct their daily lives.