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Through immigrant eyes – Part 1

| Edited

‘In recognising the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute’ - Thurgood Marshall

BRISBANE - Much like most superficial western democracies, the Australian economy is underpinned by a ruthless feudal system of indentured servitude, peonage or serfdom.

More recently, it is fashionably and somewhat deviously referred to as a gig economy, which disguises many sinister neoliberal features that secure and protect the interests of the powerful over the powerless.

A shallow and furtive engagement process obscures and further complicates statutory duty of care requirements and provides many notorious corporate brigands with a malevolent freedom to harm.

This typically consists of a loose and impassive tripartite arrangement between the host employer, labour hiring agency and the subjugated peons or ragged trousered philanthropists. Most of the victims are unable to forge any identity and are merely a dishonoured pay check or expensive dental invoice away from misery and destitution.

It leaves cohorts of oppressed itinerants surfing between mundane McJobs with fluctuating and erratic incomes without any prospects of career development.

Moreover, the impositions or chores no longer offer additional benefits such as vocational training, holiday entitlements, sick pay and maternity or parental leave and the inconsistent pittance merely puts a loaf of bread on the table and keeps many wolves from howling at the door.

The volatile predicament is often antagonised by wages of fear with stagnant remuneration, underemployment, wage theft, escalating costs and declining living standards, which have generated a pecuniary subsistence and deracinated any reliance on job security.

Many of the demoralised and embittered precariats endure a rapidly diminishing range of sociopolitical, cultural and economic rights or opportunities and a miasma of anomie emerges amidst the escalating insecurity, anxiety and despair.

It inevitably cultivates alienation and anger with a profound intolerance and distrust towards colleagues and strangers, which destroys communities of practice and extirpates learning, especially tacit knowledge.

This is exacerbated by a tyranny of bureaucracy within the federal government’s chaotic visa system and antagonised by coercive corporate business models.

These often include inequitable franchising arrangements, which are tantamount to extortion and typically involve the subjugation and exploitation of vulnerable and helpless migrants.

Despite the many bright lights, ostentatious advertising, opulence and executive bacchanalia, a ruthless heart of darkness prevails, which is underpinned by corporate impiety or perfidy with a contemptuous disregard for human rights, industrial relations and work health and safety legislation.

The incumbent government must ensure everyone has physical access to an affordable and sufficient supply of food and potable water, which fulfils specific dietary requirements.

This must be supplemented by equitable access to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health care, which includes provision of initial and emergency medical treatment, irrespective of nationality, residency or immigration status.

Furthermore, each individual has a fundamental right to reasonable conditions at work, which includes a safe and healthy working environment with ethical standards in beneficial surroundings supplemented by equal pay rates and freedom from discrimination or harassment.

Refugees and asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable and have no protection from their country of origin.

The incumbent federal government has special legal obligations, which ensure stateless or displaced individuals cannot be expelled from Australia.

There are also prescribed requirements covering the provision of reasonable accommodation and primary and secondary education programs.

These must be supplemented with suitable arrangements to seek and engage in proper, decent and legitimately paid employment, which reflect and align with established processes that are afforded to its citizens or permanent residents.



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Bernard Corden

Over a year later:

Wage theft, exploitation and modern slavery are often reported as isolated scandals — but for many new Australians, they’re a fact of life.

In August this year, the ABC asked people to write in with examples of exploitation — one response on Chinese social media platform WeChat summed up the general sentiment:

"It would be much easier to provide examples of businesses that don’t exploit migrant workers,” they wrote.

Dave Ekins

I think you’re right Phil. The silly opening paragraph got me going. Part 2 contextualises it for me and I actually agree with the sentiment.

Bernard Corden

Death of Sydney Uber Eats rider the fourth food delivery fatality in two months....

Philip Fitzpatrick

I think Bernard is talking about immigrants rather than asylum seekers Dave.

Bernard Corden

I can already hear the binary discourse and distinctive banjo chords drifting down from many of the Grand Wizards in the deep north beyond the Pine River but wait..........there's more.

William Dunlop

Lindsay - The harsh reality of time B4, bearing in mind the Scottish Highland 'clearances' and such atrocities, noting the dependence of the British Army on the Highlanders from troopers to generals.

Whilst in service there was mandatory wearing of Highland dress, which was forbidden to be worn on leave in Scotland.

The quantity of brass officers that came from the wee Isle of Skye.

Lindsay F Bond

One of my family's forebears was an "immigrant" albeit 1830s, and conveyed to Van Diemens' Land.

While its a laugh to suggest he had a seven year holiday in (the now) 'Tassie', the irony of any present jest melts away when coupled to the fact of his age and circumstance of departing his birth place and his birth family.

If it was that the British system at the time held dim view of pilfering by young boys, the details may be quite astonishing to folk in our now 21st century.

He was a lad of a mere nine years at Greenock, Scotland, taken into custody and convicted in legal proceedings in Glasgow, sentenced to death and conveyed to the Medway (Thames) in England, confined in a prison hulk for six months, then by way of remit, transported to his seven years at Point Puer (Port Arthur).

The whole episode had never been told to me by my family, and I came across it only by searching records.

The simple word is 'horrible' (thank you, Dave).

If any tough times and tribes are the topics, top of my list was that treachery of humanity upon itself, where advantage is sought by sordid disregard (or perchance unknowing) by the 'some' who scribe rules and refuse recognitions.

Any who suggest Australian attitudes are at odds with their own might look at antecedents of alienation more circumspectly. Its not all about the fight, nor the right, but could give rise to gain, from insight.

Jim Moore

As part of the recent USA election cycle, Californian voters were asked in one of their referenda whether they agreed or not with a proposal that people like Uber drivers should be considered normal employees with "normal" employee entitlements, or should they continue to be classed as contractors with no rights or entitlements.

The electorate voted down the question, obviously because en masse they prefer cheap delivery of the largely junk food they consume over seeing workers compensated with fair wages and conditions.

They must think, as long as it is somebody else and not me suffering the effects of gig economy activity, then it it is not my problem.

So much for the citizenry seeing the dangers of the gig economy. What hope is there of governments seeing them?

Dave Ekins

Sounds like horrible place for a migrant. Perhaps they should look elsewhere.

Or perhaps they could even write to the government of that country suggesting that if they can’t make it more livable then they’re not even going to think about hiring a boat to drop them off.

That would make those awful neoliberals and ordinary liberals think twice.

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