Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Plibersek Industrial Relations Philosophy - I own you body and soul

The not-for-profit workforce
It was estimated that 5.2 million Australian volunteered in 2007 (ABS 2007b). Of these, 4.6 million were estimated to volunteer with the NFP sector. Around two-thirds of these volunteer with NFPs that do not have employees. The volunteer workforce was estimated in the ABS satellite accounts to provide over $14.6 billion of unpaid labour in 2006-07.

The theme of the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Volunteer is ‘Inspire the Volunteer in You’. Pierre, your work as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development and your fundraising for Habitat for Humanity has certainly inspired many here today.
Thank you for asking me to be with you today to help launch the Australian Volunteers for International Development Program.
Australians are a generous and compassionate people. In 2006, over 5 million people – that’s more than one-in-three adult Australians – volunteered for an estimated 700,000 not-for-profit and non-government organisations.
[Minister for Human Services and Minister for Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek, Transcript: Launch of the Australian Volunteers for International Development, 2011]

LAST week, Tanya Plibersek challenged Australian governments and businesses to create a stronger and more sustainable volunteering sector. This week, 37,000 employees in her department were told that if they wished to engage in volunteering activities in the future, they would have to get their manager's permission first…..
For the first time, unpaid weekend volunteer work will come under the scrutiny of departmental supervisors, and public sector employees must get approval before undertaking such work. Employees must apply for a renewal of that approval every 12 months and will also be subject to a ''regular review'' of their activities.
The new policy also requires public servants to tell the department if the nature of their volunteering duties within a charitable or not-for-profit organisation changes during the 12-month period.
[Brisbane Times,10 December 2011, Public servants told to seek approval to volunteer]

Last week the Federal Department of Human Services tried to turn Australia’s volunteering culture on its head.

Ms. Plibersek denies any input into this new policy, however the minister of the day sets the tone for such changes to occur.

She personally, the department she heads and government generally need to recognise that their workers are neither serfs, indentured servants nor outright slaves – they do not own them body and soul.

An employer has a right to direct an employee for the period of each day which represents the agreed work day – not one jot more than that. Traditionally this broke each day of the working week down into Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest.

The sort of skewed thinking which demands 24/7 allegiance to the wishes of an employer more properly belongs to the likes of the Liberal and National parties not the Australian Labor Party.

Ms.Plibersek needs to remember to which political party she actually belongs, as does the Prime Minister under whose leadership this attitude towards public servants has obviously been allowed to flourish.

Cartoon from ClipartOf

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