Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Free Enterprise

On Monday and Tuesday I stayed in a big city hotel in Brisbane. This was necessary because I was being offsider to my wife who was attending a couple of conferences.

I'm more often on the road lodging in bush motels than their metropolitan counterparts, so the contrasts are interesting.

One of the most obvious differences is that the city hotels (in Brisbane at least) are almost completely staffed by Asians, with the exception of the desk staff. In other words, the cleaners, kitchen hands and waiters and waitresses are Asian.

Generally, they are courteous, efficient and obliging. There was one small exception to this, when I asked for a pot of Fourex and got a pint. Pints are unheard of in the bush. This bloke must have spent some time in the UK. I drank it anyway. He called me "sir",  and when I responded by saying my knighthood hadn't yet arrived, he looked confused.
I began to consider the reason for this lack of locals. Is it because Australians won't take these jobs? Maybe the Asian staff are simply better in terms of their work ethic? Perhaps it's simply management policy?

I did some research. The hotel is owned by a Philipino consortium. The staff are on contract to other Philipino companies who recruit back home. There are also family connections. The reason that no locals are employed is simply that all this activity takes place overseas. The jobs are not advertised in Australia. It's simply a closed shop. Whilst the staff were forthcoming about all of this information, not one of them was prepared to disclose wage rates.

This is obviously unsatisfactory. Not only are these people being exploited, opportunities for locals are denied. I'm surprised that the management can get away with it.

Maybe we should take a leaf out of the Vietnamese experience. The big city hotels I've stayed at in Vietnam are staffed by locals. This may have something to do with the fact that no foreign company can own outright any enterprise in Vietnam. By law, there must be majority local ownership.

We're told in the media (especially the Australian) that Unions are evil because they encourage closed shop situations. Yet it's apparently OK for our resources (especially our employment opportunities) to be sold off overseas.

It's OK - of course, because free enterprise is sacred. It's free to those who own and control it. Everyone else can get stuffed.

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