November 2004 issn 0310462
GOVT'S : “SHAME,
BLAME & FRAME” GAME !
JOB NETWORK'S “WORK
VULTURES” ATTACK JOBLESS!
An educated middle aged Sydney male artist and writer (“M”) is being falsely dragged through the courts by the new Manager of a “Job Futures” Job Network agency – on their trumped up AVO complaint supported by the police. This all started on 20 September after new Manager we call “L”, asked him to leave after he aid he was going to complain to the Dept of Employment about how their staff had been abusing him and that the agency we call “Work Vultures”, repeatedly refused to respond to his written and verbal complaints to his “employment Consultant” Alison. In 2003 he was able to get job that matched his university degree an diploma, before he was forced to come under “work Vultures” again – since he had to start regularly attending a Job Network agency to keep getting the dole.
FEMALE DOMINATED WORKFORCE
He only went there as they were the only Job Network site he could find (at that time) that had any male “employment consultants” at all. Ironicaly the Work Vultures” one soon left anyway. With a wage subsidy at the beginning of the 2003 community sector job, plus some union coverage, he may still be in that job in a female dominated employment field. The first thing that happened when he went to “Work Vultures” in about early 2004, was that they breached him – falsely claiming that he had failed to attend a course that in fact they had never required him to do. The staff person, Geoff, who activated he breach, even tried on the phone to he Centrelink “authorised officer” to argue (over and over) that the clearly wrong breach should still go ahead. (According to the “CentreNet” website – a first activity test breach costs an 18% reduction in the dole for 26 weeks – or a $1000 fine).
“M” was able to get the breach cancelled by Centrelink, as it wasn't mentioned in his “activity agreement”. However “Work Vultures” made no apology of any sort for their “mistake”. The had also considered breaching him for not taking a heavy lifting job – though he had explained at the time that medical tests showed he couldn't do it. In about early September, near the end of his compulsory “job search group” two hour session, Alison told him to immediately see their “case manager” Larry, who “M” had never met before. Larry straightaway launched into his supposed analysis of “M"'s alleged barriers to employment – falsely suggesting he had a “hygiene” problem and needed interview skills. “M” was in the middle of trying to urgently complete a written job application with a very tight deadline. Larry should have appreciated “M”'s concentration on that complicated job application process – as he admitted his only “qualification” to be a “case manager” was that he had formerly managed a business. Apparently anyone can be a “case manager” and dispense instant wisdom to people thy have just met. “M” wrote a letter of complaint about Larry's comments to Alison - who never gave “M” any feedback about it (a clear breach of the Job Network “code of practice”)
“DOOR BITCH” FROM HELL
Meanwhile “M” was being given a hard time by their Receptionist Yasmin – who told him in their public foyer area – that he “should learn some manner” after he asked her during his mid September attendance – where Alison might be. She initially refused to identify herself – but apparent then Acting Manager, told “M” her name after he complained about her (eg “we're not here to be punished”). Since she had always been so rude to him, he had avoided her as much as possible since he had been attending there weekly, but she usually had the only operating/available Fax machine (and stapler) in the place. He was therefore stick with talking to her sometimes. Alison said Yasmin was like a “policeman” for them – so she was entitled to say anything she liked to clients – even though she said it in the public reception area . “M” had already had some sleepless nights (including the night before Yasmin's abusive “behaviour” comment – due to ongoing illegal activities by a gang operating in a flat in his Dept of Housing block – so he decided he'd had enough abuse from their staff. He said he would not talk to Yasmin again until he got a written apology from “Work Vultures”.
On about 13 September (during his usual weekly periodic detention there) the Acting Manager and Alison approached him – saying they'd like to talk to him in private. He said that if they anted to interview him – he'd like to be able to tape it. On his next weekly attendance on 20 September, an unknown female sat next to him as he worked on job search from the newspaper and asked to shake his hand. He declined This rather butch forceful person then said she was the new Manager. “M” had brought a small cassette recorder with him – in case the then acting Manager and Alison by some miracle had actually listened to his request to tape any private interview. This new Manager even wanted to force him to shake hands with her (a custom only related to business relationships as far as he was concerned) so there seemed no chance she would even listen to his request to tape their interview. The tape recorder was his this pocket away from the new Manger – so really only his own voice was likely to be picked up at all. Since she seems so determined to ignore anything he said – he decided to turn on the tape recorder. Comments in brackets are those hard to make out from tape.
“WORK VULTURES” SHOW : LIVE
(let me tell you something), I didn't do anything wrong.
L: (some comments about us needing to talk in private)
M: Its all public as far as I'm concerning (ie if she's trying to provoke or breach me – that's a public act)
M: So I said to her Yasmin), last Tuesday – whatever (the name of the) woman on the front thing (ie Reception), “where's Alison (“employment consultant” hiding)?”, and she said -”you ought to (should) learn some manners”. I said “that's humour”. She's got no right to say that to me – that I should learn some manners. The time before that, the other guy (Larry) there, said I had hygiene problems. What are you (running here) a jail or something? What's the idea – I'm just coming here looking for work. (Now Alison says ) I should apologise to her (Yasmin). She's always giving me funny looks that woman. She's rude to everyone. She's not a policeman.
L: Can I ask you something (why won't you shake hands with me?)
M: That's a business thing. If you want to give me a job, I'd shake hands with you.
M: There's no law saying I've got to shake someone's hand.
M: So, what's your name
L: My name is “L”
M: What I want from you is that if I'm gong to talk to her (Yasmin) again, is an apology, a written apology. The other thing I want is someone to put in writing what I actually did...All I did was to try and find out where Alison was. What did I do that I need to apologise for? I don't get it. I don't get it.
M: ....now you're making out (that) I'm a bad person for not shaking hands with you!
L: ......you're agitated....
M: I'm not agitated. I'm saying – I've already asked for n apology. She (Yasmin) said I should learn some manners. What's that? What is she talking about? What did I do? All I said was “where's Alison hiding?” (in a friendly manner) Just like that! She's always rude to people
L: (Comment about how I'm treating her, L, “at the moment”).
M: How did I treat you (just because) I won't shake hands with you.?
M: End of conversation. Obviously there's going to be no resolution – or any apology. Noone's going to put it i writing. Am I going o be breached for this?
M: I didn't want to come of one of these places near where I lived – because they (all Job Network agencies) treat people badly (anyway) and I didn't want to have to come down the street an see (staff) people (who) come out of here ....This is the way you operate....well, you know the way she (Yasmin) treats people ...I got out there (to Reception) - “where's Alison hiding?” I said “that's humour”- she doesn't get it.
M: Treat you like what?
L: (“I invited you to breakfast and you rejected it” - before tape started I said I'd had n breeakfast after queuing in Centrelink for half an hour)
M: You didn't say that at all. You just said “do you want breakfast?”
L: (saying something about going to breakfast now)
M: I'd (have to) talk while while we have breakfast
M: (so are you going) to breach me because I didn't shake your hand?
L: ........all I know is.......
M: Alison says I should apologise – what did I say, what did I do? I don't know – and I want (Yasmin) to apologise for what she said. Why did she say it? I don't get it! In other words, anyone who comes in here has no right to a sense of humour? We're just objects, right? Is she a policeman? Alison said “that's right, she's a policeman”. She (Alison) has admitted that's what she (Yasmin) does. Obviously I'm not going to get any explanation as to why Alison said I've got to apologise. I don't know - “she's a policewoman_ - she can treat me any way she likes.... and I'm not going to get an apology about what she said.
M: You've got no dispute settling procedure at all. The case manager guy (Larry) talked about my “hygiene” - he's got no right to do that.
L: (“we should talk about this in private” which would be in their interview room – where I discovered they have a jamming devise to stop tape recorders picking up any conversation – just a buzz comes up).
M: (I like to have) plenty of witnesses. You haven't answered my questions.
L: (can we talk about it over breakfast – outside a cafe where virtually no sound of even me speaking would be picked up)
M: When I have breakfast, I want to be able to digest it.
L: (....and have a conversation.....shake hands)
M: It's a business thing – a business situation. I don't want to continue (doing this today)
L: (refers to seeing me talk to Alison today about Larry's “hygiene” comment – when Larry himself happened to pass by).
M: Its the first time I (talked) to him about it. I wrote a note to Alison – but no apology (resulted from that). No apology (about Larry's hygiene comment). There's no rights here. It's as simple as that.
M: We don't have any rights. You have all the rights. We have no rights.
M: I complain about (Larry's) hygiene (comment) and what's happened? No form of apology!
L: (denies I complained – interesting as she admitted she's only been there for three days)
M: I did – I (put it) in writing.
TAPE RECORDER PROBABLY TURNED OFF AS “L” GOES OFF FOR SOME TIME TO GET DEPT OF EMPLOYMENT COMPLAINTS CONTACT DETAILS (but not including a mailing address as I repeatedly requested - I might have wound back tape a bit too much to cover period while she went away)
M: I want t make (the complaint) in writing so I can
give it to my local member as well.
L: (you should move to another Job Network agency perhaps she worked out that my newly advised limited heavy working capacity could mean less outcome payments for them).
M: I tried to get to the Maroubra (Work Vultures) but they were full
L: I can't get access to the stapler – because I have to talk to whatsy (Yasmin) who has the only one (on her receptionist front desk). I don't want to talk to her anymore (until receiving a written apology from Work Vultures) so I have to ask Alison (to ask Yasmin for the stapler for me to use).
L: (long talk)
M: Alison won't say what I'm supposed to apologise for. What did I do? She (Yasmin) takes every opportunity (to humiliate me)
L: (you should move to another Job Network agency note that she's only saying that its my problem f don't like what Yasmin says to me – not that I have anything to apologise about myself)
M: You (can) give me the information (on where to make complaints) , but I make my own decisions (about what I do as far as what agency I'll have in future)
M: She (Yasmin) has no right to say that about anyone (that they should learn some manner) and secondly, what did I do ( to warrant me needing to make a an apology to her)?...
M: How come you don't employ practically any males?
M: Its because I'm male, is that it? I'm middle aged (as well as male/ that you're giving me this hard time?)
M: How come I can't get a male Employment Consultant – who treats me decently?
M: What have I done wrong?
M: Why don't you employ equal male and females (as staff at this agency site)?
L: I'm not going to ask you again, leave these premises now!
M: You're offended because I talked about (you) employing male?
L: (she admits it)
M: you're thinking of going to ) get the police (are you?) (After he says she'll have me removed).
M: (You're going to get the police?)
M: On what ground?
L: On the grunds that I've asked you to leave the premises.
M: I just want to get on with it (this session of looking for jobs -I had to then write on their form and hand it in – or else be breached by them)
L: There's other people her (as if its not her causing the fuss that might be affecting their job search)
M: (I was) just trying to get use of the stapler (that got you to start hassling me to try and get a reaction from me of anger- as a pretext to order me out – instead it was her that got angry)
L: I've asked you to leave. Are you going to leave (the premises)? As the Manager (of just 3 days) I've asked you to leave the premises!
M: How come I just can't finish this stuff (ie ring up a few jobs I've found out of the paper for the form I'm supposed to hand I each week?) and finish this conversation?
L: I've asked you to leave “M”.
M: You're offended that I said that you don't employ enough males?
M: You're mostly employing females here
M: I'm not saying I'm not going – I'm just asking you why (you're asking me to go).
“M” then went out to the front Reception area and sat on a chair near the front door to write down information about some jobs on the “Work Vultures” form – which he then gave to “L” - who was talking to a staff member at the back of the room (in the actual “staff”/interview area – where Larry interviewed me (with other staff obviously listening )– and also very close to the public area of the Reception part of the shopfront setup).
creative media magazine since 1970 Winter 2001 ISSN 0310462
F E S T I V A L S : is
B I G G E R B E T T E R ?
Timestream magazine has long been trying to develop creative content beyond poetry and associated artwork. Having its own site on the Unemployed Peoples Embassy website now allows this long time project to expand into cultural analysis and various forms of literature and artworks.
This issue for instance looks at the role of Festivals in Australian society. The term "festival" is being used in a more and more loose manner - moving far away from its original purpose of people celebrating dates of religious significance. The current measure of their success seems to be about how big they are - rather than what they mean to people.
Instead of large religious street festivals we have large
"community" street festivals - although suburban
The key to this is participation. This can either be about creating popular involvement by including activities that anyone in the audience feel they could do (eg Mascon's lantern parade), or by by having more serious arts forms that include people with talent. this is important when there is a self appointed class based art establishment that seeks to market only the few people it decides should be recognised as artists.
The Mascon festival seems to be the only annual effort in Sydney to produce a popular spectacular festival - apart from the gay Mardi Gras. The Unemployed Peoples Embassy produces the Alternative Arts Festival towards the end of the year - but doesn't measure its success in terms of numbers of audience "attending" - but more by how participants felt about their participation - either as performer/writers or in their feedback role in the audience.
FETE OF FESTIVALS
Unless people have seen a major festival overseas, the Olympics would have been the first time people would have experienced a serious Festival. One that takes over the whole city and even has a touch of nationalism about it.
The mega-festival is a major tourist attraction, and has to be more than just a big market stall day and sausage sizzle. The Sydney Mardi Gras is the closest we have to a grand annual festival - but it will always exclude wide community participation (being homosexual based).
The Olympics was like Xmas coming early, with even the city shop assistants suddenly coming friendly, like it was Xmas come early. Special laws were brought in to ensure no messy signs of democracy broke out. In short, Sydney started to feel like a Beijing Olympics with no demos allowed. Interestingly, once the mass hysteria of the Olympics got started - politics. lee along demonstrations, seemed completely irrelevant. Sydney suddenly became Disneyland.
The media refused to cover the few attempts at street demonstrations, as authorities had street posters taken down as quickly as they were put up. The image of Australia in the tourist ads needed to be preserved - and the army was lurking inside a closed down UTS (Uni of Tech, Sydney), just in case. After the show left town we were left with just the usual "community" festivals at the end of the year
AN OLYMPIC HANGOVER ?
But had the Olympics spoilt us for the usual local festivals after we found that there's more we can expect from them? The real problem is that the genuine local community festival itself is under threat. Of course when Councils run them there is usually little incentive to spend more money on making them much more than just a stall day in the park or on the road in the shopping strip.
They are something the Mayor can open so the local schools can strut their performance curriculum. South Sydney Council has been a particular exception with its winter Mascon festival which is like an inner city version of the Opening Festival where people can mingle with the performances - with some fireworks at the end too
While Mascon keeps evolving, the Newtown Festival is starting to show signs of the pressure of gentrification of the area. Where once it seemed to be a de facto Sydney festival - it is now becoming more an annual nostalgia fest visited by the less affluent arty and student types that used to be able to afford to live in the area. the very idea that there is a different type of community in Newtown than in adjoining Glebe is disappearing as all inner city suburbs are turning into yuppidom.
Its rather silly even to have two community festivals in Newtown and Glebe on different weekends. Since Mascon has been in Victoria Park for the last two years - it is easy to imagine the two festivals being linked by it on the same Saturday - with little difference being detected if you walked between the three. Not much happens at the Glebe festival - but