When Roy Orbison in 1962 wrote and sang the song "Working
For The Man", it may well be that he was reflecting his times
and the working conditions for the American unskilled and
He sang of a worker who had a lotta lotta work to do. Pick up
your feet we got a deadline to meet. I'm gonna see you make it
on time. Don't relax. I want elbows and backs. I want to see
everybody from behind. 'Cause your working for the man.
He sang of:
slaving all day
abiding his time
in a relationship with the boss man's daughter who at
various times was treating him right.
This worker had hopes for his future however he appeared to see
his future as emulating his boss as he was just "abiding my
time" until one day "the company and the daughter"
would "be all mine".
One would like to think in contemporary Australia that workers
wouldn't have to rely upon the same methods to achieve an
improvement in the quality of the terms and conditions of their
In contemporary Australia we can look to protections and
the National Employment Standard in the Fair Work Act;
the provisions of a modern Award or any enterprise agreement
that might apply.
There would be no slaving all day without much pay, as if
payment of wages was discretionary, and he would have opportunities
to advance his position and the position of his colleagues as he
would have the right of freedom of association and he could join a
union to advance his interests.
Unions have many objectives and they include:
To protect and improve to the fullest possible extent the
interest of members and in particular, and without limiting the
ordinary meaning of those words;
To obtain and maintain fair wages, hours of work and other
conditions of employment of members, either by award, industrial
agreement or other lawful means.
To secure redress for any grievances to which members or any of
them may become subject;and
To create and promote equality of opportunity in employment and
promotion within employment.
If we are concerned about an underpayment of wages he could now
go to a statutory body such as the Fair Work Ombudsman, or the
Chief Industrial Magistrate's Court.
So this worker if living in contemporary Australia has other
options. At the times that Roy Orbison was singing the options were
clearly very limited.
Although it still would have been open to this worker in those
times to seek to enhance the conditions of employment for all
rather than simply aspiring to take the place of his existing boss
so he could be the Man.
If he adopted a more inclusive approach it could be he would
still get the "Pretty Woman" and she would still treat
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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