The gap between work and choices

Featured in

  • Published 20070306
  • ISBN: 9780733320569
  • Extent: 280 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

ON THE GRASS outside an abattoir on the Western Plains of New South Wales, in the dark, cool air, a few workers are forming the late-night shift of a picket. Some journalists are hanging around, talking to them.

It is less than a week after the federal government’s new industrial relations legislation, known as “WorkChoices”, has taken effect. The men are outside the Cowra abattoir, not inside, because they have received termination notices. Twenty-nine have been sacked from their jobs – for “operational reasons”. And they have been offered re-employment. To be precise, an unidentified twenty of them will be offered re-employment – if they go back to work for substantially less than what they had been earning before the new law came into force. The drop in pay is typically around $180 a week, nearly a quarter of their wage. For some shift workers, it is as much as $300 a week. The men are angry. Some do not know how they will meet their mortgage repayments on the lower rate of pay.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

The choices we make

EssayBRISBANE, 15 JUNE, 2039: Chris shuffles into the homeless shelter. They’ve always been spartan places, but more so now than they ever were when...

More from this edition

The exiled child

EssayShortlisted, 2007 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, The Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public DebateOUR BATTLE WITH the twenty-one-year-old party girl next door...

I’m not here

FictionIF SHE HURRIES she may still eat today. She shuffles down the empty street, a small Vietnamese woman dressed in a floral polyester dress...

Disturbing undertones

EssayAUSTRALIAN FICTION WRITERS have, until the last few decades, avoided settling in Canberra and writing about the city in their novels and short stories....

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.