What the hell was that? As a parent with a child in school for the first time I have just withstood a round of what I suspect will become the regular school holiday juggle.
After taking one week’s leave the battle-plans were laid out: a day with said child in the office, play dates lined up, grandparents locked in – and then she gets sick meaning the fragile house of cards came tumbling down.
It’s a simple rule of math really, schoolkids have around 12 weeks of holidays each year while their parents average four - that’s a lot of time when households are juggling care.
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A couple of years ago I received a furious telephone call from the chief executive officer of one of our biggest companies complaining about what he regarded as the ungrateful and insulting tone of The Daily Telegraph’s coverage of executive salaries.
The bloke had a bit of a point because, as he pointed out, his salary was extravagant on paper but had coincided with an unprecedented period of increased returns to shareholders. He’d also resisted the slash-and-burn approach to running his business, shielding workers from dismissal when it would have been the easiest way to achieve short-term savings in what was then a looming economic downturn.
The point I tried to make in the media’s defence was that rather than accusing us of being cheap populists, he should really convene a telephone hook-up with his fellow CEOs and ask them if their remuneration fell into the same category as his.
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Five years ago, Glen Viegas cut into a live wire as he worked on the construction of a shopping centre on the NSW Central Coast. That wire should have been disconnected. But it wasn’t. Glen was killed, and an hour and a half later, his wife Andreia had to pull back a white hospital sheet to identify her husband’s body.
Next time you see burly construction workers marching in a protest, consider stories like Andreia’s, and the fact that on average, one construction worker dies from work every week.
The experience of Andreia, and others like her, is what motivates trade unionists when we push for the best possible health and safety laws.
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