Monday, January 26, 2009

Toilet row - man sacked over bathroom habits

It is true that many Asians see the use of toilet paper as "dirty" and wash their bottoms instead. But let me say what is unsaid below: Asian lavatories are set up for washing. Australian lavatories are not. The result is that Asians following their customs in Australia tend to leave a lot of water on the floor around the toilet pedestal -- sometimes polluted water. And that makes it most unpleasant for other users. The company was entirely reasonable in protecting its employees from that. In the circumstances, it is rather a surprise that the union representative attacked the company. I don't think he represents his workers. Below is an excerpt from an email about the matter that I received from one North Queensland worker:

"The Yanks would call this a bum rap. I read this in the Courier Mail the other day. I am geting a bit sick of these bleeding hearts coming out backing these gippo pricks crying about cultural rights. If the union wanted to do something constructive they would be placing a ban on these muslim clerics preaching wife beating etc and calling for their immediate extradition. I don't know where all this, the average Aussie is tolerant and welcomes migrants, comes from. What a crock of sh*t. The government knows that the majority of Australians don't want these pricks in Australia but keep pandering to the rowdy miniority. No one is game to say to much in case they end up in court"

A Townsville man has been sacked for `un-Australian' toilet habits. Amador Bernabe, 43, uses water to clean himself instead of toilet paper. Mr Bernabe, a machine operator on a working visa from the Philippines, said it was his culture. But on Thursday he got the shock of his life when his foreman followed him into the toilet questioning his toilet hygiene.

Mr Bernabe said his employer Townsville Engineering Industries (TEI) sacked him yesterday for not going to the toilet the Australian way. TEI, which is located at the Bohle, could not be reached for comment yesterday. The move has angered union bosses and politicians on the Australia Day weekend.

"I went to go to the toilet and I took a bottle of water when my foreman saw me and he said `you can't bring the water in there'," Mr Bernabe said. "I asked why and he said it wasn't good but I said it's our way and he followed me into the toilet. "I said it's my personal hygiene. I didn't break any law, I didn't break any rules of the company, why can't I do this, and he said he would report me to the manager.

"The next morning when I came in I went to punch my time card and he told me the manager wanted to talk to me in his office. "He asked me what had happened and I explained to him and he said if I didn't follow the Australian way I would be immediately terminated and I said `sir, then you better terminate me'."

Australian Manufacturing Worker's Union state organiser Rick Finch said the incident was shocking. "I think it is atrocious, an invasion of a person's rights and cultural beliefs," he said. "The paradox of the toilet and a person's actions is something that no boss can even think about interfering with and the thought that bosses think they have the control to get involved in the toiletry is a gross invasion of an employee's privacy. "If it wasn't so disgusting it would almost be laughable." Mr Finch slammed the move as `bigoted'.

Greens spokeswoman Jenny Stirling praised Mr Bernabe for standing up for his rights. "I commend the man for standing up for himself and I encourage the employer to have further talks with the union and the employee and I am sure commonsense will prevail," she said. "I would like to see how Australians feel when they go to Europe where in places they don't have toilet paper."

Thuringowa MP Craig Wallace said the company should re-evaluate their priorities. "Employers should be worried how their business operates rather than what their employees do in the loo," he said. "I know in a number of cultures using paper to clean yourself is considered an offence because of their beliefs. "If he is being hygienic and not bothering anyone else then good luck to him."

Mr Finch said employers should be more tolerant of their employees, especially in Mr Bernabe's case where he has been brought to the country by TEI on a 457 visa. "At the end of the day we are a multicultural society and if they want to import workers then they need to be tolerant of other workers and other cultures," he said. "They don't own these workers, they are borrowed and hired to carry out a job. "The thought these bosses think they can lord it over these workers is insane. "What it shows is the company's complete arrogance for workers' rights."

Mr Bernabe, a father of four, had been with the company since April 2008 and said he had no problems until yesterday. "It's hard work but it is my skill so it is good," he said. "The only problem was yesterday."


Sorry Mick, but Australia Day date stays: Rudd

January 26, 1788 was when the first English settlers arrived in Australia. My relatives on my mother's side have celebrated the day with a get-together for many years. We did so over a BBQ lunch today. The celebration these day includes several members of Han Chinese descent but they wear symbols of Australiana as proudly as anyone

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said a "respectful" no to the call by Australian of the Year Mick Dodson for a "conversation" to change the date of Australia Day. Mr Rudd told a citizenship ceremony in Canberra he believed January 26 was a day all Australians could celebrate despite the historical origins of the day. "We're all in this together," he said. Mr Rudd paid tribute to Australia's indigenous heritage saying it was a "privilege" for non-indigenous Australians to share the country with indigenous Australians.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine has said any discussions aimed at changing the date would be "a long conversation''. Professor Dodson says many Aborigines view the First Fleet's arrival in 1788 as invasion day. "I'm not suggesting we move the date. I'm saying that we should have a conversation about that,'' Prof Dodson told Fairfax Radio today.

Mr Mundine, a former Labor national president, said it would be a worthwhile conversation, but a long one. "You don't just change a powerful, emotional and symbolic day like Australia Day on a whim or over night,'' he told Fairfax Radio. "Yes, we do have an issue with the 26th January we can't get away from, but I'm a realist. "If we are going to change the date we have to bring all Australians with us and it has to be a date that we can all be comfortable celebrating together. "And if that is going to happen, that is going to be a long conversation.''

Mr Mundine said he believed the discussion was necessary because January 26 was "a festering sore within indigenous communities''.


Sentencing council to give public a say in penalties

A long overdue idea. I documented long ago the big gap between the judiciary and the public

The public could get input into penalties for criminals under a new plan which would put an end to "out of touch" sentencing by Queensland courts. The Queensland Law Society has urged the State Government to set up a sentencing council which would consult with the public, do research and advise on sentencing policy. According to a letter from QLS president Ian Berry to Attorney-General Kerry Shine, obtained yesterday by The Courier-Mail, a sentencing council might also end the "opportunistic and cynical" law and order debates governments and oppositions engaged in, in the lead up to elections.

In his January 8 letter, Mr Berry said NSW in 2003 and Victoria, the following year, had set up sentencing advisory councils similar to those in England and Scotland. He said they provided "the machinery for on-going, rational consideration of sentencing issues". The case for their establishment was "beyond any doubt". "Through no fault of the judiciary, it must be acknowledged there is a feeling in the wider community that there is a disconnection between what people might consider appropriate sentences for crimes - especially crimes of violence - and what sentences are imposed," he said. "If the public is to feel that it has some direct 'ownership' of sentencing policy ... it will go a long way towards public acceptance and understanding of the administration of justice and law and order."

A spokesman for Mr Shine said the proposal was appreciated and would be given full consideration.

Response to the proposal has been mixed. Bar Association vice-president Michael Byrne, QC, said the BAQ had full confidence in the judiciary but was "open to consider any initiative proposed by the Attorney-General". But Chief Justice Paul de Jersey said he was not in favour of the proposal. "I do not accept the community lacks general confidence in the sentencing process," he said. "I have not heard any consistent call for reform." [He must be deaf]


Dumbed down education hits home

POOR spelling and grammar, verbose resumes and applications that include too many personal details are killing the chance of job seekers finding work. Recruiters and those who help applicants prepare CVs and resumes say they are astounded by some of the obvious mistakes that job applicants make. "The world of texting and emails has lowered people's standards of English," Jeanette Hannan of Brisbane firm Resumes for Results said. "I receive emails with text message jargon. I straight away dismiss them."

Some applicants put too many details about their private lives, and wrote resumes that were 20 to 30 pages long. "They will put in that they are married, how many children they have, even the dog's name," Ms Hannan said. One woman even detailed her husband's and father's job qualifications.

Ms Hannan said job seekers often failed to sell their achievements, such as boosting sales achieved in a previous job. Kevin Alexander, practice leader with recruitment firm Hudson, said many people forgot the importance of the resume document. "It is the document that the candidate will be initially judged against, and therefore it is vital to get right," he said. While candidates could get away with a few lapses in their resume in the past, as the job market intensified this year employers would look for those who stood out, Mr Alexander said. Many people with great resumes fell at the interview hurdle and job applicants needed to be prepared for several interviews, he said.

Recruiter Glenda Stenner said the internet had made it too easy for people to apply for jobs, and as a result some applied for too many positions, including those for which they were not qualified. She has seen bad spelling mistakes, particularly in resumes of people applying for administrative positions.

Ms Stenner said employers and recruiters were being inundated with applications, and resumes and cover letters needed to have enough impact to get the job seeker on to the shortlist. "It should be just the facts," Ms Stenner said. One employer said he sometimes had to scroll down five pages of information before he found out where an applicant had worked. Ms Stenner said some applicants failed to tailor cover letters to the position, and were sending the same cover letter over and over, with the same mistakes.

Deborah Barit of Impressive Interviews said many applicants did not explain what they did and tried to give employers too much information they were not interested in.


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