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Just as unions once again claim an increase to Australia’s  minimum wage and I find myself engrosed in the early battles for unionism in Thomas Keneally’s The People’s Trains there are other not so promising sounds from across the Tasman.

The Reserve Bank Governor of New Zealand, Mr Bollard has made it very clear that his countries workers can not expect to earn as much as they could in Australia and should be happy with the crumbs.

It was attitudes such as expressed by the questionably intelligent Mr Bollard that lead to the Unionist movement  here in Australia; events that are so clearly painted in The People’s Train.  Bosses, politicians, reporters, bankers, lawyers and judges all holding the opinion that it is not in the public’s benefit that people take an interest in how their workplaces are run and how they are expected to live.  That somehow an individual worker has any real power when facing his employer over wages and conditions.  That what is really important in this world is not people but industry and money.

The People’s trains is a true story set 100 years ago.  The attitude of workers gleaning the crumbs was expressed only recently.  Nice to know things don’t change.

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