Write On: Letters to the editor

Workplace 'restructures'

In my workplace we have been suffering restructuring for the whole time I have been there, which is three years now. We have had the closing down of sites, redundancies, increased workloads, unfair rosters and restrictions on taking our holiday leave. The number of staff has been pared down so much that we need to apply for our holiday leave up to a year ahead, and new rosters are unfair especially to part-time staff and may include split weekends.

The latest change involves the model of customer service provided. Management is insistent on implementing a mobile or "roving" customer service model, which seems to be the latest fad in service industries. We have had no forum where we can discuss why we are moving to "roving" and who is supposed to benefit from it.

As far as I can tell, this is an unproven system. While there are a number of reports on libraries, banks, shops, etc that are implementing this fad, there seem to be no studies on what it actually achieves. Most of the workplaces that have implemented "roving" have done so after substantial cuts to staffing, so saving money seems to be the main motivation.

When we do try to raise this issue with management we are told that we are just being negative and that the changes are going to happen anyway. It seems that "industrial democracy" is fine as long as it remains only a platitude. For the workers who have to actually implement these crazy meddlesome ideas there is only industrial edict.

David Bastin

Nicholls, ACT

Islam and women's rights I

While I agree with both Anne Horan (Write On #766) and Margarita Windisch (Write On #764) when they suggest equality between men and women doesn't yet exist in Western nations, there is much greater equality for men and women in Western nations than more extreme Islamic nations, where women are not even able to walk alone on the street.

Unlike Horan, I do believe we have the "moral ground". While Western society is not perfect, women in Western societies are much more "free" and "equal" to their male counterparts compared with women living in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. To pretend that the living conditions for females in these worlds is the same is to deny the great oppression Islamic women face.

So, instead of pretending there is no difference, let's critically analyse what is occurring both in Australia and overseas and not be afraid to question and condemn the sexism prevalent in these nations. While I accept that racism is prevalent in Australia, I do not believe that means we can't have reasoned, intelligent debate — as we are doing — about the sexist elements of both Australian and Islamic culture.

What is most damaging is to pretend the sexism doesn't exist, or to be afraid to criticise its existence in fear of being labelled racist, for that is when freedom of speech ends, and oppression can continue unquestioned.

Luke Vanni

Wavell Heights, Qld

Islam and women's rights II

Just a comment in reply to Margarita Windisch (Write On #764) who says the decision to torture yourself by wearing stiletto heels, fashionable corsets or a burqa is a woman's decision only.

There's something wrong with this picture: one out of those three items is a religious symbol. The stiletto and the corset are not forced upon women in any part of the world for religious purposes, as is the latter.

It is fundamentalist organisations like the Taliban who murder women for not wearing the burqa. That is where it originates from. Not stilettos nor corsets, but most certainly the burqa.

Windisch writes, "there are plenty of women in the world who are forced to self-mutilate by waxing, laser and plastic surgery". What is the name of the organisation that "forces" women to do this, apart from perhaps the odd sociopath? No woman is going to be stoned to death by a rabble of men for not waxing, getting laser treatment or plastic surgery.

I'm afraid I cannot let religion off the hook quite so easily. These religions are totalitarian and absolute, and as long as there are fundamentalist religious groups, of any sort, there will never be equality of the sexes.

Pam Rankin

Sunshine Coast, Qld