John Howard’s IR reforms may not yet have become law, but one big national employer already seems to be anticipating them.

is a story about a young Sydney uni student who decided to get some
part-time work for the first time. He applied to Coles Myer, filled in
the forms, was accepted and sent to the standard half-day “management
course” which involves a bit of role playing and some occupational
health and safety stuff to ready him for the task of being a counter

He was told “we’ll call you.” He asked whether the
shifts worked around his uni studies and was told they will. A manager
from Target’s Macquarie Centre store in Sydney called him a few days

The conversation went something like this: “We want you
to work,” says the manager. “Great,” says the young bloke, “when?”
Until midnight that night, the woman says. He says he can’t because
he’s got a uni exam the next day at 9am and he wants to study and get a
good night’s sleep. There’s a brief discussion and the woman manager
says: “You’re fired, I want your resignation on my desk first thing
tomorrow morning.”

Which is very odd because he hadn’t worked a
minute for the company, so technically wasn’t an employee, yet was
sacked for wanting to study for an exam. Is this the new breed of
employees the prime minister told us about at the Sydney Institute last
night (here)?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey