Hotel staff worked to the bone. Which big US-owned hotel chain is showing us the reality of what improving productivity is all about? The hotel’s Australian operations last week received its new budgets for the 2012 financial year — we’re told head office in the US wants more profits, so that will mean more job cuts, if already overworked staff can’t be forced to work more hours. And work they are. The front desk staff are already required to work 120 hours a fortnight, as are other front-of-house staff. The extra hours above their normal working hours are paid at normal hourly rates; penalty rates were abolished years ago in a “reform”. The union is conspicuous by its absence.

And why are they being forced to do this? Our insider reports it’s because tourism and business travel is down and head office in the US understands how this happened (it’s the rise in the value of the Australian dollar). The rise in the Aussie dollar has cut profits, cash flow and sales revenue in US dollar terms. Apparently the employment packages at the hotel chain do mirror some of the ideas of the Howard government’s WorkChoices package.

DFAT behind the times online. Australia doesn’t seem to be putting its best foot forward on the worldwide web. A frustrated user of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website reports:

“The New York consulate has a warning about an inclement weather event called Hurricane Irene (making a return visit perhaps?). There is also a Ramadan message from Kevin Rudd dated July 2011. Down in DC, there is a long treatise from Kim Beazley on the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS treaty as well as some helpful info on the international biodiversity convention. Rivetting stuff. The embassy also highlights an old interview Bomber gave to AFP about his passion for the US civil war. Surely LA brings some razzle dazzle to the online space? Nope. There’s not much to report from LA LA land, although there is a helpful list of Australian public holidays and a warning about the dangers of H1N1 influenza (“widely reported in the international media” apparently, like, two years ago). Last stop, San Francisco. Surely we’re putting our best out to Silicon Valley? What’s that? A poorly aligned headshot of the consul general seems to suffice. Perhaps if Kevin Rudd spent less time tweeting about his favourite blend of tea, he could pay some more attention to how Australia presents itself online?”

Dear PEOPLE OF NO CONSEQUENCE. What fired up the angry mob to confront Anthony Albanese last week? A lot of capital letters and underlined words. One local who lives around the corner from Albo’s office found this in their letterbox. Click through for the full manifesto …

No discount for Myer models. The “plus-sized” models Myer sent down its catwalk were promised nothing more than a $25 store voucher for their trouble, as we reported on Friday. And not even that, it seems — two contestants tell us today they’re still waiting for the vouchers in the mail.

Peter Fray

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