Is the Australian work ethic long gone? 166



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Last week I was sitting with one of my relatives discussing what he was doing for work. As a single man in his mid 40s (lucky him!) he is working on a mine site in Queensland as a fly in, fly out electrician. Now, we often discuss how Australians don’t work as hard as they once did and the meaning of hard work, dedication and commitment is lost on the younger generations but I hadn’t stopped to think about it like this. And quite frankly, I’m disappointed.

Jim works with a team of men including two young blokes in their 20s. Recently, they were discussing how disgruntled they are that so many foreign investors, mainly from Asia, are buying Australian mining rights, setting up facilities and then bringing over their own employees, from their own countries, to work for them. He also said that these men had no trouble blaming the current government for this.

This is a fair argument – I am all for Australian workers being employed in Australia, but it was what Jim told me next that made me disappointed. Jim shared that in an average day, Thomas (one of the 20 year olds who was complaining) will spend 1 hour filling up his water bottle, putting on his safety gear and “getting ready” to start the day after he is already on site on the clock. Then he’ll decide it is smoko time so there goes another two hours out of the paid workday. Then when he’s back he will decide to move the equipment around for another hour or two. Lunchtime then rolls around. He will finally do an hour of work and then he’s off the clock and back to the dongas he goes.

This is why I am disappointed. The fact he does the minimum possible work and that he watches his team work hard but can’t be bothered himself aren’t the worst reasons. It is because he complains about the foreign workers coming to take “his job” when the reality is that he doesn’t even do “his job” and he can’t see the need to reflect on himself and his own behaviours.

These are men who are on close to $200,000 – they are the upper class Australians, they earn more than most of the country yet they have a sense of entitlement and I don’t think they even realise that their blame shifting on the government is so wrong.

Australian labour is expensive – we all know that. And for a foreign investor that is fine, if the work done for that money is fair and just. The point here is that it is not. They are throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars away on unproductive work every year and this is a sad fact of Australia.

We are a nation that prides ourselves on hard work, commitment and dedication, but that seems to be lost on the younger generations. In both of the world wars, Australian soldiers were renowned for their courage and commitment. Our drovers are renowned for the hard work they do for months on end. Even we, the baby boomers of Australia know what it is like to work day in and day out for a living.

It is so sad that the changing work force of Australia is our own fault. The changing reputation of Australia is our own fault. The changing culture of Australia is our own fault. But the Australians who are making these changes happen, don’t even realise it.

Tell us, does it make you sad that the Australian “hard work” culture is slowly fading away? Is the sense of entitlement of younger generations stopping Australians from carrying on our national reputation? 

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  1. the problem with any culture not just being Aussie the younger workers want to be boss and it shows it big companies where it is not what you know but who you know I am 62 and still working as full time concretor and as for young blokes whinging as a so called old bloke I joke and encourage them not bully them to get job done

  2. There is an idea of entitlement that was never there before. How it came to this state of play I am not sure but it does exist.Obviously not all young people are so lazy but definitely there are many who think they have a right to great money for little work.

    2 REPLY
    • ALL the young people whom I know…through my Grandies, are very hardworking people who contribute to society. Broad brushstrokes here I’m afraid! There are many older people using the system to NOT work, I tell you from experience!

    • I guess there are lazy well-paid workers in every are group but only because they know they get away with it.

  3. That is brilliant & so true. We have to get away from the “Give me” mentality. High Schools must start preparing our young people for the workforce. Even if a student is going onto further study, they will probably do some part time work. The teachers teaching this need to be people who have been there & done that. You cannot blame overseas companies bringing over their own people. They are workers.

    1 REPLY
    • Don’t blame the schools, blame the parents. How many kids have chores these days and are made to do them. Most parents run themselves ragged while the kids do nothing.
      Teachers I know say most of today’s kids are lazy and won’t work, so don’t get the results they should.

  4. I don’t believe that is true, Aussie kids and adults want work, and don’t you kid yourself, they have the same capacity to work that we did. An employer with any small amount of intelligence is not going to keep paying people to do nothing all day. I suspect that was written by a Liberal voter with no concept of what is it is like to work in the mines or heavy Industry. They need to cut these 457 visas and give Australian’s a chance at work. Yes I am sure they are blaming the Government, I have not met a person yet who is not

    3 REPLY
    • Many Liberal votes work in mining and other jobs that are equally difficult. I am a conservative voter and have never been out of a job in my life. I always worked hard for my salary. Don’t imagine that it is only Labor and Green voters that work in mining and heavy industry.

    • I never said they didn’ need to learn to read before you comment..I said it was written by a Liberal voter with no concept of what is it like to work in the mines… emphasise on the NO CONCEPT

    • none of them seem to be able to read..they make up as they go with what you have supposedly said!! talk about living in fantasy land

  5. I have been out of work now for several months and although have a proven strong work ethic, cannot get a job. My son, who works in a building with four hundred people, says that the older people he works with have a much better work ethic than the younger employee. Is it an age thing? Is it our fault? Have we given our children too much, so much so that they expect much for doing very little? Could it be that Fair Work and OHS standards have gone overboard and made it too easy for this to happen? It is a good thing for laws to change and workers to be protected, but have we gone too far????? Should employers take a good look at their businesses and employ a mixture of ages so that one will learn from another, or has it got nothing to do with age? I hear every day how employers can’t get people to work for them, yet so many are out of work. Are we not willing to take a job anymore just because it is good honest hard work???

    5 REPLY
    • people are willing to willing and want to work, the jobs are not out there, unemployment is at highest level in 12 years and I can see it getting worse..we are going into recession

    • Fran I like your comments.I particularly think you are very correct with your last statement.People of all ages have to be willing to adapt learn & make changes to take work & get a work ethic proved against their names.Kids need paying casual jobs as soon as old enough not be pampered & supported through school & Uni years.I am still working at 71 after 50 years & I have had to adapt to huge changes in that time to keep up with the younger coming through the work place.Hell computers & phones were not heard of when I started!!Everyone can look for another job while creating a great work ethic.The jobs are there especially in country areas.I have 9 grand kids age 14 to 26 living in Victoria Melb.Geelong.Ararat none have ever been without a job.Three daughters. & son Inlaws none ever out of work through school ,Uni,or apprenticeship years or since.Its not luck it’s adapt ability & bloody hard boring work at times with long train car trips to & from.My eldest girl got her first law job with a large international firm because she was told they knew she could hack the long hrs & hard work she asked how did they know & was told by the references from factories,catering business,s,pubs.& cleaning business,s you worked with during School/Uni years.One daughter left school at 15 & trained as a hairdresser & after 3 kids farming in outback NSW educated herself to become office manager at several large schools.Her & her husband & kids have moved to many states including Tassie & NT to take up new jobs.Learn to continue learning & put up & shut up unless it is out right bullying.My eldest now interviews new recruits & states they dictate their terms & never offer to adapt! One grandson 22 went for an interview lastbweek in Melb with ARB large firm & 10 mins after, he got ph call in car to say start 5th Jan he asked why him ,as knew near 50 got interviews, they said you were only one that admitted not knowing one aspect of job & said you were willing to learn if they were willing to teach. So tell the kids to be constructively honest.

    • You are right Pam, my youngest said “I am not working while I am at school”. I just answered, “Yes you are”. He had a job in two weeks and since then has not been out of work. In his present job, the boss asked him where he saw himself in five years. He told him doing the boss’s job. He got the job. There were 200 applicants and four positions. I however, have tried it all. I am 61. I have had no response to many, five interviews from nearly seventy applications. I have a certificate 3 in telecommunication, worked for ten years with a major telcom, got myself a diploma in Public Relations this year and have no success. I have been asked stupid obvious questions like could I see well enough to do the job in a hearing place. I have been told with a telcom it was a different sort of business and I probably wouldn’t get used to it. Another told me I would have to learn new systems and at present, they thought I couldn’t do that. This one was only over the phone. My degree means nothing because you need at least a year’s experience I’m told. I have excellent referees who can attest to my work ethic, but still the young ones get the jobs. Through experience, especially in telecommunications, I’ve learnt that if they have to work on a Friday or Saturday night or holidays, they quit. Not all young people are like that, but there are many. It doesn’t matter what sort of job, or what nationality, it is the way of life today. There are those older people who don’t want to work, but please employers, stop complaining about the ones who don’t and employ us, the ones who do!!!!!

    • Couldn’t agree more. We had an unwritten policy re employing nurses aides or enrolled nurses. Had to be over 40 or else younger ones wouldn’t work.

  6. Rubbish, I have worked in the mines!! at Parraburdo, Pinjarra and Emerald..that article is a load of crap, fly in fly out is very hard on the men and women and their families, nobody does this for fun and if they don’t work they are sacked !! The need to get rid of these 457 visas and start employing Australians again. In my time employees and their families lived in towns or camps at the mine site, they need to get back to that again.

    3 REPLY
    • I agree my son is 40 and a fifo with a family and it is hard and yes he is born and bred australian

    • This story is just rubbish and I wonder why it started in the first place. Is there someone out there making up stories just to incite feedback and therefore encourage disharmony? I have worked on a remote mine site and this story is crap.

  7. I agree that we oldies have a better work ethic, but on saying that we can’t tar all the younger people as being lazy. We can blame our government for making it harder to get rid of staff that don’t want to work. You cannot just turn round any more if a staff member isn’t doing what they are paid too do and sack them. If people really want to work sometimes in their life they may need to uproot themselves and go where the work is, I also don’t think foreign companies shouldn’t be allowed to bring in their own people unless they can’t fill it by an Australian.

  8. No not all young people are ‘lazy or smart’.but I agree a lot dont want to go the extra mile anymore .if your working for peanuts in retail ok but if your earning mega dollars .you should work accordingly

    1 REPLY
    • Working for peanuts in retail????? I am in my 60 s and working in Childcare have just studied for 2 years to a Dip level and earn less than in retail. It doesn’t matter where you work ….high end or low end of the market someone is paying you and they deserve your input and a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. What we call peanuts in the US is double what they earn. I have 3 daughters and because we didn’t spoil them they are and always have been hard workers and even give to us to help in rough times.

  9. I am in my early 60’s and work in a very small company 3 the Boss his 27 year old son an myself. The son spends 6 hours a day checking our FB page but why is it when I walk past he is watching a movie of an animal or a music video and I am the idiot that is wrapping parcels that are far too heavy for me! Work ethic he has none! But then again he is allowed to get away with it !

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