Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Moving to Oz? (VII)

or, "no Indians or Asians, please"

The screen capture below, it was reported yesterday (August, 28) by the Murdoch media (see here), represents a job ad asking for experienced cleaners in Hobart, Tasmania, and allegedly appeared on Gumtree, from where it has since been removed.


According to the information, the openings were not advertised by Coles Supermarkets itself, but by a contractor. A Coles spokesman has expressed concern over the ad's content and denied Coles had previous knowledge of it. (See here)

The ad has generated almost unanimous condemnation, because of its obviously racist and illegal content and
"Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks said she wanted to track down the cleaning contractor to pursue possible legal action".
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But, apart from its racist content, the ad says a lot more about the Australian labour market than has been noted.

Beyond the ethnic selection requirement, the ad also places the additional perfectly legal selection criteria:
  1. Experience;
  2. Night/early morning work;
  3. Time limit and detail;
  4. Own transport;
  5. It's a contract position (ABN required);
  6. English language fluency.
It's not possible to argue this point on hard data (there is none available, that I know of), but those requirements for a cleaner position in Tasmania (where seasonally adjusted unemployment is currently 6.5%) seem excessive in comparison to other job adverts for comparable occupations.

Take for instance the following ad, also placed recently on Gumtree and selected because it was the first item in the search results list:


The ad is for a cleaner position in Perth, Western Australia, where, according to the latest official figures, unemployment is 3.6%. Note that only White Card and footwear are required; no experience, own transport, or English language fluency are explicitly demanded. Note as well that the position is a casual one (unlike the subcontractor Hobart position, a casual worker's employer contributes to the worker's superannuation) and the rate is to be negotiated.

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In my series on "Skills Shortage? US Evidence", I've
"(...) briefly described Peter Capelli's thesis: knowing that the unemployed are looking for jobs, employers are driving hard bargains, the kind of bargain where more skills/experience get less (or at worst, no more) money in exchange. To the lowering effect on wages, this adds a slow job recovery." (See here)
While one should not place too much weight on the "no Indians or Asians" ad as evidence in support of Capelli's thesis applied to Australia, at least in my case, it makes me wonder.

In previous posts in the ongoing "Moving to Oz" series, I've presented similar ads, which, if not the majority, are not unheard of, either. (See here)

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A further comment:

After reading and hearing comments on this particular ad, the understandable tendency appears to be to demand punishment for the ad poster, for what seems a clear violation of the Anti-Discrimination legislation.

That's a justified reaction and one I support. But the fact the ad was placed reveals something deep about employers. I am not sure punishment would change this.


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