On 7 May 2015, Senator Doug Cameron (Australian Labor Party, pictured) launched a new book written by John Bottomley (pictured, centre) called “Hard Work Never Killed Anybody – How the idolisation of work sustains this deadly lie“. Cameron acknowledged the uniqueness of the book as ranging
“…across, theology, Marxism, the Protestant work ethic, and the Enlightenment.”
This combination is rare in the field of occupational health and safety but Cameron said that Bottomley provides evidence that
“…the promise of industrialised society that hard work brings its own rewards is a lie”
and that this is a necessary and important challenge to the current political consensus.
Class is often seen as an outmoded social criterion by everyone other than trade unionists and sociologists, and even many sociologists seem to see Class as an historical perspective. However it is a neglected perspective that can still offer insights even though some would say that the delineation of one class from another has faded. (It can be said that the current uproar on the Australian TV show “Struggle Street” is an illustration of the persistence of Class boundaries)
Cameron reminded the audience that former Prime Minister John Howard (Liberal Party) stated
“…that decency and hard work defines a person’s worth, not class race or social background.”
He then listed a series of social injustices that included a reference to worker exploitation recently revealed in a Four Corners episode.
Curiously, this book launch varied from the traditional format by including a discussion forum. After various audience members had spoken (including this writer), Cameron spoke off the cuff. He said that what was missing from the current discussion on workplace health is a” collective response to an individual’s pain and reaching out for help” be it the Church, government trade unions or elsewhere.
Cameron built on this point by emphasising the impact of workplace deaths on the remaining families members and revealed that he had used one of the case studies from Bottomley’s book in a speech last week. Workplace deaths start the family and relatives on “a long journey that never ends” but that this should not be a “lone journey” where the family is divorced from society.
Senator Doug Cameron’s presence at the book’s launch and his commitment to worker safety and health was greatly appreciated by the audience. The challenge now is to integrate the pain and the lessons in Bottomley’s new book, and his other research, into action.