Handing down its interim judgement yesterday, the FWA - established with the assistance of the Australian Government as part of its campaign to help rebuild Afghanistan in its own image - said it was loathe to impose conditions on either party while the possibility of successful negotiations remained alive.
“The tribunal feels it would be more beneficial if the two parties could reach in-principle agreement rather than have a compromise imposed on them,” the official said.
Taliban, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pakistan-based Imperialistic Meddling Pty Ltd, and FITSU have been at loggerheads for some months over the structure of a new award.
FITSU inaugural secretary Duncan McGorbals - who established the union with the help of a grant from the Australian Trade Union Collective and the Australian Government, as part of its campaign to rebuild
in its own image - said his members were bitterly disappointed with the ruling. Afghanistan
He said there was “real anger in the ranks” and it was the union’s view that the FWA had effectively rendered its ‘no strikes’ ruling of last September null and void.
“What we are facing here is a straight-forward case between downtrodden workers who clearly aren’t getting what they are worth and rich bosses who think they can get away with imposing a 1500 year-old award on their employees,” he said.
“The current award was drawn up more than 1500 years ago and its about time that Taliban entered the modern world, because if they don’t I can promise them they will have a full scale revolt on their hands.”
Although McGorbals refused to elaborate, it is believed FITSU has drawn up plans for a series of rolling stoppages across the country to be instigated to coincide with a series of advertisements entitled ‘Bombchoices: Your rights’.
“I’m not ruling anything in or out, but what I will say is that Taliban wants to see peace and harmony break out across the country, if it wants to see women and children not living in fear of being murdered, that is what it will get unless it comes to the table in good faith.”
A Taliban spokesperson, who refused to be named, said while the organization had “some sympathy” with FITSU’s position the union had to understand that Taliban was “not a bottomless pit of virgins”.
This was a direct reference to one of the key FITSU demands that the standard rate of 72 virgins in everlasting paradise for each martyr was “clearly out of step with the cost of dying”.
According to McGorbals, Taliban’s training and fitness requirements meant that its employees were not only very fit, but often remained celibate in the weeks leading up to a call-out.
“Given those circumstances, 72 virgins is a woefully inadequate number to cater to our members’ needs over the course of eternity,” he said.
“We have the appalling situation where our members are having make do with used virgins for the rest of eternity, which is clearly outside the spirit of the agreement.”
It was hoped that a breakthrough was possible last month when FITSU floated the idea that it may be open to a piece-rate arrangement, whereby the number of virgins provided would be dictated by a sliding scale.
Under the proposal, a member carrying out a straightforward marketplace suicide-bomb atrocity targeting civilians would receive the minimum virgin allocation whereas those members who carried out more complex operations on, for example, school playgrounds, would attract a higher rate.
Those martyred in a fair fight with armed soldiers afforded the opportunity to shoot back would earn the top rate.
The union sweetened the offer by providing statistics from a member survey which it said proved that none of its members would ever qualify for the top rate.
Hopes where dashed however when Taliban claimed that FITSU had issued a non-negotiable demand that the new award stipulated 10,000 virgins as the minimum starting point for the sliding scale, a figure Taliban dismissed as “ludicrous”.
The spokesperson said that the number of virgins per martyr was “never officially negotiated into the award”, with the figure of 72 resulting from a later clause which had never been ratified.
“The original guarantee was that virgins would be made available to the faithful in paradise – no specific number of virgins was ever put forward and frankly we think we have been more than generous to date,” she said.
“We can only make progress when FITSU understands that we are restricted by what we can afford - we are operating in a global economy, which means we are facing a number of competitors all fighting for market share.
“Essentially our margins are shrinking: the demand for virgins worldwide is growing and some of our Government-backed competitors are deliberately inflating prices to force us out of the market.”
“It’s a tough market – we’re all going to have to tighten our explosive vests and cinch our backpacks a bit tighter because the bottom line is if we were to meet all of FITSU’s demands we’d be out of business tomorrow.
“What I would say to FITSU is that in these tough times, a job and 72 virgins in paradise is better than no job and a couple of used wives here on earth.”
While virgin numbers remain a seemingly insoluble sticking point, it is understood Taliban is prepared to give ground on a number of FITSU’s other demands in an effort to prevent the dispute from widening to related industries.
The Amalgamated Bomb-Makers Federation, Federated Fuse and Detonator Manufacturers Union, Human Shields and Associated Services
Union and Village-Based Armaments Manufacturers’ Collective are all believed to be watching developments closely.
Sources say senior Taliban management have already secretly decided to meet union demands on a number of fronts, including increasing the co-contribution to the Suicide-Bombers’ Superannuation Scheme by 3%, a 50% increase in vest, backpack and mobile phone detonator allowances, a 10% boost to overtime and penalty rates and meal allowances for night attacks.
It is also understood to be amenable to revamping annual leave loading provisions, regular Worksafe inspections of all Taliban workplaces, long service leave after 10-years/50 suicide attacks and funding a
complex in an as yet unspecified location. Suicide-Bomber Retirement Village
The FWA has ordered both parties to reappear on July 16.