Unions. Let the Turf Wars Begin!

An article in The Australian recently outlined some of the misgivings about the industrial relations legislation of the Rudd Government, soon to be considered by the Senate. One of the critical issue of concern is the facilitation of “turf wars” by union that become hungry for membership.

In Western Australia competition between unions in the mining sector has been disruptive and it is impossible to identify how such disputation is in the interests of either employees or employers.  AWU and CFMEU have been invloved in their dispute over coverage for a decade, but legislation for several years has generally prevented it from becoming disruptive to employers and employees.

Julia Gillard has suggested that under the proposed legislation employers can apply for a representation order. This is a bureaucratic response and places employers in the unenviable position of having to choose their preferred union. They have to pick a winner and suffer the backlash of the union that they do not choose.

Even ALP power broker and AWU leader Bill Ludwig has spoken out against this part of the ALP “reform”.

It is poor policy, but we can rely on the ALP to get the policy wrong in this area.

The danger is that the Liberal Party will simply allow the law to pass without amendment, knowing that it will result in increased industrial activity. This will then be politically milked for all that it is worth.

 Tom of Melbourne

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110 Responses

  1. Boo again.

    All predictions of doom, and an article in the OO decrying a Rudd government policy, specially on IR when they were the unbridled champions of WorkChoices aiding and abetting Howard in the lies about it.

    AWU and CFMEU have been invloved in their dispute over coverage for a decade, but legislation for several years has generally prevented it from becoming disruptive to employers and employees.

    Really now?

    Even ALP power broker and AWU leader Bill Ludwig has spoken out against this part of the ALP “reform”.

    I love this one, even emphasising the word “reform” as though it’s nothing of the sort.

    You do know Tom that Liberal power brokers and business leaders spoke out against WorkChoices, but let me see…… nup, nothing from Tom mentioning that as a LNP “reform” in quotes.

  2. Hi Tom,

    Julia Gillard has suggested that under the proposed legislation employers can apply for a representation order. This is a bureaucratic response and places employers in the unenviable position of having to choose their preferred union. They have to pick a winner and suffer the backlash of the union that they do not choose.

    If the employer is given the power to choose which union is to represent his workforce, the real possibility emerges that secret deals will be done between employer and union, at the natural expense of the ‘represented’ workers.

    Should be entertaining to watch, all the same.

  3. Very clever analysis by Tom of Melbourne.

    At a time that the resources sector, and the rest of the economy, the motivation of a large number of unions is to pick over the carcass.

    This is the value adding by these has beens.

    The ALP will provoke a further steep reduction in confidence if this legislation is passed without amendment.

    Adrian – I’ve always commented on the actual components of Workchoices, most didn’t bother with exercising any intellect on the subject. They just lapsed into a bland, predictable partisan, politically correct position.

  4. I mean –

    At a time that the resources sector, and the rest of the economy, is in free fall, the motivation of a large number of unions is to pick over the carcass.

  5. ” It is poor policy,”

    Maybe. But what In your opinion were the policy options and what was the best one?

    So I have two questions. First, the options = the possibilities. Second, the preferred option and perhaps some supporting argument.

  6. Well Nature 5, the position on this issue is quite simple. Unions should retain their traditional coverage via their respondency to industrial awards.

    Even through the award modernisation process can allow the preservation of coverage. Everyone is better off through less coverage disputes, rather than more. They are destructive to industry, they are promoted only by union ambition and greed, and coverage has nothing to do with getting better wages and conditions for workers.

    In the medium term, unions should be required to amalgamate on an industry basis in much the same way that various governments have required local councils to amalgamate.

    There are plenty of other problems with this legislation. This is just a front end issue.

  7. NSW Senator Doug Cameron, a member of the committee, asked Mr Buswell how it would work.

    “That would be part of the discussion and the understanding of the decision to take a job or not,” Mr Buswell replied.

    “So it’s ‘my way or the highway’ … back to Work Choices?” Senator Cameron asked.

    “It’s our view that … (employees and employers should) arrange their affairs to have flexibility as they see fit,” Mr Buswell said.

    “You don’t have to take the job, at the end of the day.”

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/735085/wa-to-reject-new-federal-ir-system

    It will be interesting to see if there is a ‘turf war’ in WA.

  8. “promoted only by union ambition and greed, ”

    By that statement, I take it to mean that certain officials (elected?) pursue their own individual, self-interest? And the members, the voters, can’t see that? Maybe you’re right (correct).

    Would Uncle Bill fall into that category as well? Or has he been rescued because his statements suit a particular point of view?

    As for:

    “There are plenty of other problems with this legislation.”

    No doubt! I am yet to see the ‘perfect legislation’ because all policy positions whether they be enshrined in legislation or not are compromises. A balancing of interests. Isn’t that the nature of democracy? Isn’t ‘politics’ the art of the possible? Particularly in a democracy?

    As for:

    “unions should be required to amalgamate on an industry basis in much the same way that various governments have required local councils to amalgamate.”

    I am not sure about ‘required’ re unions but then again I know the amalgamations of local councils was highly desirable.

    Will ponder that response.

  9. Jebus Croupe!!!

  10. scaper…

    A good link.

    As for Buswell’s comment:

    “You don’t have to take the job, at the end of the day.”

    True. But simplistic.

  11. Tom re your comment:

    “This is a bureaucratic response”‘ Isn’t it more a legal option? It allows or indeed forces people or organisations to make considered choices? Are you suggesting that Governments mandate union coverage?

    As for:

    “places employers in the unenviable position of having to choose their preferred union.”

    Assuming what you say is true (and I don’t know) then surely the employer is well (best) equipped to make that evaluation? I imagine Uncle Bill would hope that he had the ‘divine right’ of coverage as bestowed by history. (I will confess that Bill is not my favourite official but then the CFMEU would not make pleasant dining partners as well).

    I await your response.

  12. Hi Tom

    Not sure if you are reading this, but is there any evidence that Workchoices created unemployment and/or drove wages down???

    Since AWA’s were only 6% of all workers I would be surprised if any conclusions could be made.

    Where I work it is all contract stuff. We were offered an extra $1,500/year. I must admit I was suspicious. Most Aussies do not belong in a union.

    However i do not belong in a union but I do get the benefit of union muscle. People who do contract work do not care about unions because they have unsecure jobs. But i did get the benefit of union representation even though i was not a member.

    lots of people in Australia get the benefit of Union muscle even thought they do not contribute fees.

  13. Well Nature 5 – I always think that the job of our government is to legislate the public interest. I know this concept is quite foreign to ALP/politically correct types.

    Their view is that the job of an ALP government should just look after the interests of unions and other organised pressure groups.

    And this legislation goes a long way to mandating a role for unions that they’ve never enjoyed before.

    The ALP wants to avoid choosing between affiliates – so they’ve given the impossible process to employers. Good politics, bad policy.

    Ludwig already has a devine right – he has his own personal faction! Made up largely of relatives. It doesn’t get any better than that in the ALP!!

  14. Tom

    Why is it horrific for unions to pick over carcasses when businesses do it all the time and traders on the ASX short sell stock resulting in the collapse of companies thorugh nothing else than their own greed.?

    Why is it horrific for unions to try and expand their area of influence when businesses do it all the time through monopoly control and underhanded price reduction tactics to destroy their competition. Which in the end leads to far higher prices and no competition resulting in much more substantial damage in the lond term than industrial action over a limited period by a union.?

    It is extremely and I mean EXTREMELY rare for a company to sink as a result of union action. It is usually a result of disgraceful management practices and greed. I should know ,I received a copy of the bankruptcy report of all bankruptcies lodged in Australia each week as a result of my employment in the finance industry.

    A bit of perspective is needed in the Union bashing exercise.

  15. I’m blogging from my mobile again – so the lengthy but rational responses may be less lengthy.

    Shane – I think the decline of manufacturing has been significantly because of underinvestment. A reason for this lack of investment has been the traditionally unstable industrial environment created by unions.

    No company will invest in plant improvement when both construction and operations gets screwed up.

    Get in the real world Shane – unions didn’t create the GFC – but this legislation (and unions) won’t help avoid the severity of it.

  16. Tom

    I completely disagree

    All of the evidence to underinvestment in manufacture and infrasctructure is now strongly pointing to the privatisation of previously owned government assets, together with the stripping of companies of funds for investment by way of over the top dividends and equity refunds to shareholders and executives together with the demand that dividends comprise unrealistic percentages of profit ( namely 85% to 95%). These are the real resaon for lack of investment over the last 20 years.

    This exact reasoning was being discussed this morning in relation to the power outages and terrible infrastructure of the power industry in Victoria at the moment which has been left to deteriorate under privatisation.

    Remember Jeff Kennett sold the power assets years ago and now the results of excessive dividend and management remuneration together with lack of maintenance are coming home to roost. Same as public transport of which funds were sucked dry and then handed back to the Government because they could not make enough profit.

    I agree unions did not create the GFC so why don’t you take to task the greed that did instead of being a prophet of doom over one sole thing that gives unions a bit more power than they previously had.

    I am in the real world Tom (I own my own small business do you ?) whereas you seem blinded by ideology and not facts. I suggest you delve into facts rather than blanket assessment based on the traditional bashing of unions.

  17. I know this concept is quite foreign to ALP/politically correct types.

    Their view is that the job of an ALP government should just look after the interests of unions and other organised pressure groups.

    The paradox is back!

    I didn’t notice the Howard Government looking after the interests of workers (who the unions represent). In fact WorkChoices was the result of them looking solely after the interests of business and other organised pressure groups. Didn’t Howard even change the law allowing the Exclusive Brethren to exclude unions from the workplace?

  18. I’m always amazed at the inconsistency of people who claim on the one hand to be all in favour of limited government, but then proceed to argue for massive regulation of labour. I guess what they really want is limited government interference in business.

    Comparing trade unions with with local councils is ridiculous. Local councils are an arm of the executive government. Trade unions are free voluntary associations of individual citizens. I mean why not have the government compel the amalgamation of bowling clubs and credit unions and give the resulting institutions monopoly rights? It will after all be more efficient, in theory at least.

    This kind of government control is a hallmark of socialist systems. Irrational hatred of trade unions sure does make strange bedfellows.

    Unions compete for membership just like companies compete for customers. Frequently it causes inconvenience for third parties. I still prefer competition to the alternative.

  19. Good to have you back on here Ken.

  20. Wise words Ken.

  21. Yes. Ken prefers the traditional model of union coverage.

    Take an existing Australian manufacturer. One union covering operators, another representing some trades, yet another covering other trades. The warehouse has another union, the clerks are in another. Perhaps some of the professionals in yet another.

    Yet the proposed legislation preserves this mess. But better yet – it becomes a bigger mess – because it is then overlayed by allowing any union with rules coverage to intervene.

    This is ALP best practice. Seemingly supported by those that should know better.

    .As for ‘paradox’ Kittylitter, perhaps both rabid and rational?

  22. Tom

    You are showing your bias when you call these things ALP best practice. Obviously it is not only unions you detest but anyone that is not conservative right wing ideologically leaning.

  23. I’ll just add that this is no model for cooperative workplace relationships.

    The contrary is this the case. And the ALP should be condemned for proposing this BS.

  24. As for ‘paradox’ Kittylitter, perhaps both rabid and rational?

    hehe, I don’t think anyone would accuse you of being rational when it comes to unions.

  25. “Trade unions are free voluntary associations of individual citizens.”

    Ken, do you really believe this?

  26. Tom

    and WorkChoices was a model for cooperative relationships ? Where is your condemnation of the Liberal Party.?

  27. and WorkChoices was a model for cooperative relationships ? Where is your condemnation of the Liberal Party.?

    Exactly, it seems that in the free market ideology of business, it is only unions and therefore workers who are required to be co-operative. Business and employers must not be constrained or even inconvenienced by any rules or requirements.

  28. Yes Tom, the way in which workers choose to represent their interests frequently inconveniences management. You appear to believe that this is self-evidently a bad thing; i.e. your starting point in the discussion is that efficiency is an absolute good and the state should control any third party like a trade union that interferes with management’s right to do what it pleases. Totalitarian governments feel exactly the same way.

    Me, I prefer to see a certain level of individual freedom from government control, even if it does make occasional problems for poor down-trodden managers.

    Tony yes of course I believe it as a general proposition, although I’m sure someone can come up with isolated incidents where people have been coerced. That doesn’t detract from the general argument. In fact the evidence suggests that many non-union members would like to join a union if they had the opportunity. One reason they don’t, of course, is that they would be victimised by their boss.

  29. How very interesting Ken.

    Fragnentation of the collective by individuals choosing their own tailor made unions. One man unions making binding agreements with the employer.

    Or perhaps your principled commitment to the concept of individual choice is tempered by you own version of pragmatism.

    No doubt you aren’t referring to real choice. You’re only advocating limited, disruptive, choice between the existing stale lot.

    Very high level and principled.

  30. kittylitter, on January 30th, 2009 at 11:25 am Said:

    As for ‘paradox’ Kittylitter, perhaps both rabid and rational?

    hehe, I don’t think anyone would accuse you of being rational when it comes to unions.

    On the contrary, I think that you will find that he is very IR-rational Kittylitter 🙂

  31. Kittylitter & Shane. I’ve always been critical of Workchoices. I disagreed with reduction of job protection and elimination of dismissal laws.

    I did’nt endorse the elimination of the employment safety net.

    I still think that some unions behaviour is in need of continuing tight regulation. Bullying and intimidation has no place in the workplace and some unions exhibit plenty of this.

  32. Perhaps Tom you would favour a single government-mandated trade union to look after all workers? Employers would be much happier to know who they had to deal with and it would certainly be very efficient. If the government appoints the senior officials it guarantees they will behave appropriately and industrial conflict will be a thing of the past, much to the delight of managers. Many other countries have adopted such a system – for example the Suharto Government in Indonesia thought it was a splendid model, as did the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party until recently.

  33. Ken

    And another benefit is that we could have a big march past each year and co-ordinated gymnastics and those paper-turning displyas too, where words and pictures magically appear in the crowd.

    I guess that’s what Tom wants.

    😛

  34. Come on, Joni, you already get one of those……:)

  35. LOL James…. took me a few seconds but gave me a belly laugh.

    And to think that I have been a meeting this week on our planning for the MG march too.

  36. What to make of this……..by the way, I don’t have an opinion on it, but I suspect there’s a bit of self indulgent, blackmailing BS from both parties.

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/pr-war-connex-sticks-it-to-union-20090130-7tjo.html

  37. James

    Yes, most of the time both parties are at fault.

    This is what gives Tom so much ammo, many unions are not model citizens

    This does not mean that we should abandon them, but that we should hold them to account.

    Which is what their members should be doing.

  38. “a bit of self indulgent, blackmailing BS from both parties.”

    Undoubtedly. But also very convenient for Connex to publicise it now to try avoid any blame for the problems. I am sceptical about Connex’s claims that 80% were union related for a couple of reasons 1) they initially lied about the number of services that were cancelled 2) the offer of free trains today and 3) Melbourne has been having problems with their trains much longer than this claimed dispute.

    Tom,
    BOO!

  39. No Ken. You really should stop seeking to express teh opinions of others, you have enough difficulty expressing you own.

    On one hand we have the dead hand of unions in manufacturing etc with a multitude of overlapping union coverage, and the restrictions that this imposes. The ALP policy is to encourage more of this. Your own comments are supportive. THere is no value added for employees in this process/debacle.

    On the other hand we have opinions from those of us not in ivory towers, such as my own. Practical, beneficial for all particularly employees.

  40. I have absolutely nothing kind to say about Connex. To me they represent the very worst of profiteering and contempt for their customers, most of whom have no alternative but to award them their custom. Nothing makes me angrier.

    That said, I would be enormously disappointed if I discovered that the sort of petty bahaviour described by the article had been engaged in by the union in a time where everything else is going to shit in public transport. Stickers? Really? If someone dies from a heat related condition over something like this it will end trade unionism as we know it. And I’m a supporter of the concept of employee representative groups.

  41. I use the Light Rail in Sydney and they have the same issues – treating customers with contempt.

    On NYE – they just decided not to stop at our stop because the tram was too crowded. And so we had to get off two stops later and walk back for 20mins. And when we complain they just say call the help line.

    And then last night, after the concert at the Ent Centre, they only ran trams to Star City, even though lots of people wanted to go to stations beyond. But of course, they still charge you the full amount for a poor service.

  42. Yes Tom I know, the agents of capital have always been eager to tell workers what is in their best interests, workers being poor simpletons who are incapable of working it out for themselves without the guidance of their betters.

    Me, I refrain from expressing any opinion at all about how workers should organise themselves. I’m sure they’re the best judges of their own interests. I simply object to employer apologists like you trying to get the government to solve your labour problems for you.

  43. Just thought to run it by hubby who has been a tradie for 44 years and these 2 unions are to do with TAs (trades assistants). The qualified tradies are not generally in either of their unions.

  44. From 2nd

    the dead hand of unions

    It was only a matter of time wasn’t it ……sigh.

  45. Well Ken, I wonder whether you actually believe in the right of workers to organise as they wish? Or whether your opinion is based on your own view of what is good for them?

    Do you think groups should have the right to opt out of collective arrangements? Is the entire range of employment arrangements available in the Ken system?

    I suspect the reality is that your preferred system is defined by your own narrow prejudices.

    ‘Employer apologist’? Ken I recall you once owned up to being chief negotiator of the terms of surrender for the construction industry!

    Tom R – blame Ken.

  46. Tom R – blame Ken.

    Too hard 2nd (not sure if that name is still applicable here, but somehow 1st just doesn’t fly), lets just stick to blaming the unions 🙂

  47. LOL Tom you really belong in a museum. ‘Terms of surrender for the construction industry’ … do you still really see industrial relations as a battleground? It’s like you are still living in the 1980s and Norm Gallagher is terrorising the suits in Collins Street.

    Despite your desperate fantasies I have no ‘system’. I leave them to cold war troglodytes such as yourself.

    I spent 25 years working for employers and their associations. Not once did I hear a manager concede that his labour problems were a consequence of his own stupidity or incompetence; always they were caused by those damn unions. Fortunately managers like that are not so common these days but like a living fossil you carry the torch for them.

    Stay true to the cause comrade.

  48. No system? Really I find that most surprising Ken.

    You do advocate workers being able to organise themselves into whatever union they wish. You also suggest that workers are free to join or not join unions.

    This seems very fine, certainly new age and hippy – but at work!!

    So it sounds as if you’re in favour of workers opting out of the collective, choosing their own bargaining agent or a union of their personal choice. Or not.

    Sounds familiar.

  49. Freedom of association is new age and hippy (sic)? Now you’re just talking gibberish old son. Stick to the union bashing is my advice.

  50. ‘Freedom of association’ (?)

    Yes Ken, but not as we know it.

    ‘Employer apologist’… And you spent 25 years representing constuction industry employers?

    Did you believe what you were advocating? Did you not believe what you were advocating? Or have you simply changed your mind?

  51. Tom of Melbourne

    “Did you believe what you were advocating?” etc

    Do members of the legal profession have to believe in the innocence of their clients? Or do they operate on the basis that their client deserves the best presentation possible?

    If the former was the ‘norm’ then people like Rumpole would have been out of business. Lol.

  52. Well Nature 5, that really depends on whether Rumpole (or bona fide members of the legal profession) would have made “defendant apologist” style comments once they retired from their profession. I suspect not.

    The construction industry is particularly grubby, and it is entirely understandable that Ken have a fairly jaundiced view of it.

    I must point out though, that unlike Ken I’ve always maintained a certain standard, which has not included being employed by employer associations, or in fact being an apologist for them.

    By the way, I’m now free from my leisure, and blogging via a keyboard rather than picking away on a mobile. I must figure out how to activate a spelling and grammar check on my mobile.

  53. By the way, “hippy ” was not a typo, I thought Ken’s views were very much along the lines of a “make love not war” style sentiment.

  54. “By the way, I’m now free from my leisure, and blogging via a keyboard rather than picking away on a mobile”

    Clearly your ‘leisure’ was restricted, given that your mobile was still within range. Maybe next time. The outback awaits.

    I am about to depart for rest and relaxation and on this occasion I am off to Broadbeach in a serious effort to keep the economic wheels spinning. While I wanted to go North, the rains and cyclones mean there will be no attractions such as dust or flies. Water, water everywhere but (useful) only if you’re off the drink.

    So we have decided to go to the beach where the only ‘flies’ will be found at the bar. And while they are attracted to ‘losers’ in the bush, they love ‘winners’ at the tables. Not sure why.

    Tom you are indeed a radical. What’s with this ‘spelling and grammar check’. Get with it! Or should I add a number of ??? or !!!. Never sure what punctuation stutter (on every occasion) is supposed to achieve. But I do know that it says a lot. Lol.

  55. Broadbeach for leisure? Sounds more like penance. The best thing about Broadbeach is that it is within a couple of hour’s drive of a decent restaurant.

    The restaurateurs of the Gold Coast do prefer the “all you can eat” menu, and most of the visitors appear to get good value from the deal. Mountains of crumbed seafood, with chips and limp salad. I think a very fruity moselle goes well with the Broadbeach cuisine.

    Yes, occasionally the outback does look ok, but only by comparison.

  56. Tom

    Yes those unions are disgraceful arn’t they, trying to uphold workers rights what a terrible injustice on business.

    And now for just another example of the honesty, integrity and transparency of the companies and their management in the business world.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,24993027-643,00.html?referrer=email

    At the moment I am seeing far more stories like the one above than union militancy. Yet Union militancy continues to be the beat of the drum of the conservative right. Thank god that the majority of the people have finally seen thorugh this smoke screen of an excuse and dismiss it for the useless attempt at blaming anyone but management and their greed for the failure of businesses.

  57. Shane, I never disagree that there are many unsatisfactory companies; I’m certainly a supporter of protection of employee entitlements. And I’ve never approved companies avoiding their obligations to their employees.

    I’m in no way opposed to unions that behave lawfully and responsibly, I’ve specifically pointed to the good work by some unions in several sectors.

    I tend to think that governments should come up with a fund, or guarantee, paid for from part of the state government payroll taxes, to guarantee employee entitlements.

    But there is a central point here; unions represent only 14% of the private sector workforce. They aren’t capable of representing or protecting more than a small minority of the workforce most likely to be exploited by unethical employers. That’s the simple reality.

    In these circumstances workers are entitled to a framework of employment conditions that provide better, enforceable protection. As well as protection from being dismissed unfairly.

    Individual, statutory employment instruments are capable of this, if underpinned by appropriate standards. We probably didn’t have a problem with AWAs until the previous government stripped away the reasonable safety net, and eliminated the reasonable standards for job protection. That was rubbing salt into the wound.

    A minority of unions have engaged in behaviour that would not be tolerated in any other activity or enterprise. But some seem to regard this behaviour as reasonable, only because it is unions that do it. And this is not the recollection of a dinosaur, this behaviour was a handful of years ago, it gave the previous government the excuse to introduce the more extreme elements of their legislation.

    The current government is now releasing them from some of the necessary regulation. This is a poor decision, particularly in the current economic environment.

  58. Tom

    Why on earth should the government come up with a fund for employees. The business is the one which has made money and profits over many years from the energy and intelligence of their employees, not the Government.

    Payroll taxes are infintessimal to the profit generated by companies yet you expect taxes to cover workers rightful benefits.

    Amazing you seem to want no interference in business yet expect the government to provide money for workers when that should be provided by the business as required under law.

    1% or 14% is irrelevant. If the worker wants to be represented then that is their right.

    The only reason they cannot represent the worker is due to the draconian legislation introduced by the previous government together with overbearing intimidation by management. If you cannot see past the continual denials by management then you are totally blind to the truth, If management were so wonderful why are there so many being sued by the wrokplace ombudsman ( a cost now fostered on taxpayers which used to be covered by union membership fees and their insurance).

    Have you ever truly read the legislation that was introduced against unions by the previous government over a period of 12 years.

    Amazing you talk about the minority of unions engaging in behaviour that is dubious. I am sure you will find far more reports on the dubious dealings of management of many companies if you care to read all of the articles regarding the abuse of staff rights and the loss of their benefits.

    Better protection is fine in theory. When you have to think whether reporting your employer for an offence will harm your career and future prospects with both your current employer and future employees I think you would understand the amount of non reporting of offences that happens. ( I was one of those who chose to be silent for fear of retibutiuon and know how common this practice is)

    This is why unions are a necessity, they operate without fear of being sacked or retribution from a current or future employee.

    The previous government did not change legislation as a result of union action . If you believe that then you really are smoking something. Being a member of a union I witnessed the complete destruction of the unions rights to protect us as members by the previous government.

    The previous government changed legislation under the pure ideology of John Howard. He has been anti union for a long as I can remember which is around 30 years now. Why do you think that some of his ministers expressed absolute concern at what was being introduced under workchoices and the disagreements they had.

    Thankfully the majority of aussies seemed to agree and voted the extremists out. What still amazes me is the John Howard supporters, who use every other excuse under the sun for his loss ( including the ridiculous assessment that we just wanted a change than admit the WorkChoices was the overwhelming reason.

  59. Tom

    From the research I can find, which is open to challenge the following is interesting.

    There are 46 unions in Australia.

    There are over 610,000 businesses operating in Australia.

    If the unions engaged in untoward behaviour 10% of the time then that would be 4.6 actions a year.

    If business engaged in untoward behaviour 10% of the time then that would be 6,100 actions per year.

    Wonder whose actions effect the least able to defend themselves in our community.

  60. Shane, I think both major political parties are looking for some form of guarantee for employee entitlements.

    Employee entitlements aren’t high on the list of creditors when a company is being liquidated, so in these circumstances employees have to wait in a lengthy queue with a whole lot of other creditors.

    Is that what you are suggesting?

    Shane, union membership has been in decline for decades. Have a look at the ABS data. The decline has been constant, it fell under the ALP government during the 80s & 90s, and continued following the election of Howard. I think it was falling under Whitlam and Fraser too. Decades of relentless decline. The graph looks like the all ords index over the past few months.

    As for union behaviour, you really should familiarise yourself with the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry. You needn’t bother too much with the findings, because you’ll probably argue that these are tainted. Just have a look at the sworn evidence, ie people that have been blackmailed, coerced, bullied, threatened with boycott action.

    Don’t get too sanguine about unions, without close regulation, these unions will quickly revert to past behaviour.

  61. Tom

    What I am suggesting is that business pay what it is legally require to pay to its employees on time and before any other costs. Wihtout the employees the products would not have been created or sold and as such should rank first not last. This was one thing unions used to be able to inspetc and ensure.

    Union memeber ship has been declining since Fraser but Howard was his treasurer.

    I agree with a number of things in the Royal Commision. I do not claim they are tainted. What I do claim is that the previous government used all measures possible to blame unions for every ill on this planet.

    But isn’t it amazing there is a royal commission in the building industry to destroy unions for their illegal actions. Well what about visy and the cardboard cartel, QANTAS and the price fixing of cargo and many more too numerous to mention that seem to fade away. So many more management decisions which effected companies and the money they made. I have no doubt the purchasers of cardboard products were extremely effected by the price fixing. If the same rules were applied to these companies they would no longer be in business.

    Yet those companies are still operating after a paying a fine and nothing happens. All over with the usual management speel “Going Forward”

    While I loathe illegal action by any party.I am more concerned about management behaviour which is sneaky and underhanded to avoid detection than I am about union action which gets the front page of conservative newspapers at the drop of a hat.

  62. Tom, I will just rewrite one of your paragraphs:

    Shane, all political party membership has been in decline for decades. Have a look at the ABS data. The decline has been constant, it fell under the ALP government during the 80s & 90s, and continued following the election of Howard. I think it was falling under Whitlam and Fraser too. Decades of relentless decline. The graph looks like the all ords index over the past few months.

  63. Shane, I’m not arguing against workers acting as a collective, this ought to be the best system. A single employer dealing with the representative of the workers. It ought to be efficient, it ought to provide an opportunity for alignment of interests.

    I haven’t recently counted the number of unions we have, but a traditional manufacturing operation is likely to have a 2 or 3 covering maintenance, one, sometimes 2 covering plant/machine operators, another covering the warehouse and forklift drivers, another for transport, another for the clerks, and few in the engineers. They all want a guernsey in the industrial agreement, they all want their place in the sun.

    This has been a handbrake on development of our manufacturing industry, any one part of this fragmented union structure could stop production. Investors don’t invest unless there is certainty of production. Like it or not.

    So while everyone always says our manufacturing industry has been in decline because of lack of investment, few are willing to drill into all the reasons for this.

    But briefly, I’d like to go back to my original premise. My point is that it becomes a very poor and destructive system when unions are picking over the carcass of the employer because they are engaged in a turf war.

    This fragmentation is the antithesis of the collective. It is a self indulgent play for power by the unions involved, and ALP legislation, as it stands, facilitates these turf wars.

  64. General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme…GEERS.

    This scheme was set up by the last government.

  65. Tom

    Did you ever stop to think that our manufacturing industry has closed and moved off shore because they can pay less than the cost of a bowl of rice to their employees.

    Did Colgate/Palmolive move the manufacture of their toothpaste and shower gels offshore to Thailand and Fiji as a result of union demarcation disputes ?

    Did Super A Mart stop buying all furniture manufactured in Australia because of a demarcation dispute or because they could source far cheaper ( and poorer quality) items from overseas at a cheaper price to make higher profits.

    Please give me the last example of a manufacturing company leaving Australias shores as a result of a union demarcation dispute. As I cannot find one.

  66. I agree Joni. Membership of political parties ahs been in decline for decades, and for good reason.

    They don’t offer anything stimulating to those that voluntarily join and participate.

    Heavens, I spent over a decade as a member (and occasional low level office bearer) in the ALP. I observed, generally from a safe distance, the unhealthy plays of factions and unions, the sideling of decent, committed people. The move from a party that promoted good people like Barry Jones, John Button, Gareth Evans etc, to one where union hacks traded favours and numbers to gain pre selection.

    Opting out of membership was easier than putting up with the teeth grinding frustration of the ALP structure.

    And I’ll add that I’m sure the Liberals are about as bad.

    PS – GEERS does not cover all entitlements.

  67. scaper

    GEERS should not need to exist if employees were paid their rightful enititlements as and when they fall due with funds being set aside on a regular basis for future projected entitlements, of which the business could earn the interest of those funds held.

  68. Tom

    I was a member of the young nationals for a number of years and opting out was the easier option for myself also.

  69. Shane, it wasn’t just the low wages.

    Wages in many heavy manufacturing companies are as little as 10% of total costs. It is reliability of production. If a plant operates reliably, whether it be availability of labour (a factor is industrial action), reliability of plant (a factor is work practices and demarcations imposed by maintenance employees), it is more likely to receive investment in upgrades and development.

    If there is industrial action and demarcations, then the plant won’t get investment, it will decline and operations will go off shore – to the cheapest place to do business.

    I think there are examples in the 2nd and 3rd tier auto industry suppliers. Generally production employees are committed to their jobs, but some of the other unions that are seeking membership and relevance impose restrictions that did undermine confidence in development and investment.

    PS – it’s easier on a keyboard!

  70. Tom

    If wages are as little as 10% then why are the reasons provided that we cannot compete with the wages of overseas countries.

    I have never heard of a company going overseas as a result of union demarcation disputes, but will investigate and do some research.

  71. Tom

    I attach a report regarding outsourcing.

    Maybe you care to read paragraphs 3 and 4 in regards to why businesses are outsourcing and moving off shore and tell me again it is not over wages.

    http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/business/soa/Outsourcing-guides-see-green-offshore/0,139023166,120274852,00.htm

    or this one Page 3 last paragraph as to why companies outsource to another country.

    http://www.foobooonline.com/SiteMedia/w3svc108/Uploads/Documents/303e9741-14db-42ee-9d23-743dc1c3ed3e.pdf

  72. Shane, I’ll clarify my point.

    In HEAVY manufacturing labour costs may be as little as 10% of total costs. Think about aluminium smelting, or heavy industrial sites. Parts of the auto supply

    Raw materials, cost of capital, energy etc are high costs. It ought not be surprising that labour is only a relatively small (but variable) cost in these industries. The issue is that poor labour practices have a huge impact on production and reliability. Hence a huge impact on return on capital.

    Businesses have under invested in development and reliability where there is a poorer return, and in heavy manufacturing the labour related issues have a significant impact on the return on investment.

    In relation to the articles you’ve posted, I think it is important to differentiate between labour intensive and capital intensive industries.

    Labour intensive industries, by definition, will have a high labour cost component. Australia cannot compete with cheap labour countries for call centres, except of quality of service. Similarly back of house and engineering services will be sourced overseas, qualified engineers may be paid a quarter of their Australian counterparts.

    In capital intensive industries, Australia could have an advantage. We have stable government, relatively cheap and (generally) reliable energy supplies, we have skilled labour.

    But an issue where we failed over the past 2 (perhaps 3) decades has been in the reliability of our operations, and the lack of confidence that unions wouldn’t screw up a plant upgrade or development. It has been a reasonably significant issue for investment in heavy manufacturing.

    We have less heavy manufacturing here than we would otherwise, if we had a better system of labour relations and if the behaviour of unions in construction and heavy manufacturing had been more reliable.

    And the new legislation of the ALP government is a hindrance rather than a help.

  73. As shane has so very well argued tom, the unions are not the bogeyman that you make them out to be – it is ideology alone that makes you blind to reason on this issue. Unions=BOO! is just a capitalist ‘free market rules’ fear and smear tactic to keep workers from organising and getting better wages and conditions.

    it is good to see after so long, the Obama administration has signed the equal pay bill and is also supporting the Employee Free Choice Act or ‘Card Check’ act. For too long in the US employees have been intimidated and bullied by the anti-union employers where:

    “25 percent of employers illegally fire pro-union workers; 51 percent of employers illegally threaten to close down worksites if the union prevails; and, 34 percent of employers coerce workers into opposing the union with bribes and favoritism. “

    (American Rights at Work)

    If Howard and big business had their way, we would be living in the employers paradise of the US style minimum wages called WorkChoices. Glad to see that changes are coming for workers over there.

  74. Tom

    I will do some research of the loss of heavy manufacturing in our country and the reasons for it before responding.

    However please read the posting by kitty above in regards to the disgraceful actions of employers in the US, which I also posted a number of weeks ago.

    Amazing statistics compared to the few industrial disputes they have Tom. Certainly not the actions of a remote few renegade employers when 51% use threats.

  75. Has anyone seen a follow up to the “Union stickers” story from last week? Connex were claiming that some trains in Melbourne were off line due to the union demands to remove stickers off the walls. Was this a case of union bashing or one of union thuggery? It’s one or the other and I’d love to know which.

  76. James

    Here are the latest I can find on connex.

    The last paragraph of the final posting is interesting. It seems that Connex was already bracing itself for failures in the system for another week.

    What is also interesting is that management are stating that trains with faults could be put back into service without those faults being fixed. I wonder if their public liability would pay out if something happened to the public as a result of introducing trains with identifiable faults back into the network. Sounds a bit fishy to me, more like management crossing its fingers in the hope things work and then blame anyone else when it doesn’t.

    Operations of the public transport should have never been outsourced in the first place. Private enterprise and public transport have totally conflicting charters.

    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24994924-2862,00.html

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,24979086-1702,00.html

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,24975206-1702,00.html

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,24968494-1702,00.html

  77. Not at all Kittylitter. I think unions are entirely the right mechanism for collective bargaining.

    I just have a problem with a few issues –

    1. They become conflicted between objectives through affiliation with the ALP. Personal ambition, political manoeuvring all the intrigue – isn’t good for unions or the ALP.
    2. Some (and only some) have engaged in behaviour that would be regarded as outrageous if exhibited by any other organisation or an individual.
    3. They often squabble over coverage to the detriment of employees and employer.

    For example, how many unions do you think should be involved in representing employees at Qantas? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … an even dozen?? How many should cover a manufacturing plant 1, 2, 3 … 6?

    How can a company come up with a coherent response to organised labour with so many unions looking to preserve their own patch?

    And the ALP legislation only makes this situation worse.

    I’m very much in favour of the Obama agenda. I also prefer the Democrat model, where unions often/usually support them with funding and organisation, union members are delegates to their conventions. But unions as such do not affiliate of vote. It is a much healthier political structure.

  78. Tom

    Unions become conflicted with their affiliation with the ALP. Never did my union discuss voting at a general election in the 20 years I was a member. Yet my employer via their live television propoganda since around 1994 each morning would always allude to voting intentions via some very colourful scripting.

    What about businesses and their affiliations and donations to the conservative parties. 1 very large one comes to mind in QLD that will remain nameless for fear of getting a law suit of a million dollars slapped in my face.

  79. So Shane, tell me, how many unions should represent employees at Qantas, for example? 2, 3…12?

    While I’m not defending political donors, and what they probably expect to get back as a consequence of their donation, there is a difference between this and direct affiliation. Affiliation means that the union is part of the party. They vote in the forums, they vote in pre selection, they approve the party platform.

  80. Tom

    The numbers of unions have declined as they have amalgamated and this continues, it is an evolving process, your examples seem to continue to come from the past and not what is happening now and in the future.

    QANTAS does deal with more than 1 union, but how many unions did it negotiate with 20 years ago compared to now ?.

    QANTAS also has the advantage of wedge politics when it has more than 1 union to deal with. If all employees are with 1 union then IMHO the union would have tremendous clout as it could pull the whole system to a halt. At the moment a union is required to give 3 days clear notice of the intention to strrike giving management plenty of time to bring in strike breakers or relocate their staff to the area covered by that union.

    I agree 1 union is the desired outcome and have no doubt that this will be the eventual outcome in the years ahead declining membership will ensure it. Problem is you will probably then run around claming that the union is a bullying monopoly and thats now the reason the business is going broke. I worked for the finance industry for over 20 years. When I started there were 2 unions. 1 for the private banks and one for the CBA. They then amalgamated into the FSU. Hundreds of thousands of workers and a whole finance industry represented by 1 union.

    The donor I am alluding to is a member of the party as well is that not direct affiliation and a part of the party ?

  81. Shane, I see that there is some controversy in NSW with a gambling identity making a donation to the NSW ALP. It is grubby, and probably supports the proposal for public funding of political parties.

    I’ve pointed out previously, that as a former ALP member, active and long term, I’ve never been an expert on the mechanisations of the Liberals. To me they’ve always been the blue rinse set, quite unattractive. But it is the ALP that never fails to disappoint me. And I’m willing to own up that it is usually the unions and factional chiefs that I blame.

    With regard to union coverage – the point is that the number of unions does enable Qantas to play unions off against each other. They do deals, create leverage. It is entirely unproductive. As single union would be more orderly. There would be a greater opportunity for alignment. There is a reduction in game playing by the employer and the unions.

    I’m no expert, and I think there may have been a few amalgamations, so Qantas probably has about 18 unions 20 years ago. And only 12 or so now!!

    It is entirely unsatisfactory or just stupid, but the ALP legislation will allow a return to 20(?) unions!! All arguing over their own little patch, all wanting a slightly higher relativity than other classifications or employment categories.

    Where is the sense in this??

    I see that Ken has opted out of the discussion for the time being, I’m sure that he could explain the merit of having more than 12 unions with coverage of a workforce.

  82. tom of melbourne, the B.A. Santamaria of blogocrats! (just teasin’, meant to be taken in fun, in case I get accused of a personal attack)

  83. Kittylitter – “tom of melbourne, the B.A. Santamaria of blogocrats! ”

    Sigh… if only I had my own little political party to play with, just like Bob.

    But the tag – “just teasin’, meant to be taken in fun, in case I get accused of a personal attack” is unnecessary, it’s always good fun, even when it gets a little edgy!!

    Keep up the good work!

  84. Tom

    You commented on the gambling identity making a donation to the NSW ALP yet were silent on my question regarding the donor and member of the QLD LNP.

    How will the legislation allow the reurn of 20 unions if those unions no longer exist ?

  85. Shane, there will be unions with “rules coverage” that could seek entry.

    CFMEU rules for example, would allow coverage of many classifications.

    The domestic pilots union no longer has coverage; they may be able to get back in. Pilots are unionised, just not in this one since the big dispute about 20 years ago.

    There are even largely public sector technical unions that have coverage due to the history of their amalgamation and coverage.

    Then there are unions that represent specific services such as the ANF representing occupational health and medical centre nurses.

    I’ve not had a look at the list of unions that may claim coverage, that’s just a top of the head list of examples.

    The proposed legislation is a dogs breakfast.

  86. Tom

    Now you are simply assuming and alluding to the worst case scenario that unions will try and enter these areas. How do you know their rules allow coverage of these areas and classifications. No doubt these items were covered under amalgamations in the past.

    Once again can you please tell the the date of the last demarcation dispute that effected a business.

  87. Shane – haven’t you heard of the dispute between AWU and CFMEU? Various mining projects have been disrupted by it. Only several years ago.

    While it has only been simmering for the past couple, due to tight regulation, it will flare again with the misdirected ALP legislation.

    This multi site dispute cost millions.

    Coverage disputes easily spread. A dispute between unions in mining and construction can easily spread to manufacturing, airlines etc.

    So do you agree that 12 unions covering a workforce is a sign of a poor industrial structure?

  88. Tom

    I do agree that 12 unions covering a workforce is excessive, however if you look back at the history you will find that many of these industries which were separate small businesses were taken over by big businesses and amalgamated.

    But I have no objection to pilots having a union and baggage handlers having a union and flight attendants having a union. They have different needs and have the right to association just as much as business does.

    Business has their own small groups which are then represented by their national body. Why should it be any different for workers representative groups.

    Various mining project disputes several years ago, is that 2 years or 15 years ago ? can you please give me the details so I can research this dispute. I will search the internet today.

  89. Shane – if you do a search on “AWU CFMEU WA mining demarcation coverage dispute”, you’ll probably find plenty of material.

    I think the dispute was occurring as recently as 2004.

    Another that is on the public record that I’ve referred to in the past is Saizeriya – a Japanese food processing company that had plans to built 5 processing plants in metro Melbourne. On the advice of the Victorian Government they signed an agreement with a union to cover their processing operations. The other unions that didn’t get coverage simply screwed the project during construction. Saizeriya cancelled their plans to build the remaining plants, such was the bitter experience. That was about 5 years ago.

    Great work by the unions. I don’t think they’ve quite got this type of behaviour out of their system, they need more regulation. But the federal ALP government seems willing to allow more disputes over coverage, more duplication. More unions not really seeking to improve the wages and conditions of all workers, they just want to improve the relativity of the workers they cover.

    I’m glad you think 12 unions is too many for an airline. How many should have coverage of a manufacturing plant??

  90. Tom

    this is interesting in the Australian

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24973300-5013871,00.html

    Tom, how many unions currently have coverage in a manufacturing plant ?

  91. Shane, I think that is the article I referred to in the introduction to this thread.

    Even the AWU thinks the legislation is a problem.

    How many unions should be represented in a manufacturing plant?

    I think a single union/workers collective negotiating with a single employer. More than a single union just means that you have restrictions on the development of skills in plant operators, restrictions flexibility etc. unions jockey for position. They don’t particularly care whether the pay increase is 4% or 5%, as long as they are paid 5% more in relativity than some other skill or classification.

  92. Saizeriya – a Japanese food processing company…

    Knew tom would get to that eventually, he always does!

    Shane the two union issues that tom quotes for nearly everything are Saizeriya and the Howard witch hunt, the Cole RC into the Building & Construction Industry.

    If that’s all you’ve got tom, I’d say that the union scaremongering is a non-issue.

  93. As has been pointed out to Tom, Saizeriya was also a Victorian government regulatory failure and a Saizeriya failure in their own processes and hiring of advisors/consultants. The proof is that Saizeriya situation remains unique, which is why it is used as a union bashing weapon for there aren’t any other significant examples of that scale to cite. Yet when used to bash unions the failure of others and the part they played, including Zaizeriya, are neatly overlooked.

  94. Here’s why it’s a non-issue, just ideology (from the article that tom quotes)

    “University of Adelaide law professor Andrew Stewart said there could be more conflict, but it was unlikely to be significant…

    There was potential for more turf wars “and I’m sure there will be one or two flare-ups, but I think they will be limited and I don’t think they will have anything like the negative effects that the employer groups have put forward”, he said.

    …Dave Noonan, national secretary of the CFMEU’s construction division, said there was no increase of notices. “I’m not aware of any increase. I think that from time to time the union serves notices to go in and see its members where we have them,” he said. “I think that’s entirely appropriate.

    “As to the Mines and Metals Association, this is an extremist group that wholeheartedly supports the discredited Work Choices model.

    “They haven’t accepted the verdict of the Australian people at the last election and they are still deeply in love with John Howard’s Work Choices.”

  95. Yes Kittlylitter, I think that quote from the CFMEU was in the newspaper article I referred to several days ago!

    The fact that a militant union assures us that everything will be ok, just relax, isn’t a great reason for confidence! AWU seems not to agree, so which union would you prefer to believe?

    Adrian, the Saizeriya dispute was one on the public record. That is why it is used as an example. The Victorian Government, despite its special relationship with unions, was unable to deliver. Japanese investors got burnt, others also.

    Victoria particularly is definitely on the nose as a place to do business.

    PS – Adrian & Kittylitter – how many unions do you think are needed to cover the workforce in a manufacturing plant?

  96. As many as the members want Tom.

    How long is a piece of string? How many business associations are required? How many financial associations are required? How many associations for the medical profession et al.?

    Vic on the nose to do business, as compared to what, NSW?

    Look at the figures Tom and Victoria has been doing well in comparison to other states, especially the non-resource states.

    Adrian, the Saizeriya dispute was one on the public record

    Oh so there were dozens of others not on the public record then?

  97. “As many as the members want Tom.”

    Adrian, a multitude of unions all covering different classifications and different skills/trades and different levels of a hierarchy causes significant limitations on skill and career development for the majority of workers.

    An easy and practical example is when a plant operator can perform maintenance on the machine they operate, and get a classification change; there is often a restriction on the work by the union covering the maintenance. The operator does not get the opportunity to develop a new skill, they don’t get the classification and pay increase.

    An employee that is promoted to a supervisory level may have to change unions, this often results in a limitation on the performance of operational work. Skills and efficiency is lost.

    A multitude of unions operating in a single workplace is not a decision made by the majority of workers, it is patch protection by a few that seek to limit access to their skill.

    The Australian Medical Association are the most obvious union that use this tactic, but they certainly aren’t the only ones.

    Saizeriya is the clear public example. The most optimistic outcome of this irresponsible union behaviour is that Victoria lost 4 manufacturing plants. There are others, some on the record of hearing at the Royal Commission, I’m sure you’ve had a look in the past.

  98. Tom,

    stop whining about the number of potential unions the employers might have to deal with.

    Surely dealing with more than one union (each representing multiples of workers) is preferable to companies having to deal individually and negotiate with each separate employee as AWA system would require?

    Oh, that’s right – AWAs weren’t being negotiated they were largely being offered on a take it or leave it basis.

  99. Tom here is a union influence on government that is totally wrong and something I would agree with you 100% on, and that the union leader lives in a Neanderthal time warp.

    Bill Ludwig’s war on science

  100. Adrian, Bill Ludwig is no ordinary union official. He has his own, personal ALP faction, it is the family fiefdom.

    He is a dinosaur, a has been, a hack. Despite this he does have a point regarding the ALP IR legislation.

    Even his motivation for his comments on IR are self serving, though reasonable.

    Huh, how many unions should have coverage of a manufacturing plant?

    Is it union/worker solidarity when an elite union occupies a strategic position and denies access to higher level skills by the vast majority of workers?

    Don’t you think that the majority of workers might have a right to have something to say about this?

    When 86% of workers in the private sector aren’t in unions, how do you propose to guarantee the conditions of individual employees?

  101. A majority of workers do have a right to say something about it and take whatever benefits the unions win for their members without hesitation.

    Most of the conditions that those 86% of workers operate on have been won by unions, and the moment the unions are gone and they lose them all then see how fast workers start collectively organising.

  102. Fair enough Adrian, maybe people in the service sector will start joining unions. Though I really can’t see all the waiters, IT people, clerks, casuals in retail etc joining up.

    Much of the traditional workforce remains unionised (manufacturing, utilities, public service, construction). The service industry isn’t, and I really think it is just wishful thinking to imagine that this generation will sign up.

    With regard to the other issue, here are a few real examples –

    When a mechanical or electrical union withhold agreement for operators (in another union) to perform low level maintenance work on the machine that they operate, how is this resolved? Operators could access higher skills, and get a pay increase, and it is in the interests of the business to have this flexibility.

    When the operators union takes action to get access to the skills, I’d write a post here criticising the destructive tactics. If one of the elite unions took action to protect their patch, I’ also write a post stridently criticising their irresponsibility!

    It is an issue that won’t be resolved through an industrial mechanism, it needs regulation and leadership by the government and this one is going in the wrong direction.

  103. “Huh, how many unions should have coverage of a manufacturing plant?”

    As many unions as the workers choose to join.

  104. Tom

    If things go too far people won’t join unions they will vote for extreme left wing parties that will nationalise private industry. Look at South America.

    Business needs to be careful how many people it lets fall into the status of working poor, before the working poor destroy them with their own democratic governments.

    I don’t think any of us want that type of situation to eventuate.

  105. Huh – “As many unions as the workers choose to join.”

    So if a splinter group bottle up access to skills to the detriment of the majority, you don’t have a problem with this?

    The withholding of access to skill by some trades is a real issue for a majority of workers. Specialist unions organising themselves in this way isn’t collective bargaining, it isn’t the union doing the best it can for the workforce.

    When mechanically oriented operators have the ability to do a basic service on the car they drive to work, but they can’t apply the same skill on the machine they work on every day for 8-10 hours, you’re in favour? You’d prefer them to get less money, and be less skilled?

    I wonder whether Kittylitter (for example) thinks the nursing profession appreciates this type of restriction being applied by the AMA?

    It is a rort that is against the interests of the majority, but you seem to mindlessly defend rorts.

    Fair point Shane.

    I’ve been to South America a few times. It is very rich culturally, always interesting.

    I hope we aren’t on a similar path. I think most of the countries there have a range of problems that we’re fortunate to have avoided so far.

  106. Tom,

    Ah, attempting to shift the goal posts again.

    Your initial question related to NUMBERS of unions. It was answered.

    Now you are attempting to make out that the question was about something else entirely.

    I’m not going to play your games, pathetic and amusing as they are when you trot out your usual stale and boring (through sheer repetition) talking points based on 1 or 2 examples of bad unions while completely ignoring the many instances of employers being equally as intransigent.

    Unions = BOO as far as you are concerned and despite your attempts to claim reasonableness it is quite obvious that you have are in fact completely unreasonable when it comes to the topic of unions.

  107. Tom

    I think the private businesses operating form South Amercia didn’t think they were at that stage a few years ago either. Nor did the monarchys of Russia or France.

    I wonder when it is considered we have travelled down the path long enough, and I hope we are able to turn around and came back.

    Concentrated wealth by Monarchy, Government or Big Business will result in the same eventual outcome if the Government does not protect its middle class and poorer citizens from the excesses of any platform.

  108. Well Huh, so you think an individual can choose to join a union where they are the only member of that union in their workplace and negotiate an enforceable industrial arrangement.

    But it is poison if the individual seeks to do that themselves, ie have an AWA.

    There is a degree of inconsistency here I think.

    Shane, having looked at South America over about 20 years, I don’t think we are on that path.

  109. Yes, Tom, there is inconsistency – yours for whining about the number of unions an employer might have to deal with while supporting WorkChoices AWAs that were supposed to be ‘individually’ negotiated.

  110. No inconsistency from me. I’ve been saying exactly the same thing for years.

    It will be really good for employment when unions are having a competition to find who is the most militant.

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