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Why the Job Summit is not about workers

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Image: Johannes Leak, Cartoonist at The Australian


The Jobs and Skills Summit is about money and power for the Australian Labor Party (ALP), ALP-unions and bureaucratic cartels. 

Private sector unions like the SDA, TWU and AWU have been tanking to the point of near irrelevancy. In Queensland, the TWU barely has 2000 members. The AWU would be scratching to find 7000 financial members. In total these ALP unions represent 9% of workers. The vast majority are only members because it is a condition of their employment.

Only about 6% of workers in any private sector workplace will ever pay to join a union. The other 94% must be coerced. For example, in the commercial construction industry you simply cannot work without a union ticket. Everywhere else union membership only occurs when the employer makes it compulsory.

Why would a boss make union membership compulsory? 

The only reason is that the union has agreed to Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) conditions which get rid of penalty rates. A huge advantage to any business, particularly if your competitors can’t get the same deal.

A great deal for the boss, and an almost inexhaustible supply of membership dollars for the complicit union. For the scam to work, and union to make politically earmarked ‘easy money’ the system needs to prevent alternative mechanisms.

Australia has an employment system engineered by the ALP to finance political union networks which fund the ALP. The other side of politics has never understood any part of this. Instead, they believe the false narratives spun to disguise this rather ugly truth. Australian workers and the public have likewise been duped into subsidising this arrangement. 

If employers and employees were just allowed to talk to each other, most would happily negotiate away penalty rates in return for different shift patterns, more hours or any number of other things that workers don’t value. Like sick leave, which creates huge potential and administrative costs for employers.

Any system designed to reward unions must have the following characteristics.

  1. It must be largely unworkable and inflexible, like our Award system. 
  2. Cannot be changed by the parties themselves, even if they agree.
  3. Can only be changed by the unions and employers through a formal quasi legal process.
  4. Must be inaccessible to small businesses. They compete with big businesses, and ALP-unions don’t like working with small businesses. 
  5. No competition in the union space. More unions mean members’ interests are put first, not union executives’ interests. 

Over the past decade, the ‘favourable EBA scheme’ began failing. The device had neatly excluded all small businesses from the process. But big business and the unions discovered that they could together fraudulently game the EBA-Award rules. That worked a treat until a young Socialist firebrand Damian Hart, and later Coles night packer Penny Vickers challenged the Coles EBAs and exposed the rorts. 

The Fair Work Commissioners, all of whom had turned convenient blind eyes to what was clearly a fraudulent process, decided to pull the pin on the rort in an act of pure self-preservation.

From that point, businesses could not get an EBA that would reduce their unit labour costs. So unsurprisingly they were not interested in doing them and rewarding complicit unions with compulsory union membership as a condition of employment. 

That’s what happened, why union membership collapsed, and also what the ALP union movement and big business need to achieve at the Jobs Summit.

Other than the government bureaucrats in COSBOA (Council of Small Business Organisations Australia), there was absolutely no one who actually owned a small business, or who worked in one, allowed to attend the job summit.

The announcement of a negotiation process between the ACTU and COSBOA is simply a deception to disguise the fact that the big business friendly arrangements won’t be available to small business. By the time the proposed new small business arrangements are exposed as being unworkable, the legislation for big business will have been passed.

A vital link in the EBA negotiation chain is the requirement for workers to vote in favour of the EBA, which will make pay and/or conditions worse. This is the union’s job. But it does not work if there are two or more unions competing for the same members in the workplace. Furthermore, in a competitive environment, any union charging a premium to give to the ALP is not going to survive.

So now you know why the Red Union Group was not invited to the Jobs Summit. The Red Union Group is an existential threat to the same ‘business as usual’ political funding scam which has existed for decades. 

Banning independent unions is going be tricky with Australia having adopted two ILO (International Labor Organization) protocols, one of which says, among other things that “every worker can join the union of their choice” (not their employers choice) and “every worker has the right to form their own union “ (not be forced into the employer’s choice of union).

If the ALP and their cartels in political unions and the bureaucracy can continue the swindle, under the noses of their political opponents and the Australian public, untold mountains of cash will flow into the ALP coffers as a result. 

Media Enquiries:  hotline@redunion.com.au