A long time ago, before the powerful wharfies union was beaten in a protracted and often ugly (children brought to the front line to hide behind) battle against much needed changes, I thought unions were archaic and had lost their relevance.
Now I wish they would return.
Yes we still have unions, but they are mostly powerless and dictated to by employers who know how dire our unemployment (and underemployment) situation is in this country. They know the real numbers, not those controlled by Canberra.
They consider you to be employed if you work just one hour a fortnight. Blatant manipulation of those without a voice, and yet no-one reports on it and we don’t hear it mentioned in the evening news or asked of our leaders during interviews.
We also used to believe in a ‘fair go’, but after seeing record business profits go straight to the executives, with often job cuts announced in the same week, our fair go has gone.
Large company tax cuts will NOT result in more employment or higher wages. There are countless incidences of the exact opposite occuring during the past ten years, and yet somehow the rich deserve to become richer.
The current Royal Commission into the banking and finance industry only seals this belief. Banks announce record profits then sack hundreds, sometimes thousands of workers to make sure their profit margin remains high, to maintain their bonuses.
And our unions can do nothing but feebly protest. This is not their fault and I believe they do what they can, but their thuggish behaviour of the past (1970s and 1980s) turned the public tide against them. Now they are reduced to media obscurity.
This is wrong, the pendulum has swung too far and seems stuck, unable to swing back to normality.
And so the rich executives get away with disgusting levels of pay (please, no-one is worth paying millions to each year unless they have completely turned your business around from a basket case to stratospheric profits – none of which the current crop can claim to have done).
We also have business after business not paying superannuation, underpaying and mistreating workers, and unless it makes headlines nothing is done. Even after being in the media headlines the spotlight moves so quickly in our miniscule news cycle (not to mention the fact that the vast majority of our journalists have been sacked) that all businesses have to do is wait a few days until it moves on, leaving them free to act as they please.
I certainly do not want a return to the ‘bad old days’ of unionism, but we definitely need them to be moral in their actions and outrage and powerful enough to scare big business.
Unfortunately their own actions of recent maladministration have made this nigh impossible.
So our senior executives are left to their own devices, or should I say vices, whilst their workers suffer insecurity and are paid wages that have steadily fallen behind inflation.
The gap between the rich and poor is only being enhanced by the absence of good unions and the willingness of our most senior politicians to assist those they were elected to protect.
Instead of giving the wealthy more money via tax breaks (as if they don’t earn enough), why not simply remove the $18,000 tax free threshold for those earning $200,000 or above? Why should the very rich enjoy this tax free threshold that was meant to assist the poor, which now includes our middle class?
And yet it will be the organisations, not the guilty individuals, that pay the multi-million dollar fines sought by our current Royal Commission. Those who assisted terrorists and threw Australians out of their homes and killed the ‘fair go’ continue to make more in a year than most of us do in a lifetime.
It is so absurd I’d burst out laughing, if it were not real.
One thought on “Unions – why I’ve changed my mind about them”
Another brilliant and very well written piece, Craig…..and so very true, sadly. Thank you for sharing this.