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The Forum > Article Comments > The dangers of broadening the workplace bargaining agenda > Comments

The dangers of broadening the workplace bargaining agenda : Comments

By Paul Gollan, published 29/10/2008

Should trade unions be entitled to bargain over issues which extend way beyond the workplace?

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The problems with articles like this are that they are presented in isolation and therefore out of useful context.

If we are ever to affect changes to our systems we must first view them context and in total to do otherwise is like playing pickup sticks with a blind fold oblivious to what the effects the change will cause e.g. Ruddís funds guarantee.

With that caveat in I would agree that unions should be limited to the those issues that affect their working relationship i.e. pay, benefits, super, OH&S.
Likewise an independent arbitrator with the ability to mandate solutions is essential.

The key issue with our IR system is that itís overshadowed by the 19th century class structures that spawned its beginnings. Its linkages with the political systems are counterproductive and obsolete. Its evolution is simular to the tax act confused, unplanned, unnecessarily complicated and been alternative feeding grounds for its combatants. The linkages are often arcane and more likely generates unsatisfactory outcomes for both trenches.
At least bothsides being unhappy is equality at its most base.

What has evolved are two parties dominated by organizations, organizational interests leaving the interests of those who actually vote down on the at best third level of actual decision making.

If we are to reinstitute democracy the systems need root and branch reform.
Posted by examinator, Wednesday, 29 October 2008 3:02:43 PM
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a democracy can deal with problems by political means: discussion and referendum.

an oligarchy does not allow people to participate in political discussion, but their desire to to mold their environment remains. in british societies this has led to the emergence of the labor party, and to militant labor unions.

democracy is the only way to create a just society, for without democracy, class warfare is inevitable. australia will not have democracy anytime soon, it is not part of the culture. ozzies, like brits, have a bred-in-bone conviction that politics is not for the common people. like well-trained horses, they pull the tax cart and hope their politician masters will dole out oats at the end of the day.

their politician masters can not manage the economy, can not stay out of wars, can not protect the environment, and simply can not make any plans past the next election. what they do instead is say 'periodic disaster is inevitable, because god is angry". then they call for sacrifices, from the mugs who vote for them.

since the mugs do go on voting for them, it can be argued that ozzies are too stupid for democracy. but it's not genetic, it's education. the swiss can manage democracy, and even californians. ozzies can reach that standard, given leadership. bad lick, democratic leadership is lacking too. bummer!
Posted by DEMOS, Thursday, 30 October 2008 6:58:36 AM
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If such restrictions were applied, ie only matters pertaining strictly to the workplace, were allowable as negotiating issues then presumably the actions such as those of unions in support of the Wave Hill walk off 40 years ago would be outlawed, as would refusals to load ships for Indonesia in protest at Indonesian Government policies and so on. The question surely is whether unions should be concerned with the broad issues which inevitably influence the wages and conditions eventually applied locally. Unions are rightly concerned with issues of social justice. Such social justice issues are part of the overall framework which eventually determines local decisions. Just consider the last 11 years.

The test would surely be whether the protest is of a trivial nature. Protests against apartheid or the ongoing repressive policies of the Burmese junta would presumably not be considered trivial. The reactions of people like Mr Knott are to be expected but his organisation is hardly a body of the kind which has demonstrated concern for social justice or even decent working conditions.

Large scale tax avoidance and transfer pricing are issues which have a substantial effect on the eventual local decisions. I wonder if those would be considered issues which unions are entitled to protest about, in the event that such actions were part of the behaviour of the employer of the persons represented by the union in question.
Posted by Des Griffin, Monday, 3 November 2008 11:22:05 AM
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