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The Forum > Article Comments > Unions: self-made umpires > Comments

Unions: self-made umpires : Comments

By Paul Gollan, published 27/6/2005

Paul J. Gollan argues the unions are in a precarious state and need to change.

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Look I'm not 100% convinced about the proposed IR reforms but I did note with interest Howard remark (I think yesterday) at a Liberal party do that he was not anti-union. This, i believe, would have surprised many Liberals who are extremely ideologically anti-union.

Unions on the whole are a good thing. Originally they arguably saved Europe (and hence the rest of the world) from Marx and Engels' Dictatorship of the Proletariat. And the Polish Trade Union, Solidarity, played an enormous part in bringing down Communism in Poland and the domino effect throughout the rest of the Eastern Bloc.

Just a few odd thoughts of mine.
Posted by tooRight, Monday, 27 June 2005 10:25:30 AM
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I generally agree with Graeme Wise that "People don't need trade unions if they are managed well and employees are respected." Mind you, that's a huge 'if'.
Posted by Timmy83, Monday, 27 June 2005 10:49:17 AM
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The British Newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell bought the Daily Mirror when it was down and almost 'out'. It was not a going concern. The first thing he did, was take an AXE to the WHOLE FLOOR of union related coziness, and literally smash it to pieces. Why ? because Unions are like all humans, give them an inch and they will take a mile. Give them power, and it will corrupt, just as it corrupted the 'peoples' government of the USSR and is now corrupting the 'peoples' Chinese government.

Most revolutions begin with noble goals, only to end in entrenched privilege and stupendously wealthy oligarchic power cliques.

The champions of Capitalism are also prone to the same disease, worshipping the God of 'shareholder value' at the alter of the ASX and slashing costs "at all costs" usually human.

It is clear that with the emergence of China, with its unlevel playing field, (artificially low labor rates) Unions will not have to worry about being relevant, as they will simply become extinct as China displaces all manufacturing jobs. Hence, with the time they have left, they seek to focus on the BIG industries and screw them into the ground to save their own relevance, power and privilege. They care zero about the actual workers.

If unions TRULY cared about workers, they would be BLOCKADING chinese ships full of containers ! In fact, LETS DO IT.

They will black ban companies who trade with their targets, why not black ban CHINA !

Instead of using the power of the Warfies to debilitate Australia, why not use it to protect jobs and restrain the SOURCE of these problems. CHINA.
Posted by BOAZ_David, Monday, 27 June 2005 7:14:22 PM
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What a thoughtless example of xenophobia that prevades this wonderful Democracy, we call home. What other examples of prejudice, hate and willful destruction can you manifest from your thick skull. To me, you have lost the plot - the discussion was not a trumpet call for Unionist to destroy the world with their industrail muscle, but to review the impact JH's new Industrail laws will have on the Labour Party, that incidently depend on unionist's fees and contributions to gravy support their life style.The Labour movement have a lot to answer for in terms of honest employment, conditions, wages, etc. My recollections at the coalface reeks of hypocrisy, thuggery, and intimidation. Every construction site ever built in Aust is testimony of the above three conditions for employment for contractors, developers, and workers. Any Developer will tell you ad finitum, the stories, the walkouts, the bans, the checks on overtime, the intimidation and heavy-handed approach delegates wield to get that pay rise..otherwise no work..end of story. I know, it nearly sent me broke. The Maritime Unions, the Refuelers Union, the Aviation Industry Union, yes all the Big Wheelers, movers and shakers who boast about what they have acheived for the worker is absolute fairyland stuff. Since the Eureka stockage by those hairy-fairy Irish insurgents, right through to the present day jobs for the boys and girls in the Labour Party through the ACTU is testimony of payback time for services garnished on union hacks. It's no wonder the Party is shuddering at the impact the new legislation will have on the ranks. The sausage sizzles to raise cash for those beer nights for delegates will soon be over.
And not before time.
Posted by dalma, Wednesday, 29 June 2005 9:45:19 AM
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Dear Paul,
You wrote that Graeme Wise of the Body Shop self-admittedly mismanaged a redundancy case, all without the help of Unions. Would this have happened if a Union representative was in the workplace? I think not. People need to realize that the workers should have the right to elect their own representatives to act in their interest. Unionism outside of Universities is not compulsory and nor should it be. It is up to the workers choice and obviously those at the Body Shop chose not to be represented.
But as an organization gets bigger, management is more likely to become remote from the workers. A strong individual worker might be able to represent themselves effectively to a strong-willed management. But not a worker who feels less empowered. It's for these individuals representation to management is needed. Sure Management should should keep everyone happy and productive. But they are only human, just like the Union officials! Mistakes will happen, and decisions will be made that are unjust to the worker.
I work for a large health corporation (3000 plus employees). I represent as a workplace delegate, about five of the staff, who work in a lesser-known occupation. (Ten other staff remain unrepresented). The State Health Department, and our management recently overlooked (purposefully?) an opportunity for our occupation to be remunerated for recognized advanced clinical expertise. Without our Union's intervention on our behalf, we would not now have this recognition.
I have enjoyed the benefits of have Union support to my occupation, and no what it is like to be under-represented and ignored an unrecognized by management.
So think outside of the rich getting richer, and start to think more of how the unrepresented worker can by unjustly treated. If you can't, then you are not serving you fellow Australians. Retain non-compulsory Unionism, and keep our current IR processes.
Posted by AndrewC, Thursday, 30 June 2005 10:52:20 AM
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Hmm, very explosive stuff, so I'll buy into it. Firstly, unions that have the most muscle are the ones that flex it (re a bit of thuggery) I don't condone that behaviour, however, it wasn't the banking union or the hairdressing union that won the 38 hour week was it? Most non militant unions - and their workers have been reaping the "trickle down effect" benefits that the militant unions stuck their necks out for for years. Notice back in 96 that the govt attempted to go after the waterside workers, not the hospitality union. After 8 years in one of Aust's most militant unions, I am hardly saying they're perfect, but they're more rife with complacency and incompetence rather than corruption. Idiots get elected as organisers because they're faction friendly. Rather like govt. Workers deserve better, but thanks to enterprise bargaining and the Accord (thanks Bob), there's been no need to join a union for yonks. However, with the proposed changes, I would be looking over my shoulder as an employee and hoping that my union rep has more knowledge about my rights and conditions than my boss does (or I do). Unions are in a very precarious state, but even more so the workers in this climate.
Posted by Di, Friday, 1 July 2005 11:52:11 PM
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