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Unions and Turnbull on the same page? Destroying worker freedoms!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

I'm afraid we're seeing a big political swing against freedom in the workplace. The most obvious driver of this agenda is the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Essentially, what unions want are changes to the Fair Work Act to force businesses to do deals with unions. The FWA was created by the Rudd Labor government in 2009. But it has not worked to the advantage of the unions in the way unions had expected. The key to union/business deals is that unions offer businesses corrupt deals that either (a) reduce workers' wages and/or (b) make life more difficult for the businesses' competitors. Businesses pay money to unions for this 'service'.

Coles shelf-filler and 'giant killer', Penny Vickers, exposed this in the dirty deal between Coles and the shoppies union. Penny forced the collapse of this union/business dirty deal. She's a workers' hero in the fight against union/business corruption.

The exposure of such union/business collusion has crashed the unions' business model. Their private-sector membership is less than 10 per cent of the workforce. Unions have rapidly become public-sector institutions. In order to force businesses and people into the union fold, unions want to change their own Fair Work Act.

To do this they are running campaigns with claims that casualization and labour hire are up, as if this were a big problem. This theme has been picked up by Labor leader Bill Shorten in his recent Press Club speech.

The problem the unions face is that the facts say otherwise! Casual workforce numbers have hovered around 20 per cent for the last 20 years. Labour hire has actually dropped to around 5 per cent of the workforce. Unions are manufacturing the illusion of problems.

And we can expect this campaign to extend to claiming problems with self-employment as well. Yet Australian self-employment has been steady at around 18 per cent of the workforce for more than ten years.

But here's the odd factor in this mix. The greatest threat to self-employment is coming from the Australian Taxation Office under a Liberal (free market?) government. We saw this in our battle late last year when the ATO cancelled the Australian Business Numbers of 16 low-income self-employed people, thus destroying their incomes. We fought the ATO and had the ABNs restored.

So, this is weird. We can understand why unions and their political wing want to restrict worker freedom. They want to force people into their fold. But what the heck motivates a Liberal/National government to do the same thing? Is it that the Turnbull Government can't 'walk its own talk' or has it just lost the plot?
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