Do Unions Hate Self-Employed People?

Ken_phillips Ken Phillips on the union campaign to damage self-employed people. 

Last week I had a radio debate with the head union boss Ged Kearney of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, on the union campaign to damage self-employed people. Ged says that I’m wrong and unions actually love self-employed people.
But my claim is that, on the evidence of the union agitation, they think that only full-time permanent work is moral and legitimate. Here’s the ABC Radio National debate.
Through the Gillard Government, the unions are turning their desires into government action. I explained this in The Australian last week.
The ACTU produced a survey that it claims showed ‘working’ Australians support its ‘permanent work’ campaign. We looked at the survey and commented that the surveyproved the reverse. Now an academic from Monash University, Dr Tui McKeown, has also done an analysis of the survey showing that its conclusions do not stand up to scrutiny.
This debate over the future of work has a long way to go. Do we insist on pushing everyone into a sameness? Or do we embrace diversity of work arrangements? That’s what self-employment is about.

Ken Phillips is the Executive Director of the Independent Contractors Association.

Kudos: ETU breaks ranks, Rejects Gillard Carbon Dioxide Tax

Kudos to the big blue-collar Electrical Trades union for breaking ranks and saying it cannot support the Gillard government's carbon tax package because of the ''total absence'' of a jobs plan for the struggling Latrobe Valley.

Electrical Trades Union state secretary Dean Mighell said while the union supported pricing carbon, lack of a detailed plan for new industry or assistance to workers meant there was a risk of a ''massive social impact'' from the likely closure of Hazelwood power station.

Mr Mighell said about 800 direct jobs would be lost if Hazelwood closed while the loss of indirect jobs could flow into the thousands. He also warned that shutting the plant, without alternative base-load power, increased the risk of brownouts in Victoria.

Mr Mighell, who met ETU delegates in the valley yesterday, said the big industry compensation when combined with lack of guarantees for workers ''leaves us unable to say we would support this plan''.

The government has said it will spend $200 million over seven years for ''strongly affected'' regions, with help in training and diversifying. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet's office yesterday did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

The position of the Victorian ETU – which disaffiliated from the ALP last year and has backed the Greens and Labor in recent times – puts it at odds with the ACTU and other blue-collar unions, such as the Australian Workers Union, which have supported the carbon tax package.

Mr Mighell said while there were some ''great'' elements of the package, such as the funding for renewable energy and putting a price on carbon, a plan was needed to create a ''renewable energy hub'' in regions such as Morwell or the Hunter Valley.

''If you come down to the valley and you look at the potential impact this is going to have on our members down here and the communities they live in, it's almost like they took decades to get out of the devastation of the privatisation of electricity,'' he said. ''It really is heartbreaking for them to contemplate another 3000 or 4000 jobs out of this region with no plan to create anything else. That is a real concern for us.''

The union move comes as unemployment in Morwell, close to Hazelwood, has risen from 8.7 per cent to 10.1 per cent over the year to the end of March – the fifth highest rate in Victoria, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations figures show.

Via the Age.

Andy Semple

Follow him on twitter @Bulmkt

Would Howes Give Union Stamp of Approval it were Coalition Policy?

The head of Australia's largest blue collar union yesterday provided a much-needed fillip for the Gillard government by endorsing its carbon tax.

The endorsement by the Australian Workers Union came just weeks after AWU national secretary Paul Howes vowed to oppose the impost if it cost a single worker's job.

So the question that should now be put to Mr. Howes is this: If the coalition offered up the exact same policy, would his AWU Union support Tony Abbott?

Of course he wouldn’t. Howes would mount the same type of campaign Tony Abbott is making right now against this all pain no gain Carbon Dioxide Tax

It’s just more partisan politics.

I’d love to see an independent and anonymous survey on the views of the AWU’s 135,000 workers on Gillard’s Carbon Dioxide Tax, most of whom work in trade-exposed areas of the economy and have the most to lose.


Andy Semple

Follow him on twitter @Bulmkt

Swan’s budget: Gunning for contractors

Ken_phillips Ken Phillips points out the horrors the Swan Budget will inflict on the job-creating independent contracting sector:

In a startling development contained in tonight’s federal budget, the Gillard Government is moving to destroy independent contractors. And the term ‘destroy’ is not overstating the development. 
Robert Gottliebsen’s analysis of the budget describes how this is likely to occur. He says: 

The government plans to require that anyone in the building and construction industry who hires a contractor must report to the government every cent they pay to that contractor. And every contractor must report every cent they pay to their contractors. This is part of the vigorous union-encouraged attack that the government is planning on the self-employed … it will be extended to IT and other areas.

What the government is doing is tying up contract work in so much red tape complexity that the practical ability to be self-employed will evaporate. 
In all my time fighting for the right of people to be their own boss I have not seen such a blatant and intentional attack as this.
Gottliebsen’s articles are here along with the government’s press release: <>

Ken Phillips is the Executive Director of the Independent Contractors Association.

Compulsory Union Hooliganism!

Geoffrey-Bondson Voluntary Student Unionism has given students more benefits than compulsory unionism ever did, writes Geoffrey Bondson.

With the demise of Compulsory Student Unionism, university students suddenly have money. When my parents were at UWA in the late 1980s, the Guild Fees were higher and the services poorer. 

Nowadays, with voluntary membership, the Guild actually has reason to provide decent services. Also, given inflation, the Guild fees now should be HIGHER than 20 years ago – but they're actually lower. 
What does this say about CSU? 

It says it's a money-leeching, fraudulent policy that wastes time and resources. In the 21st century, with VSU in action, it is really only the bastions of old-world unionism (ie, prominent Young Labor members) in control of the UWA Guild that cause it to hold a pro-CSU position. 

There is no need for CSU, as is evidenced by higher, more enthusiastic members of university Guilds across the country, post-CSU. Why should people pay for services they do not use? The answer is, they shouldn't have to.

As a result, cashed up students don't have to rummage through the stocks of local op-shops for clothes as they did 20, 30, 40 years ago. Higher rates of pay for casual and part-time workers enable more people to live out of their own pocket, and hence we see many people on campus in high fashion. Or, at least, not charity-bin fodder.

Voluntary Student Unionism is the only way for student Guilds to keep modern and up-to-date. In an age where trade unions are slowly becoming less relevant, to the despair of many of my student colleagues – and indeed many other people in the nation who aren't students – Compulsory Student Unionism is an out-dated, inefficient way of providing for students. 

If the Guild(s) didn't spend so much time and money campaigning in favour of CSU, and instead spent their time working out how to spend that money on services students actually require, then CSU would be unnecessary.

Geoffrey Bondson is a right-wing student at the University of Western Australia who's tired of Guild leftism. He believes that it is time to retake the campuses from the radical left and replace these people with moderate, reasonable people.

Are unions as relevant and powerful as they once were?

Chris_browne Chris Browne asks if unions are becoming even more irrelevant than they already are.

I stumbled across this article today detailing how some unions are outsourcing recruitment. It seems that even the union movement now can't figure out exactly what it is they are trying to sell to workers, so they outsource it to professional marketing firms instead.

It brought back memories of the one and only time I was a member of a union. I was 15 years old and starting my first job at a fast food restaurant (I can't say which one, but there is a Colonel involved). The group of new employees were asked to sign a whole bunch of forms including the bank details form, superannuation form, union membership subscription and employee agreement.

I wasn't aware at the time (like 99% of other 15 year olds entering employment for the first time) what a union was or why the form was there amongst the others. A kind representative of the SDA Union was present to tell us that it was best if we all sign it. So we did.

A couple of months into the job I realised that I was receiving no benefit from being a part of a union whatsoever. This conclusion was reached without any political prejudice or preference; I just wasn't getting anything for my money.

Following an excruciatingly long phone call, the union said that they would stop taking my money and cancel my membership. Well, they didn't. I phoned back about six weeks later to follow this up and hit a brick wall on the other end of the line. I finally managed to convince them to stop taking my money by issuing a very hollow threat of legal action against the union if they continued to take membership fees.

About four years later I found myself in a similar situation at a major retailer when taking up a summer job. I was wiser that time and was the only person in the room of 16 people not to sign the form. Most of the others were starting their first jobs in exactly the same situation I was in some years earlier.

Unions claim to have membership levels in the hundreds of thousands, but how many of those are actually aware that they are members? How many have been fooled, coerced and now targeted by marketing firms into joining the union movement? My guess is that it would be well into the tens of thousands, if not considerably more.

I will pay credit where credit is due, however. The Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said that his union doesn't use recruiting firms because you can't "outsource core union work". 

When the rest of the unions realise that their primary duty is to represent workers and not target them maybe they will be able to attract members in their own right without employing third-party recruitment firms.

As for me, I'm never joining a union. Following my experiences with the SDA and my political views that have developed since, I simply will not join. That's not to say that unions don't have a place in the modern Australian workforce. But if they are to ever regain some semblance of relevancy they need to redefine the way they operate and practice what they preach: protecting the interests of Australian workers. That is something we haven't seen in a while.

Chris Browne is Editor-in-Chief of Menzies House.

What can Liberals do with a Student Union?

John-Shipp With Liberals in charge, student unions can actually achieve what they are meant to, writes John Shipp.

Two of the largest student unions in Australia are currently under the control of Liberals either outright or in coalition with Student Unity (right-wing Labor).

In September last year, the moderate coalition at Melbourne University won on a platform of taking political division out of the union and taking money away from activist departments, redistributing it to the services and activities enjoyed by all students.

Every year Liberal Students around Australia run in student elections. Even without likely victory, student elections train members in political communication, campaign management and other skills, skills they then bring to the Liberal Party.

At Melbourne, we have already slashed departmental budgets we promised to slash and boosted those neglected by the previous Left administration. The Activities department will be able to hold more events and the Clubs department will be able to fund greater club activity thanks to our bold measures.

In the long fight for voluntary student unionism, the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation’s opponents often cited “campus culture” as the basis to compulsorily acquire large sums of money from students against their will. Oh, the irony!

The truth is that, to a lefty, marching up and down Swanston Street waving red flags in honour of some hopeless cause is a far more effective use of student money than encouraging a thriving cultural atmosphere on campus.

But the difference between centre-right and radical-left was never clearer than during the National Tertiary Education Union’s recent industrial action at certain universities. On November 19 2009 the NTEU, displaying blatant disregard for the welfare of students, announced that it would be directing its members to withhold student results from university administrators. This left students with no access to their results for over a month, many agonizing over whether they had passed and many international students returning home to their parents empty handed.

UMSU’s left-wing student union administration publicly endorsed the industrial action in the spirit of “solidarity” despite its affect on the welfare of students and the clear disapproval of the student body – a survey showed 74% of Melbourne University students opposed the ban, with only 9% in favour.

The other left-wing agenda that has characterized student unions has been their support for the borderline anti-Semitic organisation Socialist Alternative and its campaign of hatred against the State of Israel.

With student money, Socialist Alternative ran Palestine Solidarity Week in early 2009 in response to Operation Cast Lead. The Melbourne University Jewish Students’ Society was excluded from the week.

This year we will replace Palestine Solidarity Week with Multiculturalism Week, where all the ethnic clubs on campus can come together to celebrate diversity.

In keeping with principles of economic rationalism, we are tightening the UMSU budget, reforming the sponsorship process to encourage departments to seek external funding and encouraging students to join the union by giving them something in return, not just spending student money on narrow political activism.

Post-VSU, academic pluralism will be the issue that defines Liberal Student activism into the future, so we are putting in place mechanisms that promote academic pluralism and deal with complaints of academic bias.

In sum, Liberal Students believe in using student unions to directly contribute to the welfare of students, represent the interests of students to the University and encourage a thriving campus culture, whereas the Left believes in using student-funds to advance their ideological agenda in “solidarity” with other unions.

The Right is the truly representative group on campus, the challenge lies in convincing other students of that truth.

John Shipp is the President of the Melbourne University Liberal Club and Education (Academic) Officer of the University of Melbourne Student Union.