Flat White

If the Morrison government cares about jobs, it can’t cave to union scaremongering

15 December 2020

4:28 PM

15 December 2020

4:28 PM

The naked cynicism of the union movement has been laid bare in its attack on the Morrison government’s very modest industrial relations changes. 

The ludicrous claim that the amendment to the BOOT test to allow covid-19 impacted business some relief from it to protect jobs and also encourage employment is WorkChoices 2.0 is arrant nonsense — and I should know because I worked for Kevin Andrews when we introduced WorkChoices. 

WorkChoices worked. Wages increased and unemployment continued to fall following on from the success of the Workplace Relations and Other Legislation Amendments Act introduced by Peter Reith and negotiated through the Senate in 1996 –- and again I am proud to say I worked with Reith on this and on subsequent IR reforms too. 

The unions have seized on these minor amendments to drive a campaign to boost membership of a movement that has been slowly dying over the decades. 

Last week ABS data showed that over the past two years membership has shrunk from 1.54 million workers to 1.49 million workers or a mere 14.3 per cent of the workforce. In 1986 45.6 per cent of the workforce were union members. 

In the private sector unions now represent a negligible nine per cent of the workforce. 


And this is where the cynicism arises. 

Unions are using these minor amendments to try and drive union membership at the expense of keeping people employed or even offering more people jobs. 

That is right. Union membership is more important than getting and keeping people in jobs. 

It is a stark case of insiders versus outsiders –- those with jobs and those without. 

Every effort should be made to ensure people can keep their jobs and that more people can win one in these Covid-19 riven times. 

But it seems the unions just do not care about the ranks of unemployed. 

Jobs, not union membership must be the focus. This is something members of the Coalition government should keep in mind. 

Media reports say that there is a divide amongst Coalition members with some wanting to ditch this modest proposal because they fear a scare campaign while others are more resolute. 

To cave in to demands to ditch this modest proposal that is built on Labor’s own FWA that actually allows for changes to the BOOT is to betray businesses and employees that are struggling under the impact of Covid-19 while denying potential jobs for the unemployed. 

There should be no backsliding on this minor change by the federal government in the face of a scare campaign from a cynical union movement that cares not a jot about jobs or the unemployed, but only for its self-preservation.  

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