The ALP and the Unions

by Don Keayes

It really bothers me when I hear the phrase “for the working man” being bandied about by ALP politicians. This Party is not concerned with “working families” at all but rather, in typical Socialist tradition, in advancing the cause of its union base and officials. Moreover, while they decry the riches earned by entrepreneurs and those who save rather than spend their wages, have you ever noticed how many lawyers and union functionaries on huge expense accounts are saying such things with a straight face?

According to the ABS, in August 2011 there were just shy of 7 million full-time employees in this country, yet only 18% of them were trade union members. When we add in those in less than full-time employment, we reach a total figure on just 1.8 million employees who are union members. How can it be that such a small number of people can have such an enormous influence on the polity of a political party? Easy: the ALP was created by and for the unions!

First off, the “by the unions” bit. The ALP Constitution notes that the Party’s origins are found in,

… the recognition by the trade union movement of the necessity for a political voice to take forward the struggle of the working class against the excesses, injustices and inequalities of capitalism.

Now the “for the unions” bit. The very first stated objective of the ALP’s constitution is to achieve,

as “a democratic socialist party … the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields.”

Ever wondered why the Labor Party doesn’t listen to you? You’re probably one of the 82% of the working population who is irrelevant to their objectives (other than at election time, of course!) In order to get that voice you have to be in a union. Again, from the ALP’s constitution:

Membership
6 (b) Members of the Party are encouraged to be members of a union or to employ union labour. State and Territory Branch rules should require members of the Party to be members of a union or to employ union labour to the maximum extent permitted by law.
(c) To further encourage union members to join the Party, State and Territory Branches should offer discounts in membership subscriptions for members of affiliated unions. [And they do in NSW … a 40% discount]

and this in addition to the fact that Affiliated Unions are still guaranteed about 50% of seats at all Congresses and meetings and you really get the sense that, like all other Socialist politics, the ALP is a very closed shop indeed.

Judith Sloan had an interesting piece in The Australian on 1 May 2012, in which she noted that, “Over time, the fall in union membership has been steep, almost precipitous. In August 1992, 43 per cent of male workers and 35 per cent of females were union members in their main jobs.” Now here’s the important bit to take away with you:

The mainstay of union membership are now teachers, nurses and public servants. The sector with the highest union membership is education and training, followed by public administration and safety. Tasmania, with its large public sector, has the highest rate of unionisation at 25 per cent.

No wonder  just about every single transfer of your wealth to somebody else now involves teachers (BER, student-free days, national curriculum, etc), public sector expansion, and health workers. Oh, and car makers. Ever wondered why Kevin Rudd gave $30 million to Toyota when they said they wouldn’t use it to build cars in Australia? He was looking after his union mates who were doing side deals as part of the bargaining process! Same thing with the Holden and Ford plants … every job supposedly “saved” by government intervention has cost a little over $1 million of your hard-earned money. “Saving” Australia’s car industry is nuts, because in total we manufacture only about 5% of what a single company needs to sell each year in order to survive in a global market … we maintain our motor vehicle manufacturing sector (and, incidentally, pay the highest prices for our vehicles in the entire world) purely and simply as a means of keeping highly unproductive unionised labour aboard the gravy train.

I could go on about the Superannuation Guarantee Levy, which increases the cost of employing somebody by 9% thereby reducing the capacity of wealth-generating enterprises to employ people while filling the unions’ “Industry Scheme” war chests with billions every year but, hopefully, you’ve got the picture by now. It won’t be necessary to write about the ICAC revelations either.

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