Unsung heroes of care…

Every day, care workers are engaged in eight to ten hour shifts working with people who need help. I’m not sure what it’s like in other nations, but in UK they are some of the lowest paid workers despite the exacting nature of their jobs.

When training care workers, one of the first things they’re told is that they should not consider entering the vocation unless they have a genuine love for helping people with disabilities. Simply doing the job for a wage will lead, eventually, to stress, burn-out or costly mistakes.

Love People
If you don’t like people, or hate getting your hands dirty this is not the place for you. Thankfully, countless numbers of willing workers enter the industry and give their lives to looking after people who need the assistance of others to get through, what for most of us would be, some of the seemingly mundane human tasks.

With a growing population of elderly arriving on our doorstep, the care industry has to look at ways of better looking after care workers as well as care users. The priority will always be the welfare of the client, of course, but a well looked after worker is more likely to produce better results and a higher level of care than a care professional who overworked, underpaid and feeling stress.

But they are amongst the unsung heroes of the community. They deal with things most people couldn’t face on a day to day basis. It’s a sad truth that many elderly people suffering from debilitating mental or physical ailments would be almost helpless of it weren’t for the care workers who work with or visit them every day for the rest of their lives.

End of Days
I hope everyone who goes to be with the Lord goes in full age, full strength and with full sight, as Moses did, but, for many, getting older will mean frailty, ailments, dementia or disability, and a proportion will need care.

I don’t think we should see elderly people who have given their attention, time and skills to building our nation, nurturing their family, creating community should be seen as a burden, but should be allowed the greatest amount of dignity in their latter years as we can afford them.

Those who, for various reasons, have never been able to contribute because of infirmity should also be given the utmost respect and encouragement to live the best life they can.

For this reason, I think we should herald care and hospital workers, encourage them in their vocation, and show appreciation for the great work they do.

They should be amongst the highest paid of workers. I’m sure God will see their works and applaud and even reward them on the Great Day of his assessment of the world.


58 thoughts on “Unsung heroes of care…

  1. Every day, care workers are engaged in eight to ten hour shifts working with people who need help. I’m not sure what it’s like in other nations, but in UK they are some of the lowest paid workers despite the exacting nature of their jobs.

    Don’t worry, our government, your mates, are making sure they stay that way.

    Coalition withdraws aged care workers’ $1.2bn pay rise

    Scheme was ‘unionism by stealth’, claims government, as Labor condemns the Coalition for behaving like a ‘Christmas grinch’

    The federal government has dismantled a $1.2bn Labor scheme to increase the pay of aged-care workers, arguing the package was designed to impose “unionism by stealth”.

    The move comes two days after the government announced a $300m fund earmarked for childcare worker wage increases would largely be redirected into professional development. Labor condemned the government for behaving like a “Christmas grinch” in its attitude to low-paid care workers.

    The government used its majority in the lower house to strike down measures related to the workforce supplement that were part of the Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package. MPs voted to disallow determinations made by the former aged care ministers Mark Butler and Jacinta Collins. This does not involve repealing legislation, so the government does not need to get the changes through the Senate, where the Greens and Labor maintain a majority until July.

    The assistant minister for employment, Luke Hartsuyker, said the government would now consider how to deliver the funds “in a more flexible and more targeted way”.

    Hartsuyker said the former government had tied to the payments enterprise bargaining agreements. He said the Coalition had made clear it would “oppose this unionism by stealth” and had already suspended applications for the scheme on 26 September.

    “It was never going to reach the majority of aged care workers,” he said of the Labor package. The Coalition had pledged to redirect the funds to the general pool of aged care funding.

    Labor’s aged care spokesman, Shayne Neumann, said the decision was a blow to 350,000 workers who deserved and needed higher pay, noting a 40% workforce turnover rate and the challenge of an ageing population. He said childcare workers and Holden staff would similarly “have a very bad Christmas”.

    “What this government is doing is attacking workers once again,” Neumann said. The aged care sector had already accessed about $100m of the $1.2bn set aside for the supplements, he said. “It’s heartless; it’s cruel; it’s wrong; it’s not the way to go.”

    One of the measures disallowed – the Residential Care Subsidy Amendment (Workforce Supplement) Principle 2013 – ensured a provider with 50 or more residential care places could apply for the supplement only if it undertook to negotiate an enterprise agreement with staff. It said a provider with fewer than 50 places would not require such an agreement, but would have to pledge to meet the minimum wage requirements. In both cases, the provider would also spell out its plans for staff training, education and career development.

    Another determination struck down by the lower house set the workforce supplement at 1% of the basic subsidy available for each care recipient.

    Labor and the Greens had flagged separate efforts in the Senate to stymie the Coalition’s freeze on applications. The latest action would appear to end their hopes of keeping the scheme alive.

    The Coalition’s aged care policy, released in September, took issue with Labor’s Workforce Compact, saying it appeared to be union-focused.

    “As a first priority, if elected the Coalition will take the necessary steps to put back into the general pool of aged care funding the $1.2bn allocated to the Workforce Compact. We will work with providers to ensure available funding from the $1.2bn is distributed in a way that is more flexible and better targeted, without jeopardising the viability of aged care facilities.”


  2. So the former Labour Government ‘tied to the payments enterprise bargaining agreements’.

    But the current Liberal Government ‘will take the necessary steps to put back into the general pool of aged care funding the $1.2bn allocated to the Workforce Compact. We will work with providers to ensure available funding from the $1.2bn is distributed in a way that is more flexible and better targeted, without jeopardising the viability of aged care facilities’.

    Why should the unions being given the kind of power the former Government were pledging? They were being handed compulsory membership through stealth by Care providers being forced to negotiate with union officials present.

    The Residential Care Subsidy Amendment (Workforce Supplement) Principle 2013 – ensured a provider with 50 or more residential care places could apply for the supplement only if it undertook to negotiate an enterprise agreement with staff.

    This isn’t a pay rise so much as a union recruitment bribe.

    Nothing like shoring up the future of Labour through union officialdom.

  3. Surprise, Surprise, Steve falls for right wing propaganda, even if it means disagreeing with his original article.

    Nothing there about having to be a union member. Staff don’t have to be a member of a union to negotiate an enterprise agreement. Though why you wouldn’t is beyond me.

    This straight after doing the same to child care workers.

    Low income workers need a strong union. It’s terrible that unions fight for better pay and conditions for their workers. This is a blatant attack on low income workers and unions.

    Steve thinks that employers will give them that by their own generosity or some miracle of God.

    Lol if you think the government gives a rats about his ‘heroes of care’. .

  4. I once negotiated terms with my employer, which was above the going rate, and the unions blacked us because I hadn’t joined, sent two heavies to intimidate. They’re not perfect. This was in WA. Has much changed? I was forced to join or my company would have been blacked from any work on the docks.

    I m not, despite this, against unions if they make some adjustments to their methods. I agree that if unions can negotiate fair wages and conditions they should assist, but it should’t be a condition for care providers to have to enlist their members. Workers should be free to join or not, but if a wage is negotiated it should include all care workers and not just union members. can you guarantee this?

    Bones, if you can’t be civil it’s not worth bothering with you. You demonstrate the traits of the unions officials I have had personal experience with on more than one occasion. That is not my fault.

  5. So Gina Rinehart’s government removes the Mining Tax and penalises aged care and child care workers because of unions as well as removing government contributions to super for low income earners.

    Class warfare is back!

    but it should’t be a condition for care providers to have to enlist their members.

    Where does that happen? Care providers aren’t beholden to the union.

    Workers should be free to join or not, but if a wage is negotiated it should include all care workers and not just union members. can you guarantee this?


    Are you saying that there would be different conditions for workers doing the same work in the same workplace?

    When I’ve been on strike and not been paid, the scabs who did work and were paid, won the same conditions that I fought for…

  6. You fought for nothing. You grovelled beneath the boots of the union bosses who used you, like they’ve used men since the 1930s.

    I believe in unions, but not the unions you are cowered to.

    You even use their language. “Scabs”. Yes, I know the word.

    If only you had a medical dictionary and realised the importance of the scab to the healing process.

    But, no, you will persist in picking it off, because the bosses tell you these free men who want to feed their families and do a decent days work are ‘scabs’ because they want to do it a different way to you.

    You are not fighting for workers’ rights. You are a tool of the collective.

  7. Would that be the HSU?

    Disgraced former ALP president Michael Williamson has apologised to members of the Health Services Union (HSU) for his large-scale fraud, as the organisation moves to recoup millions of dollars.

    Williamson appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court yesterday and admitted funnelling almost $1 million of union funds into companies he had an interest in as well as recruiting union members to help cover his tracks.

    Williamson admitted claiming $340,000 for a business called Canme Services – which was registered in his wife Julieanne’s name – although no services were ever provided.

    He also admitted to defrauding the union out of $600,000 through a consulting company called Access Focus.

    The HSU says it has now finalised its civil claim against Williamson in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

    He has been ordered to pay the union $5 million for breaches of his duty, overpayments of remuneration and negligence.

    But it is unclear how much of the money will be recovered because Williamson has declared himself bankrupt.

    Branch secretary Gerard Hayes says the union will still be able to claw back significant funds.

    “We are able to withhold $1.1 million out of his superannuation and we are withholding $600,000 of unpaid entitlements,” he said.

    “And very importantly as well a public apology will be issued to our members.”

    Members of the HSU include some of the lowest-paid health workers such as cleaners and support staff.

  8. What a dishonest union official.

    Can we apply that logic then to dishonest pastors?

    You are not fighting for workers’ rights. You are a tool of the collective.

    It’s called solidarity. We saw in Poland what unions can do.

    If you think working conditions improve because an employer gives a rats about them we’d still be working 16 hour days for nothing.

    Scabs won something they didn’t fight or sacrifice for but due to the majority who did.

    But hey good luck to them. Means more money for your church hey.

    You get 10% or more of any pay rise and you can then say God blessed them. win-win! 😛

  9. Can we apply that logic then to dishonest pastors?


    Asheville pastor guilty in bank fraud case

    Court papers tie bad loans at Pisgah Community, Bank of Asheville.

    Nicholas Dimitris, who leads C3 Church on Merrimon Avenue, pleaded guilty to conspiracy for using a straw borrower to get $825,000 from Pisgah Community Bank, according to federal court papers.


    or check out Group Sects. Lot more dishonest pastors than union officials it seems. 😈

  10. Bones,
    It’s called solidarity.

    It’s the force of labor versus capital. It’s an outdated concept filled with flaws.

    Who were the Poles defending their rights against? Capital?

    No. They were the first non-communist trade union. As I said unions can do a lot of good. They were, ironically, backed by the US capital. Some $50 million, which was a fortune in those days, being invested in their fight.

    I’ve seen the unions in action on three occasions which directly affected my life. They were not positive events, even though I have been a union member. And would be again in the right circumstances.

    You would call me a scab because I would resist the unions until they changed their us versus them mentality and obstinate old-school mentality, a mentality you are exhibiting on this thread. It is perverse and a dying creed.

    The example of the cronyism of the HSU I gave demonstrates how much the union bosses care about the care workers and industry. They don’t give a monkey’s as long as they have their pockets lined with gold, and they have a ticket into the Parliament.

    So they use labor to confront capital whilst dipping into the capital they purport to despise.

  11. The significance of the Wiliamson case is that, first of all, he was president of the Australian Labour Party, and secondly, he was, for a great many years, head honcho for the HSU, Health Services Union, the very union which you are claiming would be so wonderful for the care workers you seem to think should be very trusting of and beholding to Mr Williamson for his own care and concern for their wellbeing as the lowest paid workers in the country.

    Are you attempting to say that Mr W did this all on his own for all those years and no one else is implicated in the massive cover-up and fraud which took place, and that the union has now, suddenly, become as safe as houses because he was finally exposed for who he is?

    Yes the HSU has really assisted these care industry workers to get off the bottom rung of the pay scale.

    Their very own head of the HSU, even when he was in the influential position as president of the Labour Party, failed to get a decent wage for them, whilst eking out a very decent salary for himself.

    Instead, he ‘admitted funnelling almost $1 million of union funds into companies he had an interest in as well as recruiting union members to help cover his tracks.’

    Whose funds were these, Bones? Surely not the the contributions of the union membership? Those low paid workers looking for better pay and conditions? There’s solidarity for you.

    I wonder if those recruited union members were on above award wages when they were working for Mr W. Surely not! Surely he would not reward co-conspirators whilst leaving the people he claimed to represent on the lowest wages in the country.

    So, yes, this is far more significant than any petty equivalence you can disingenuously manufacture to change the subject from the real issue.

  12. Yes and Jim Jones was a Pentecostal minister too.

    You would call me a scab because I would resist the unions until they changed their us versus them mentality and obstinate old-school mentality, a mentality you are exhibiting on this thread. It is perverse and a dying creed.

    I’d call you a scab because you’ve benefited from others sacrifice. Actually the us v them is the government’s mentality. Your heroes won’t get their payrise because of the government’s hatred of the working class collective. The government has lined themselves up against low income workers and the unions – the only organisation who will represent them.

    They’ve made that clear.

  13. You need serious help, Bones. What has Jim Jones to do with anything? Did he run a union? Are you comparing union leaders to Jim Jones? Is he an example of their conduct? Or are you so well outmanoeuvred you’re looking to aim any kind of sharp object you can get your fingers on as a diversion, hoping someone will help you with to get off the subject you’re struggling with?

    Stay with the thread if you can. I know it might be difficult for you, but I’m sure, as a school teacher, leading year 8 and 9s or whatever, and entrenched in union organisation, you can marshall your thoughts and stay on track if you try.

    You’d call anyone a ‘scab’ because that is what you are conditioned by your masters to do. It’s what unionists like you do when they don’t want to negotiate. It’s what they do when they want to intimidate.

    You haven’t called the former head of the HSU a scab for ripping off the unions you say should take care of the very people he ripped off.

    Now you are comparing him to Jim Jones, which is something, but you still haven’t called him the very worse thing you could call anyone from a union minion’s perspective – scab! Yet he must be the biggest ‘scab’ in the history of Australian unionism.

    The unions are a brilliant idea, it’s just that they were taken over by communists with an anti-social agenda long ago and they haven’t had the gumption to shake them off yet. Lemmings.

    When they do the union movement might regain the trust of the workers who are deserting them by the hundred as they see right through the antics of the people at the top.

    There is no equality for workers without cooperation across the spectrum, labor and capital.

    Until you get this you will remain a scab-picker and self-deluded union antiquarian.

    But people like you don’t want to see truth. You are only interested on some kind of social upheaval and revolution brought on by the workers. You are animal farm.

  14. Bones,
    …you’ve benefited from others sacrifice…

    Indeed, but not in the way you are proposing.

    My first contact with union activity came when I was a boy, living on a British Island, dependent on the ships which brought in our food, goods, just about everything.

    The only union on the island was the dockworkers union, the Stevedores. They already earned three or four times the average islander’s wage at that time, and worked shorter hours. They were comparitively very well off, and there was a waiting list for jobs, of course, because of the benefits they had, but it was an exclusive club, only entered through agreement with their unionism.

    One year, when the rest of the island was already struggling during a downturn, the Stevedores took it upon themselves to declare a strike for better pay. They stopped work for six weeks as they made their demands of the Island’s Harbour Authorities and shipping companies.

    They didn’t just hold the authorities to ransom, they held the whole island of 50,000 people to ransom, and no goods came in or out of the island as they refused to unload or load the ships. No exports. The agricultural and horticultural community suffered greatly, and people were laid off.

    Their greed and power flex was indescribably badly received by the rest of the islanders, and you can imagine, in a close-knit community, what kind of response there was. The unionists were refused every kind of service from the rest of the island as the whole population ostracised the unionists. Family member against family member.

    This went on for a few weeks until the unionists decided to go back to work on the back of the angry sentiment of the rest of the islanders. It has never been forgotten.

    The only benefit we received was the understanding of what unions were prepared to do to take their excessive demands beyond reason.

  15. My thought is this. Labor and capital may always be at loggerheads, and neither is right if it treats the other unjustly or unwisely. But neither can exist without the other.

    So, as it is, we need both to be strong and both to be flexible.

    When other agendas interfere with sound reason there will always be a conflict.

    Bullying and taking advantage of people to gain advantage is ungodly. It works both ways, for labor as well as for capital.

  16. And yet another union is implicated in fraud. So who are the real ‘scabs’, Bones? The people who no longer trust the unions because of the corruption, or the ones who are corrupt?

    UNION boss John Setka is fighting whistleblower claims to investigators he took free supplies in return for keeping work sites trouble-free.

    The Herald Sun revealed at 5.20pm on Wednesday on heraldsun.com.au former roofing supplier and developer Andrew Zaf had told the State Government’s Construction Code Compliance Unit he supplied a senior CFMEU official with free home renovation materials as part of a deal to ensure they would not experience any delays.

    Two hours later the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state secretary admitted getting materials but claimed he paid trade price: “The allegations by Andrew Zaf … are lies and I totally reject them.”


    Investigators have also been told CFMEU figures were gifted luxury vehicles.

    Allegations of entrenched underworld influence on construction sites are among a litany of startling claims made to government investigators.

    Mr Zaf has claimed at one meeting involving underworld identity Mick Gatto concerning project debt issues, slain gangland lawyer Mario Condello suggested: ” Let’s just shoot ’em and get the money.”

    Among further claims detailed to the State Government’s Construction Code Compliance Unit are:

    CFMEU official Shaun Reardon is suspected of having ties with the Black Uhlans outlaw motorcycle gang.

    GATTO once declined to mediate a multi-million dollar debt dispute involving close friend Mr Setka because the gangland figure did not want to “create waves” with unions.

    A CONVICTED drug dealer with ties to slain gangster Lewis Moran retains a key role with the CFMEU.

    A CFMEU-linked standover man known as “Johnny the Greek” would cash pay cheques through the Top of the Town brothel then linked to underworld boss Tony Mokbel.

    CONTRACTORS aligned with the CFMEU may be overcharging for their services by as much as 15 per cent.

    CFMEU officials encouraged developers to donate up to $10,000 towards a 1999 visit to Australia by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

    Mick Gatto jokes
    Mick Gatto jokes “Wave to Purana” (the police) as he discussed a project dispute with a developer outside a Carlton restaurant, it is claimed. Source: News Limited
    On December 18, 2012, Mr Zaf told two Construction Code Compliance Unit investigators that in the mid-1990s he gave Mr Setka – through his roofing metal manufacturing business – $6000-$8000 worth of Colorbond roof and bullnose curved verandas for a property the official was renovating.
    “He made sure we didn’t have problems with our trucks getting unloaded on major building sites on time and we weren’t involved in any of the crane stoppages and stuff like that back then.” Mr Zaf said.

    Mr Setka said on Wednesday night: “I purchased some roofing products from a business he was associated with almost 20 years ago at trade prices.

    “The claim there was some deal or agreement about any flow-on benefits is a blatant lie … If there is any substance to those allegations, police should have acted.”

    Mr Zaf claimed another senior CFMEU figure had a classic Ford Fairlane refurbished for his son’s 18th birthday in return for the promise of trouble-free worksites.

    Tony Mokbel being escorted by Greek police officers outside court in Athens, Greece in 2007.
    Top of the Town (below), then linked to underworld boss Tony Mokbel (above), is claimed to have cashed cheques for a union-linked standover man known as “Johnny the Greek”. Source: News Limited
    Top of the Town.
    Top of the Town. Source: News Limited
    When asked about Mr Zaf’s allegations, Fairwork Building and Construction agency director Nigel Hadgkiss said: “No comment”.

    Mr Zaf also told investigators Johnny the Greek threatened to murder him if he did not follow his orders.

    “Look, Johnny always carried a piece … He said ‘You do the wrong thing by me Andrew … and I’ll kill you’.”

    When Mr Zaf was directed to seek out Gatto for help in a project debt dispute, he said as they sat outside a Carlton restaurant Gatto joked “Wave to Purana (the police)”.

    At another restaurant meeting he told how he was introduced to slain gangland lawyer Mario Condello.

    “There was all the old fellows from the old school,” Mr Zaf said.

    Slain underworld lawyer Mario Condello allegedly suggested the way to solve one building dispute was to
    Slain underworld lawyer Mario Condello allegedly suggested the way to solve one building dispute was to “just go and just kill ‘em … shoot ‘em and get the money”. Source: News Limited
    “They would have all been in their 60s and 70s and they had the glasses and the chains and the rest … You went through this back side entrance, you went upstairs and there was just watermelon and cheese and little black shorts and some water on the table.

    “I’ll never forget Mario Condello’s words and that’s what scared me about the man. He said ‘Listen, let’s just go and just kill ’em. Let’s just shoot ’em and get the money”.

    Mr Zaf told the Herald Sun the industry needed an urgent clean-up.

    Police spokeswoman Cath Allen said they were aware of general allegations of corruption in the building and construction industry but were not prepared to discuss them.

    Government spokeswoman Kathryn McFarlane said: “As many of these matters are ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”


    It must be serious. Even Fairfax and the ABC is onto it.

  17. But it wasn’t exactly new news, was it. From the leftist Crikey in June 2006…

    The Victorian underworld, Labor and the CFMEU
    By Stephen Mayne

    We all know that Victoria has the toughest building unions in the country and Melbourne has been in the grips of a brutal underworld killing war for the past five years, but never before have the two been so comprehensively linked as over the past few days.

    The court case involving sacked Primelife CEO Ted Sent has featured underworld figure Mick Gatto giving evidence and there’s been a truckload of media reports about the $200,000-plus in cash that he pocketed from Primelife over the years. Gatto has explained how he keeps the peace on building sites, ensures they are closed shops for the CFMEU and even averted a death threat against Sent.

    Then we had The Age’s extraordinary story yesterday about the asbestos-ridden power station across the road from its Lonsdale Street offices which has involved everyone from Gatto, the CFMEU and now some colourful Russian characters. However, it was the first time a direct link has been made between the CFMEU and Gatto.

    Senior CFMEU organiser John Setka confirmed that he is “a family friend” of Matt Tomas, Gatto’s business partner in Elite Cranes. Setka’s fiancee Helen Bouzas did some environmental consulting on the power station site and also sat on a board with Tomas for ten weeks last year.

    Nigel Hadgkiss, the Federal Government’s deputy commissioner of the Australian Building Construction Commission, wrote in The Age that he now has “grave concerns about elements of organised penetrating the building industry”. He went on to say that police forces largely ignore the criminal behaviour because they view it as “industrial” and believe “it is their function to maintain the peace, not enforce the criminal law”.

    Hmmm, how much of this culture in Victoria occurs because the police believe the state government do not want the book thrown at the CFMEU, like the Cain government did in the 1980s when the BLF was deregistered. After all, the various divisions of the CFMEU, whether through donations or “other receipts”, gave the Victorian ALP the following amounts over the years:

    1998-99: $101,300

    1999-00: $53,235

    2000-01: $111,517

    2001-02: $112,255

    2002-03: $128,356

    2003-04: $201,891

    2004-05: $195,211

    Total: $903,765

    Average: $129,109

    Then again, given that Steve Bracks refuses to do anything about George Seitz, arguably the worst Labor branch stacker in history, why would he suddenly take the moral high ground with his benefactors at the CFMEU?


  18. Wrong. Irrelevant. And nothing to do with anything. A desperate attempt to shift the goalposts.

    But I’ll take it as confirmation that you acknowledge that it is almost impossible to trust the unions unless you are either afraid to fight against cronyism and corruption, or so ensconced in it that you go along with it.

    It basically shows you have no answers to the cronyism in Australian unionism.

    How can Bill Shorten fight this when he is one of them, a former union boss, albeit, hopefully, not one of the corrupt sort?

    Earlier you held up unionism and union membership as the be all and end all of the Australian workforce. Here we see that some of them are living like leeches on the backs of workers who are afraid to go against the flow and go on a mass walk out, not from their workplace during a strike, but from the union bosses who take them for fools.

    Let’s hope a few good men will see beyond these frauds and refuse to pay union dues until the bludgers at the top and in the middle are weeded out.

    Unions have their place, but need a reformation. A huge restructure and overhaul.

    I have been a card carrying union member in two nations, but I tore up my card the last time they threatened me and tried to bury my workplace with their stupidity, marxism and greed. Stuff them – at least until they make some changes at the top that filter through to the workplace for genuine workers.

    You should hear what the shop floor and grassroots unionists and none unionists in industry say here, behind closed doors, about the union bosses on £180,000 pa who bleed companies dry in the name of socialism and rebellion against progress, then strike on behalf of workers made redundant as they cripple companies with their demands in the middle of the economic downturn.

    On the ABC and the need for education reforms this week…

    LEIGH SALES: How much of a barrier or otherwise have teachers’ unions been in countries that have undertaken major reforms?

    AMANDA RIPLEY: A big barrier. I mean, this is one of the surprises, is that everywhere you go in the world, pretty much teachers’ unions are powerful, there are contracts in place that principals and school leaders complain about, there are real limits to the ability to dismiss a teacher for performance all over the world. So, you know, be that as it may, it is a challenge in every country.


    They’re not interested in real progress, or the workers’ welfare, only power and labor versus capital.

    As I say, unions have a place and are needed to ‘keep the bastards honest’, but there must be some changes and soon, because workers have had a gutful of being manipulated and made to look fools.

    So bury your head in the sand, Bones, and try to change the subject, but there are people out there who will eventually do something about what is clearly wrong when so many unions are being brought under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

  19. When your head’s buried that deeply in the sand there’s only one other place you can speak from.

    Have you nothing to say about the union troubles? You know, the CFMEU, the HSU, the AWU?

    Mind you you’re only imitating your union bosses when you try to change the subject to blame someone else for something other than your own union’s shortcomings.

    From the ABC interview on the union issue with Ged Kearney of the Australian Council of Trade Unions…

    LEIGH SALES: You bring up the HSU. Given what we’ve witnessed in recent times regarding the HSU, now with these latest revelations about the CFMEU, plus there’s a Victorian police inquiry into the AWU, wouldn’t a Royal commission be useful?

    GED KEARNEY: Well, I think you have to see a Royal commission or a Tony Abbott Royal commission into the broader union movement for what it is. Now, Tony Abbott, we know, does not like unions. He would like to see unions weakened. He doesn’t like workers having any power and he has really spent the first part of his government or his period of government sidling up with big business and basically showing – we even heard Eric Abetz today encouraging businesses to gang up together against workers (inaudible) …

    LEIGH SALES: But a Royal commission is at arm’s length from government.

    GED KEARNEY: But Tony Abbott will instigate that and he’s using these – these are – you know, you talked about three instances there. The union movement – I have 55, nearly 60 affiliates at the ACTU, I have two million members …

    LEIGH SALES: But we’re not talking about – sorry to interrupt, but we’re not talking about one union, we’re not talking about one person in a union, we’re talking about multiple cases that have come out across multiple years. I’m wondering why you wouldn’t see a Royal commission which is independent of government as a useful way to help you pursue your zero-tolerance policy.

    GED KEARNEY: Because I’m confident that the vast majority of the 10,000 or so delegates, organisers, workers in unions out there work damn hard every day for their members doing the very best that they can. I know that for a fact. My own union, the nurses’ union, we have 250,000 members, and I know I worked hard, I know that everybody works hard in that union for the best – for the betterment. It is ludicrous to use a broad brush and to say that we need an inquiry into the whole union movement. If there are allegations, they can be dealt with through the law and they have been successfully in the past and they can be successfully now.

    LEIGH SALES: But if we look at, say, the Royal commission that’s going on to the moment into child abuse, all of the organisations involved in that could make exactly the same argument you’ve made that most of the people involved in those organisations are good people and that there have been isolated cases or in some cases not so isolated cases that did require some sort of broader, independent, systemic inquiry. I’m just wondering what you’ve got to fear from that.

    GED KEARNEY: Mmm. I have nothing to fear from it and if indeed there is a Royal commission, I will take part in that without any hesitation of course. But we do know that the Abbott Government will use this as nothing but a political witch-hunt to weaken unions, his political enemies. This is a government absolutely bereft of any positive policies for workers. They have not demonstrated how they’re going to create jobs, they are not supporting manufacturing, they have actually taken away pay rises that unions have won for people in aged care and child care. All they seem to be doing is trying to denigrate unions and they will use a Royal commission to do nothing else than that.

    You see how she does the same thing you do? She switches the subject away from the failure within the unions to a hypothetical and conspiratorial ulterior motive by the PM, when it should be in the Unions’ interests to wheedle out the corruption and dismantle the framework which allowed it in the first place.

    In the same way you seek to hit out at the Church and Christians when the question is about the unions who are being shown to be corrupt and in need of serious investigation and reform.

    So there is an investigation into child abuse, and long overdue. But so is an investigation into union corruption.

    But the truth is, judging by your reluctance to engage in the conversation, you don’t give a monkey’s about the workers or fairness in the workplace, only about your precious union bosses who are making you look like a cowering, hat-tipping steward lackey as they relieve you of your union dues.

    Show some gumption man.

  20. Union corruption generally implies business corruption also, so when the Union officials take free supplies, money etc. in return for their influence – the money and supplies generally come from business.

  21. If you’re right, and I’m not saying you’re not, it’s all the more reason to investigate and renovate, don’t you think? The present exposure is very possibly just the tip of a vast iceberg. Little wonder the present hierarchy is reluctant to invite an independent inquiry.

  22. I would add that union corruption also implies political corruption.

    We’re talking about very powerful people politically, economically and socially. Reforms are sometimes painful and expose inadequacies and failures, but they can lead to a fresh means of providing equity. As it stands there is none.

  23. And, just to qualify my position, I am not suggesting the Unions be weakened as standard bearers for workers’ equity, nor disbanded, but cleaned up and reconfigured to reflect present values and a less one-sided political stance.

  24. Of course corruption has to be stamped out. It is union members money being stolen or conditions being bought off.

    The government will use this to attack all unions.

  25. “You should hear what the shop floor and grassroots unionists and none unionists in industry say here”

    For years the rank and file have been intimidated by union bosses. That’s all through blue collar industries. Just talk to to your mates – if you guys have any in construction, mining etc.

  26. btw Wazza. Are you still a Christian? Bones says he doesn’t purport to be a Christian. I assume that means he doesn’t consider himself a Christian. How about you? It would just be helpful to know in future discussions.

  27. I’d still identify as a Christian.

    I support investigation of corruption in the Union movement, equally I support investigation of it in the culture of Corporate business. Eg. Leighton Holdings, AWB, the Reserve Bank subsidiaries etc.

    Some of these groups paid significant kick-backs directly to Sadaam Hussein, so they should surely be investigated for security and corruption as much as any Union rep or asylum seeker.

  28. I would, in general, agree with wazza on this, but neither should be a witch hunt. Some of the Corporate excesses have been obscene and must take a huge amount of blame for the economic downturn, although three have been unsustainable welfare abuses also, so we are either on the cusp of major global changes in the way the economies are run, or about to go down the tube, and/or into a war footing. It starts in our own backyard.

    The government will use this to attack all unions.

    Maybe, but they sure brought it on themselves.

  29. Deunionization, Wage Inequality and the Decline of the Middle Class

    It’s no secret that wage inequality in this country has increased significantly, by more than 40 percent among men and by more than 50 percent among women, from 1973 to 2007. The middle class received the smallest share of the nation’s income since the data was first collected, according to Census data. In 2010, the middle 60 percent of all Americans accrued only 46 percent of the nation’s income, down from highs of approximately 53 percent in 1968.

    Union membership and middle class incomes appear to be highly correlated.

    Factually, from 1973 to 2007 private sector union membership declined 76 percent for men and 63 percent for women. A new study, reported in the August issue of the American Sociological Review, examines the relationship between the decline in union membership and the rise in wage inequality. More specifically the authors of the study, Bruce Western, a professor of sociology at Harvard University and Jake Rosenfeld, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington, decompose wage inequality, focusing on partitioning wage inequality due to the decline in private union membership.

    These studies, demonstrating the adverse effects of falling union membership, have important policy implications for mediating the decline of the middle class. Anti-union attitudes appear to have worked to reduce unionization but at the detriment of the middle class. It is certainly arguable that the middle class is the backbone of our society. Factors that lead to its decline can’t be good for the overall health and prosperity of our nation.


    Hmmmmm. Seems unions have more to do with prosperity than churches.

  30. That’s almost a convincing statistic until you find out it was put together by union reps and reproduced by the Centre for American Progress Fund, and left wing think tank for progressives.

    The reason I researched it came out of the lack of information, such as the comparisons and other data, vis a vis, how much of the share was now going to the working class, how much to the wealth classes, and how many middle class workers had entered the the higher earner’s bracket, or slipped into the low paid area, and factors such as how the economic downturn had influenced figures.

    The key indicators which should have been revealed are not the share of income but whether actual income had declined per head, or if the real wages in middle class wallets were diminishing, remaining stable or increasing.

    It could be that, in effect, there is no actual correlation between the two factors, by which I mean, leaving the unions may have had no bearing whatsoever on the drop in share experienced by the middle class. There could be other factors involved, some of which I have pointed to.

    The data is not conclusive.

  31. Not to mention that cities in the US are going bankrupt. Thanks to the unions of government workers – which of course includes teachers.

  32. Well, you know, Q, you could set up the same statistic only using the fall in sales of gobstoppers compared to decreasing middle class share of capital and you would conclude that gobstoppers were crucial to middle class security.

  33. btw, this thread became a discussion on unions….but your original post was really good.

    Did some volunteer work at an old folks home recently. The people who work there full-time are amazing.

  34. And it’s interesting that in my country there are so many homes for the aged that are run by Christian groups staffed with Christians, where profit isn’t the biggest thing.

    Probably shouldn’t have said that, because there’ll no doubt be a copy and paste about some home somewhere in the world where a Christian has done the wrong thing.

    Christians are often the leaders in other countries for care for the aged and mentally ill. The influence is way above the Christian population.

  35. Well, you know, Q, you could set up the same statistic only using the fall in sales of gobstoppers compared to decreasing middle class share of capital and you would conclude that gobstoppers were crucial to middle class security.

    Or CP missions compared to democracy and conclude that missions were crucial to democracy.

  36. Wazza, I think you need to read the article again.

    It must be tiring being someone who hates anything to do with evangelical Christianity or right-wing politics.

    People are growing weary of this attitude. Hey did you see the news about your friends at MSNBC? That ridiculously offensive comment about how right-wing people wouldn’t like a biracial family picture? Typical left wing propaganda. But funny at the end, because hundreds of rightwing people in biracial families sent in photos!

    The left just loves emotional attacks with no substance. Something about saying lies often enough….

    “missions were crucial to democracy.”

    Yep. Maybe you should read the article again slowly. That’s better than seeing some slightly positive article about Christian missionaries and raving that it can’t be right.

    Anyway, maybe since you claim to be a Christian you could do some reading this year about 19th century missionaries. So many inspiring, positive stories. Might change your outlook.

  37. What was particularly pathetic was the way the aged and child care unions disgraced themselves when the government declared war on low income earners and withdrew their promised wage rises.

    They just rolled over.

    Like to see that happen to me.

  38. Q,
    Did some volunteer work at an old folks home recently. The people who work there full-time are amazing.

    Indeed, and like you I was working with the Care industry recently and spent time in a Care Home which was entirely staffed by Christians, from the managers to the cleaners. Of course,I have met staff from other centres who were Muslim or from other religions (i.e., some are run by Muslim agencies, and of high standard), but there are many practicing Christians involved.

    The report from Woodberry is far more thorough, detailed and peer reviewed. You need to calm down and admit it was good work for once.

  39. You’d be surprised Q, I spent a year in a very Evangelical Christian Republican-voting area of the US. There was an article in the local mag interviewing bi-racial couples who all stated how hard it was to be accepted in society. And that was in the North!!

    This article says that 46% of Republican voters in Missisippi state that inter-racial marriage should be illegal. Not just that they dont approve – make it illegal.

  40. Steve, if it was such good work, do you agree with Woodberry’s conclusion in the paper that Pentecostal missions would not produce the same benefits?

  41. Or CP missions compared to democracy and conclude that missions were crucial to democracy.

    Funny thing is there is much more evidence of the effects of deunionisation on the work force than the CP article which is being trumpeted in every Christian blog.

    Aged care workers will have to buy some more TD Jakes and Joyce Meyer or a lottery ticket. They sure as hell aren’t getting any more money from this government which is the front of the IPA..

    Oh and…

    Understanding Australian Income Inequality: The Proper Role played by Globalisation, De-unionisation and the Terms of Trade

    The results for ‘Union’ are large and significantly negative as well as straightforward to interpret. It’s quite clear that de-unionisation has exacerbated income inequality. The result for the minimum wage varies across the different measures of income inequality. A higher real minimum wage lowers pre-tax income inequality. The impact on post-tax inequality is positive and significant, albeit at just the 10 per cent level. This may indicate that the progressivity of taxes is relatively more important for generating a more equitable income distribution than are increases in the minimum wage, at least for Australia. Unsurprisingly, the minimum wage has no impact on the income distribution for the more wealthy.


  42. Hang on, Bones, the care industry in Australia, as in UK is run by providers, not by government. It is up to the providers to comply with minimum wage standards. If the unions have lost membership it is because of their own practices. The government of the day has, or should have, nothing to do with union involvement in any work place, or with the way providers interact with unions.

    Secondly, it is highly probable that, because the unions so often in the past, insisted on closed shops and, from this position of power, intimidated employers into wage and safety standards, but, having lost credibility in recent years have lost workers who were disenchanted with their service, which has, in turn, led to a drop in standards because the workforce is no longer in a position to to negotiate their terms and conditions, either individually or collectively, without coming under pressure from those union stewards who are still active, even though it has been made legal for workers to negotiate terms with their employers.

    For instance, old school headbangers like yourself would be knocking on their door and calling me ‘scabs’ or graffiti spraying their front door, or sending around your bikie mates for a little ‘chat’.

    In other words, the unions themselves have most likely caused wages and standards to drop because they could not control their own leadership and membership and forgot that their mission was always for the workers, not for political power. They lost sight of their mandate. Your responses here are classic examples of the shortsightedness of union values.

    You’re not a shop steward are you?

  43. Gee you may as well withdraw your article cause you, like Tony abbott, don’t give a sh!t about aged care workers.

    In a major boost to aged care nurses and care workers, the Federal Government’s $3.7 billion Living Longer, Living Better aged care reform package was passed through both houses of parliament on June 26, ushering in historic changes to the sector.

    The new legislation will result in $1.2 billion in pay rises to flow through to the pay packets of Australia’s 350,000 aged care nurses and workers from today.


    So the previous evil government passed reforms to aged health and child care (2 lowest paid careers) but this was cancelled in Abbott’s war on workers and the lower class..

    But yeah it’s good to deny pay rises to aged care workers to despise unions.

    Great article. But don’t worry Tony will keep them as the lowest paid jobs just to keep you happy.

    For this reason, I think we should herald care and hospital workers, encourage them in their vocation, and show appreciation for the great work they do.

    They should be amongst the highest paid of workers.


    Unless they’re part of a union lol.

    What a derp!

    Guess they’ll have to buy a lotto ticket or tithe to prosper hey.

    I’m banking on the lotto.

  44. The $1.5 billion sounds good until you read the small print, which says it will be paid over five years. It was also subject to the Workforce Compact, which penalised Providers if they did not agree to enterprise agreements, in other words, inviting the involvement of union representatives in bargaining procedures, or they would not recieve workplace supplements.

    The main objections came from Catholic Health Australia and Aged and Community Services Australia, who argued that the bulk of the increases should be funded by the Government and not by Care Providers.

    A staunch unionist like yourself would not understand why it was wrong of the then government to push workers towards union membership as a matter of convenience rather than choice, but you can see why both Providers and the incoming Government might have objections. It was poor policy, which was more about looking good and promoting a labour/union pact than doing what is right.

    I stand by what I have said. I believe that care workers should be paid better than they are, but that is not a matter of politics or union involvement, but of supply. Care is an expensive business which relies on the generosity of the people who seek to have their relatives in care. The government does need to sow into it, I believe, but it is not the sole responsibility of government.

    The unions have had years on which to have made their mark and provided the security care workers deserve, but, instead, as we have seen in the very recent news, their bosses have ignored the workers and lined their own nests and secured the their siblings future over and above the interests of their members. They have let the care industry down badly. They have let Australia down badly.

    Why anyone would trust the unions in their present condition is beyond reason.

  45. “You’d be surprised Q, I spent a year in a very Evangelical Christian Republican-voting area of the US. There was an article in the local mag interviewing bi-racial couples who all stated how hard it was to be accepted in society. And that was in the North!!

    I’m sure in some places it’s hard to be accepted into society. So you were in a Republican state in the North?? Which one would that be?

    “This article says that 46% of Republican voters in Missisippi state that inter-racial marriage should be illegal. Not just that they dont approve – make it illegal.”

    Interestingly enough, a lot of the people who oppose inter-racial marriage are blacks. Black woman and men who married whites are criticised heavily mostly by their own black community.

    but, go to a liberal black church. It will be exclusively black -in most cases.Like Obamas old church pastored by the guy he threw under the bus.

    Then go to liberal white churches. They are full of middle class white people.

    Now go to the pentecostal and charismatic churches. Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer meetings, the HIllsong churches – people of all races.

    Pentecostal/charismatic churches are the most racially diverse. Closest thing to heaven on earth.

    Liberal church people talk a lot. The left-wing talks a lot. But go to the pentecostal churches and that’s where you see blacks, whites and Asians together.

    Same with Australia. Want to see a church with different races? Go to Hillsong or a church like that.

    Find a church full of the kind of people who like attacking anything to do with Christianity and instead of talking about the Bible, they’d rather argue politics – and I’ll show you a bunch of white middle class people.

    Same with the reformed crowd. Middle class white people who love intellectual discussions.
    Give me a megachurch full of whites, blacks, Asians, Islanders anyway.

  46. Abbott’s mouthpiece has spoken.

    And blatantly says that aged care workers were punished because of their union.

    The war on unions and workers is very real.

    Good on the Catholics for wanting the money, acknowledging their workers were underpaid and refusing to do anything about it. In fact whinging for having to pay them more.

    Remove the article. You embarrass yourself by supporting this government’s war on the workers.

  47. ‘War on the workers’

    What tosh! Self-pitying turgid tripe.

    Unless you consider the actions of the CFMEU, AWU and HSU detrimental to the workers welfare. Now that is a war on their own members as they live it up on members’ dues. You think these are trustworthy unions where workers’ dues would be well utilised and honestly handled? If you do you are in cloud-cuckoo land.

    Even the ABC, a socialist-leaning organisation that even Bob Hawke criticised for being too far left, points this out.

    LEIGH SALES: You bring up the HSU. Given what we’ve witnessed in recent times regarding the HSU, now with these latest revelations about the CFMEU, plus there’s a Victorian police inquiry into the AWU, wouldn’t a Royal commission be useful?

    You realise, Bones, that you are arguing for the excesses of the CFMEU, AWU and HSU when you continue to blame Abbott, Abbott, Abbott for Labour Party cronyism and manipulation of their seeming generosity by offering a long term increase but with conditions attached.

    Why not just give the workers a pay rise with no conditions? Why put pressure on employers to do it the Labour way or be penalised? That’s bullying, and more likely why Catholic Health backed off.

    If it was just one union, or a handful of people from a union branch you could say it was localised, but here we have three unions under investigation since Gillard diminished the independent power to sanction wrongdoing. The dog returns to its vomit.

    The ultra-left rag Crikey gets in on the act as far back as 2011.

    Fears are growing in labour movement circles that the NSW police probe into Craig Thomson could spell the end for his former union, as the house of cards that has let well-paid officials sup for decades from their members’ teat collapses.

    Yesterday, Health Services Union national secretary Kathy Jackson announced that she would refer allegations of criminality inside the union to the NSW Police. But union insiders say the likely upshot of the probe, overseen by tenacious former National Crime Authority investigator and chief commissioner Andrew Scipione, is that the pockets of all current and former HSU officials — and not just Thomson — will be turned inside out.

    Scipione won’t need to look far. Crikey readers will recall that Jackson’s ex-husband, factional handmaiden and former HSU state secretary Jeff Jackson was accused of an eerily similar misuse of members’ funds at brothels and gastro pubs like The Lincoln in Carlton in a 2009 Pitcher Partners investigation.

    Oh, wait a minute the police may have bungled the charges against Thomson, so much so that the magistrate and even his defence council admit to his using HSU members funds, but he may get off because prosecutors worded the charges incorrectly. Well, well. Do police have unions, too? Got to look after the bruvvers!

    If I believed in luck I’d say Thomson’s a very lucky boy. Defended and protected by Gillard, Rudd and the Labour caucus to the tune of thousands of dollars of tax-payers’ money, and now about to potentially be let off on a technicality because police made a very basic blunder.

    Nevertheless, his case helped expose the HSU issues you are presently defending, Bones. What possible reason would a care worker or care provider have to trust the HSU?

    As I have said, I am for unions, and for workers’ rights, but as it stands, there needs to be a major overhaul of union activity and their too close association with the Labour Party and the Greens.

    And we haven’t even had a look at the actions of the Australian unions during WW2 yet, even though you’re still living there.

  48. Bahaha. But it’s the unions. Blame the unions. It’s good that the aged care workers didn’t get their payrise. Blah blah blah.

    I don’t know wtf you’re smoking or drinking but I want some. It just goes to show how far from reality Christians are.

    Yes I see your Utopian existence of a world without unions.

    Inside The Filthy Dorms Where Workers Who Make Apple’s New IPhone 5C Must Sleep

    Chinese workers are forced to work 12-hour days, mostly standing, to assemble Apple’s cheap new iPhone, the iPhone 5C, according to a new
    report from China Labour Watch, the workers’ rights watchdog.

    The report was created by under cover workers at Jabil Circuit in Wuxi, China. They found workers who put in 11-hour shifts with only 30 minute breaks to eat. Much of that break time was taken up by standing in security lines, so staff had only 5 minutes to eat.

    The workers, who are paid around $US245 a month, live in crowded, dirty dorms. As the factory runs 24 hours a day, they sleep in shifts, up to eight to a room. The conditions are similar to those endured by workers putting together the new iPhone 5S, which is expected to be unveiled on Sept. 10.


    Pfffft. Aged care workers should be grovelling that they get $22 an hour.

    Of course we don’t need unions. That’s what Abbott wants to remove. That’s his war with the overpaid workers of our country who big business and mining magnates have to eat into their profits to pay for.

    Employers would naturally just offer workers better conditions and pay out of the kindness of their hearts. Or maybe employees will all tithe and money will rain down from heaven.

    Meanwhile in the real world….

  49. I trump your evil union story with an evil Christian story.

    Abusers visited Salvation Army boys home at night: inquiry

    BOYS living at a Salvation Army children’s home in Sydney were sent to stay with adults and forced to have sex, or were sexually abused by unknown men who broke into their dormitories at night, an inquiry has been told.

    In a written statement read to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse today, one such victim described how this abuse took place at the Bexley boys’ home run by Salvation Army officer Captain Lawrence Wilson.

    “He physically raped me in his office within a few months of being there and it happened several more times,” the man, who cannot be named, alleged in his statement.

    “You would be sent out to stay with other people and they would do it to you or there were the prowlers, men who allegedly broke into the place at night and tampered with the boys.

    “Even now I still can’t sleep. There you would get visited in the night, so you were scared, you couldn’t fall asleep.

    “Wilson got me out of bed at night times. Sometimes it was strangers who came up the fire escape … old men came in at night. There was no supervision,” he said.

    A NSW Police detective inspector, Rick John Cunningham, said he had investigated allegations from other alleged victims at the home who also said Wilson sent them to adults’ houses to have sex.

    “About a month after at the home (one victim) was called to Captain Wilson’s office where he met a woman dressed in a Salvation Army uniform and her husband,” Detective Inspector Cunningham told the commission.

    “(The victim) was taken to their home where both the woman and the man sexually abused him.

    “When he returned to Bexley Home (the victim) attempted to tell Captain Wilson what had happened but Captain Wilson said ‘These are good people I send you out to’ and caned him about 17 times.”

    The same boy was also allegedly sent to stay with other adults and sexually abused, the commission heard.

    Wilson was later charged with several offences, including indecent assault and buggery, relating to five alleged victims, the commission heard, but was found not guilty in 2000.

    He died in 2008.


  50. So where did I say we don’t need unions, Bones? Anywhere? No.

    And your response to questions over the trustworthiness of three Australian unions under investigation is a completely unrelated report of child abuse. I say throw abusers into prison regardless of their faith. And what about unionists who abuse their members?

    You’re displaying signs of lunacy.

  51. I say that the unions need to sort out their internal issues by wheedling out the corruption, throwing out stand-over agents, removing the old-school Marxist unionists who have an alternative agenda to the original union ideals, rethink their mandate in the light of being in the 21st century, reshape their mission to dragging itself into the real world, away from overly politically socialist idealism.

    They need to start doing great things for the workers, not as a power base for their political aims as a wing, and, more recently, overseer, of the Labour party, but as an agency which is genuinely interested in keeping Australian workers in jobs with decent pay and conditions.

    But, along with this, swallowing their pride and creating an initiative which leads to better relations with Government, no matter which side of politics, and employers, businesses and service organisations.

    So, yes, I see the merit and importance of unions, but not in their current form. They need reformation.

    There are opportunities for unions to make important contributions to society and work with employers to provide better equity for the workforce.

    But the kind of union practices Bones encourages are the very things which are destroying them and costing them members. They are the negatives which put workers off involvement.

    When unions wake up to this they can reconfigure their operations and become a force once again, but a force for good, not for control, manipulation or political advantage.

    That is my opinion.

    Finally, it may be that, in their current shape, the unions in Australia are not the answer for care workers.

    The HSU has already let them down on so many levels, which Bones seems to be in denial about.

    It may be that the immediate solution lies, not with unions, but with the workers themselves in discussions with employers. That is how unions began in the first place. Workers organised themselves. Maybe a new initiative needs to be taken by workers with the courage and intelligence to bring about genuine apolitical change.

    Ironically, Bones quotes conditions in China, a communist state run by a totalitarian government, which sucks on the teat of money-grabbing western companies who use their workforce as slave labour, and yet, still offer better wages and conditions in the disgusting sweat shops than the socialist regime would give them, promoting the same kind of socialism the left factions of the Australian Labour Movement want to steer Australia into as a puppet nation under China or Russia.

    But why do these self-interested, financially mercenary US companies go off-shore? Because it has been made too expensive to employ union run workplaces in the west. The unions themselves gave the excuse, albeit inexcusable by those companies, by making so many unsustainable demands they threatened their viability and very existence.

    Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere for everyone.

  52. So far I have quoted mostly from left wing commentary in the media, and, in the same vein, I found this from Peter Harcher in the Canberra Times, certainly not known for supporting Abbott, conservatives, or anything but left to centrist views, who sums it up pretty well.

    You need to read this, Bones. It will help you.

    The grim news this week of systematic thuggery and criminality on building sites confirms three facts of life in Australia.

    First, that the quarter-trillion-dollar-a-year construction industry has returned to business as usual a decade after the Cole royal commission found an “urgent need for structural and cultural reform”.

    Second, that Labor has unlearnt everything it used to know about being a broad political party and has retreated to being a narrow sectional one. Labor under Bill Shorten is defending the indefensible in the construction industry in an effort to protect malfeasance in the construction union.

    Third, that the Coalition is prepared to tackle the problem in the building sector, but that deep in its genes it is determined to wage a much bigger confrontation with the union movement.

    It begins with the building industry. The Abbott government will reconstitute the extraordinary body that the Howard government created to attack criminality in the industry, the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

    Labor went to the elections of 2007 and 2010 supporting the ABCC, recognising that it was doing important work to improve productivity and lawfulness. But it was cut short seven years into its campaign to clean up the sector.

    When the construction union asked then prime minister Julia Gillard to abolish the ABCC, she obliged, “to protect her own arse”, as one of her cabinet ministers put it. The unions were Gillard’s internal power base against Kevin Rudd.

    Today Labor and the Greens, both recipients of donations from the construction union, are combining in the Senate to block the return of the ABCC. They are using unconventional tactics, with multiple referrals to various Senate committees, to delay a vote on the government’s bill.

    What’s wrong with Labor’s position? It says that, if there are allegations of criminality in the building industry, police should investigate in the normal course of enforcing the law. There’s no need for a special body or a royal commission. This seems reasonable, but it is, in fact, a pretext for preserving the status quo.

    How? The police and other enforcement authorities are notoriously reluctant to pursue investigations into the building industry. The ABCC commissioner from 2005 to 2010, John Lloyd, now the Red Tape Commissioner for the Victorian government, explained:

    “Traditionally there’s been a shrug of the shoulders” among the enforcement authorities. “The attitude is, ‘that’s the way the industry is, it’s a tough industry, and we don’t want to get involved’.

    “And people in the industry don’t want to talk. There’s a code of silence. If you’re seen to be co-operating, you are subject to reprisals against your business or against yourself.”

    He knows. The ABCC under Lloyd brought more than 90 civil cases for breaches of industrial law, and it enjoyed a success rate in the courts of 85 per cent. But it also referred to the police and other enforcement authorities 39 cases of suspected criminal conduct. Lloyd is today aware of none that was pursued.

    The ABCC might have been able to follow up and jog the police into action, but its premature demise means that it didn’t get the chance.

    Labor and the Greens can protect the construction union, the CFMEU, only until July 1, when the new senators take their seats. Abbott is very likely to prevail in the new Senate. The new ABCC will then be empowered to clean up the industry.

    It will be commissioned to police the unions but also the employers – for every union official taking a payoff there is a company making a payoff. Collusion is at the heart of the problem.

    At the same time, the Abbott government will have ready a royal commission into corruption in the union movement.

    This is where the horizon broadens dramatically, from one sector to all sectors; where the Coalition’s deep DNA asserts itself, and where the big confrontation looms.

    This was an opportunity created by the conduct of some of the unions and their officials and Labor itself. Three major stories of union corruption ran for most of Labor’s term in office. One was the misuse of union funds by then Labor MP Craig Thomson when he was an official at the Health Services Union. Another was the flagrant corruption and greed of Michael Williamson when he was an official at the HSU and simultaneously national president of the Labor Party. Third was the revisiting of the slush fund and misappropriation of money by Bruce Wilson when he was an official of the Australian Workers Union and boyfriend of Gillard.

    In opposition, Abbott capitalised on these union scandals to promise a judicial review of the misuse of union funds, if elected. He was elected. This judicial review is to be a royal commission, planned to be announced in the next few weeks.

    Public opinion has already been prepared, largely by the corrupt union officials and the publicity their cases received over the past five years. “When you say ‘unions’ to focus groups, they think ‘workers’,” says a Coalition strategist with access to the party’s research. “When you say ‘union officials’ to focus groups, they think ‘cheats, grubs and corruption’. That’s why we always say ‘union officials’ – it’s a very pejorative term. The public is with us.”

    But the Abbott government wants to wait a few weeks more before announcing the royal commission. Why? Because every day’s news is bringing the problem home to the public.

    “Before you give the punters a solution, they have to understand there’s a problem,” says the strategist. “The more attention on this in public, the more we’re seen to be responding to a problem, not running an ideological exercise.”

    The problem is certainly real, especially in the construction sector. Lloyd says that in the life of the ABCC, “the industry’s conduct improved, although I don’t think the culture did, and now my impression is that the conduct has deteriorated again. I’m surprised to see that bikie gangs appear to be entrenched now, from the news reports.”

    A former royal commissioner into the NSW construction sector in the early 1990s, Roger Gyles, seems to agree: “The sorts of problems that I saw, that [Royal Commissioner Terence] Cole saw, are not only re-occurring but apparently may be at a more serious level with the involvement of bikies,” he told The Australian this week. “The problem is there seems to be no effective action by anybody.” And the industry is vastly bigger now. Since the first incarnation of the ABCC in 2005, the annual value of construction sector turnover, excluding housing, has grown fivefold to $262 billion in 2013-14, IBIS World says.

    But while the Abbott government will seek to address real problems, its larger response through a royal commission and other measures is also deeply ideological.

    The royal commission’s terms of reference will be wide. It will be mandated to examine not just the unions that have drawn recent publicity for their corrupt practices, the HSU and the CFMEU in recent years and the AWU in the Wilson era, but the entire union movement.

    And the government will ask it to look at corruption widely defined, including misuse of members’ funds. The government has a shortlist of candidates to conduct the royal commission. The main criterion is that it’s a “kick-arse commissioner”, according to a person involved in the decision.

    The Abbott government hopes and trusts the royal commission will set off a three-year internecine war pitting union against union. “It’ll be every union for itself,” says a strategist. “There’s nothing better than that.”

    The intention is to allow the union movement to damage itself. One result would be to weaken the institutional basis of the Labor Party.

    The Abbott government has learnt from the mistake of the Howard government. It plans to carefully fillet the workplace to separate workers’ pay and conditions from the unions. The workers are to be unaffected. The target is the union organisations. Abbott, inoculating himself against the inevitable Labor accusation that he wants to attack workers’ pay, this week repeated his pledge that he wants Australian workers to be “the best paid workers in the world”. On most comparisons, they already are.

    In the meantime, the government will have the Productivity Commission reviewing the workplace system and producing recommendations for reforms.

    These recommendations could very well affect workers’ pay and conditions, but Abbott has promised that he will take to the next election any changes that he might propose to workplaces and working conditions.

    So it’s a two-term process. First, attack the unity and the power of the unions. Second, consider changes to the workplace.

    And while the second term is still a long way off, the ultimate aim of the government was set out in a landmark speech this week by Abbott’s Industrial Relations Minister, Eric Abetz:
    “We are still yet to complete the process identified by Gerard Henderson,” head of the Sydney Institute and former Herald columnist, “in 1983 of transforming the award system from a prescriptive means of regulating the workforce to that of a simple safety net above which economic reality can prevail”.

    Abbott’s is not the first government to propose this goal. Paul Keating set out his aim for a system that puts “primary emphasis on bargaining at the workplace level within a framework of minimum standards provided by arbitral tribunals. It is a model under which … awards … would be there only as a safety net.

    “Over time, the safety net would inevitably become simpler,” Keating said. “We would have fewer awards, with fewer clauses.”

    Abetz embraced the Keating vision: “To this end I am on a unity ticket with Mr Keating.”
    The construction industry needs to be cleaned up, but we now see the Abbott vision extends far beyond.

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