This is some more background on McManus, the Unions and Labor by David Crowe at The Australian. It is very instructive.
I get the suspicion the references in the second last paragraph about the banking industry and “..forcing the big four to divest their funds management or financial advice arms..” more about tilling the soil and creating an environment for the unions to move in and become major players in the sector as they’ve done in the superannuation sector. They can’t survive with union membership of around 15% or less in the private sector so they have to diversify to fund the cause. What better way than too have your political wing gift you with unlimited access to the honey pot.
“….Bill Shorten responded wisely yesterday to the imperious claim from the nation’s most powerful union leader, Sally McManus, that she could choose what laws to obey. While it took a few hours for his response to emerge, Shorten knew the danger in endorsing her comments.
The wider reaction was also instructive. The gut reaction from union supporters, Labor advisers and some Labor MPs was to back the ACTU national secretary in reserving the power to break the law. Her strident message was like a clarion call to Labor’s true believers.
“I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and the law is right,’’ McManus said on ABC’s 7.30 program. “But when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”
The message to voters was that the ACTU believed it was above the law. McManus clarified her remarks yesterday to put more emphasis on reforming the law rather than breaking it, but her initial argument revealed an arrogance among union leaders.
While Shorten spoke from the head, the Labor rank and file bellowed from the heart. Union supporters and some Labor MPs likened their cause to the civil rights battle for racial equality in the US in the 1960s, pompously equating McManus with Martin Luther King and his belief in civil disobedience. Others drew parallels with Nelson Mandela.
The sanctimony was breathtaking but revealing. Labor and the unions are emboldened in their challenge to the status quo and may not see the law as a barrier to their campaigns. But they are sending a dangerous message to voters.
The union movement’s strength in the workplace and influence at the ballot box comes from the work of thousands of officials and volunteers. Their success will not last if workers and voters see them as agents for a movement that flouts the law.
McManus’s supporters struggled by drawing parallels between her willingness to break the law and journalists who defy court orders to reveal their sources.
This is nothing like the offences alleged against the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, which has 110 officials before the courts or the Fair Work Commission. Out of 56 matters before the courts, 23 relate to coercion.
On the banking industry, Labor is starting to talk openly of forcing the big four to divest their funds management or financial advice arms. While bank-bashing is routine in politics, imposing a restructure on the sector is a drastic step. An assistant Treasury spokesman, Matt Thistlethwaite, did not rule out the idea this week while deputy Senate whip Sam Dastyari said he was “predisposed” to breaking up the big four. Labor in government supported the “four pillars policy” and praised the strength of the banks; it sends a very different message today.