And it get worse. Much worse. Shorten and the unions would have to be the most grubby and the most hypocritical of all Australian institutions.
An extract from Grace Collier’s column in today’s Oz. Collier, it should be pointed out that as well as writing a regular column for the Oz is an expert in IR and comes from a union background as an organiser with the Australian Services Union and the Storeman and Packers union, so she’s across the issue…
“….As you would all be aware, the decision to adjust Sunday penalty rates from double time down to time-and-a-half was made recently by a tribunal of five within the Fair Work Commission. The commission was legally compelled to review penalty rates by Labor when the party was last in power.
Labor also gave the commission, for the first time in history, the power to cut penalty rates. In fact, Shorten moved a special amendment to the legislation that made cuts to penalty rates possible. The five commissioners who made the decision were all appointed by Labor. Three of them were appointed by Shorten.
So, to sum up, a Labor initiative, aided by a special Labor amendment, run by a panel of Labor appointees, with the majority of those appointees, handpicked by Shorten, has led to a decision that gives Labor the opportunity to wage a massive Work Choices-style campaign against the government.
What an astonishing set of circumstances and how convenient for Labor.
Does anyone smell a rat?
The penalty rates at the centre of this fight are earned by workers who are mostly looked after by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. On its website, the SDA claims to be the “second largest trade union in Australia, with over 200,000 members”.
The SDA covers workers in the pharmacy, fast food and retail sectors and its EBAs are negotiated with the largest employers in the country, covering most workers in the various sectors. The SDA has almost 50 EBAs listed on its website. Not one of these EBAs has Sunday rates at double time.
Three have no weekend penalties. Sunday rates mostly range from time-and-a-half to ordinary time. The base rates of pay do not appear high enough to compensate for the loss of penalties. It is hard to see how these EBAs would pass the “better off overall” test.
Many of the EBAs contain clauses requiring the employer to push workers into the union. Workers have been denied a choice of superannuation fund and forced into the union fund. I am at a loss to explain how these agreements were approved by the Fair Work Commission.
Remember folks, this is what Shorten says Labor is born to fight for: double time on Sundays, something that has already been traded away in a swath of dirty deals.
Our industrial relations system is set up to protect workers from unscrupulous employers. It is not set up to protect workers from unscrupulous unions. The design of our system doesn’t even recognise that unions can behave in unscrupulous ways to the detriment of employees. Unions are accorded the moral high ground, always. If they give something the tick, everyone accepts the workers will be OK. So when a union sells out the workers, the system fails to stop them.
The government must hold an inquiry into all EBAs made by the SDA, and reform the system so it protects workers from dodgy unions.
In the meantime, Shorten should apologise to the community for his disgraceful hypocrisy and reject money from the SDA, Labor’s biggest funder.
For SDA members, double time on Sundays was traded away long ago, and the money that should have gone to them in wages has gone instead into the union, and then on to Labor….” Workers Dudded By ALP Strategy