To say the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is creating a straw man argument to justify holding hostage the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), would be giving straw men from all walks of ideology a bad name. A few irresponsible MUA leaders have suspended reality by blaming VICT for not hiring a causal employee and failing to acknowledge it is a Federal law that bars VICT from doing so. This is not a straw man, I’m not sure if this is even misdirection, its pure anger just for the sake of being angry.
Two weeks ago MUA picketers began holding hostage over $100 million dollars worth of perishable and non-perishable goods at the VICT Melbourne port over a decision not to hire a casual worker with a criminal conviction. This alone could have brought up a productive debate about integrating formerly convicted criminals back into society as independent and productive members. But that’s not what we get to discuss two weeks on as the picket still ensues.
The kicker is, this issue isn’t even a VICT policy. It’s a Federal Law that prohibits VICT from hiring anyone with a criminal record working in a federally restricted area.
The end result is the MUA blaming a company for following federal law by holding hostage over $100 million dollars’ worth of goods from small businesses and families in need.
What this shows is the threat unions have on a civil society. The way unions are currently structured under federal law gives them an inordinate amount of power without providing any value to paying members. Each union dock worker has been taken for a ride by the MUA all to prove some odd political point. Which I can only assume is to ignore federal law?
Unions have potential to offer value by showing they have their members best interest in mind. It could be to promote certain workplace amenities, or to encourage changes to benefits showcasing value members have as opposed to other untrained competitors, etc etc. However, todays massive unions are no longer providing this service.
The port protest coupled with The Streets boycott should show Australians, and union members it’s not about you, it’s not about your pay, it’s not about your safety. It is about ensuring union bosses have a job tomorrow and radical politics trumps members prosperity. Just take this statement from Sally McManus, the secretary of the Australia Council of Trade Unions (ACTU): “The system is broken and we need to give power to working people and protect their basic rights.” equating Streets employees average $105,000 salary with that of a “basic right.”
Unions are engaged in a dangerous game of “Brinkmanship” pushing employers to the edge of bankruptcy whilst using members as pawns in their political game of chess. A great example is the National Union Workers, too little too late deal with TasAsia Dairy Group in Tasmania, pushing pay to the limit until fears of being sold and out of work come crashing in.
Again, unions could offer value and in a voluntary market would exist by advocating for the interest of paying members. The MUA and the ACTU show this is not reality today. Australian union members should take a good hard look at exactly what they are paying for in union dues. What are paying members getting in return other than politically charged battles and radical proclamations?
Considering the U.S.A’s recent tax reform, it would be in the Australian workers best interest to begin a discussion about Industrial Relations reform. Getting busy body government and, until they improve, unions off the backs of the workers and entrepreneurs who are the innocent bystanders in this anger MUA has stoked up.
After all, we’re all in this together!