Uh oh, they’re back …

Click for high resolution image
Click for high resolution image

You’ve got to love Alan Moir. Apart from him giving us permission to publish this image in high resolution format (instead of pinching it from the web like we usually do, thanks Alan) his cartoons always hit the mark in the most painful way for the target and illustrate better than most the truism of a picture painting a thousand words.

The Sydney Morning Herald on Friday 21 February announced “Major review of industrial relations laws planned” on its front page. Well, what a shock.

We knew that the Prime Minister couldn’t keep his hands off it much longer. What a pity, as Shaun Micallef says, that the Government can’t be like the Opposition, and have no ideology.
 
More of a pity that they can’t leave their hatreds and antagonisms to the side and get on with proper decision-making. Undermine Gonski and take money from public schooling, pander to the tobacco, food and alcohol lobbies, sack the Climate Commission, review school curricula, erode Medicare, wind back the National Disability Insurance Scheme? No worries, all these things end up on a to-do list.
 
At the top of the list will always be nailing unions and reducing the rights of employees at work. 
 
It has been an awful couple of months for unions. For a start, investigative reporting by the Herald exposed relationships between organised crime and some officials of the CFMEU. The confusing headline linked unions and gangsters at Barangaroo and clearly many of us were concerned that was a bit of a rude way to talk about that nice Mr Packer doing the right thing by the economy by fleecing fat punters from other countries. But no, it was a couple of incidental and low level officials in the CFMEU and bikie gangs. Officials already gone from the union.
 
And then, the bloke we always knew to be a crook, liar and low life, Craig Thomson, was convicted of fraud. Following the President of his union Michael Williamson, who confessed to a variety of criminal activities, fraud and everything else, also at the expense of the Health Services Union. These two blokes really are traitors to the principles of unionism and their actions make us all suffer.
 
Employees are entitled to join a union (especially a respectful and polite one like us) so there is someone to go to for advice and assistance in times of trouble and someone to provide some expertise and advice. And it’s always nice that you don’t have to argue about your own employment conditions with your employer - after all, employing people is a much more powerful position than being an employee. Nothing stops your employer having a phalanx of lawyers and helpers to advise.
 
The Royal Commission will do nothing more than put the boot into unions for a long, long time when a proper police investigation would be better targeted at those known to be involved in crime and with a quicker result. Jail the crooks, the overwhelming majority of unions and union officials have nothing to hide.
WorkChoices was one of the reasons for the demise of John Howard - only the second Prime Minister in Australian history to not just lose government, but to lose his own seat in doing so. 
 
While industrial relations law and practices oscillate between being more favourable to employers for some time and then back with a bit more balance towards employees, and vice versa, everyone recognised that WorkChoices would mean the loss of their right to bargain through a union, the end of awards covering everyone and the introduction of individual contracts when nothing was sacred, nothing was safe and everything was up for grabs.
 
Let’s see what happens in this review. 
 
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