Gillard and the union’s grasp

Julia Gillard is staying staunch, but then she knows what many in the media seem to be missing…that Rudd won’t take over to watch Labor get gutted like a trout…he will wait and let Gillard take the blame.

The bravest woman in Australia is Julia Gillard. She continues to defend her government staunchly and, as her troops falter and bicker around her, and the media exhibits an obsessional, monumental fixation with possible challenges to her leadership, she continues to get on with the job, focused on the core mission of her leadership – protecting and projecting union power.

There is now even a sanctimonious media chorus calling for Gillard to step aside, as if the federal Labor caucus has the option of telling the electorate: ”We’ve just knifed our leader and installed the leader we had previously knifed because he has better poll numbers. So vote for us because now we are competent and credible.”

Disaster. Voters do not like to be treated with contempt. Even if this desperation saved a few skins in Queensland, it would guarantee electoral disasters elsewhere. The poll numbers for Kevin Rudd the exile and martyr are one thing, but they will not simply translate to similar support for Rudd the recycled leader. Especially as minister after minister resigned rather than serve under him.

Why would Rudd want to be eviscerated in an election he cannot save for the sake of a few more months as prime minister?   

So while Gillard remains there she is busy ramming through union supporting bills.

Underlying the Prime Minister’s determination to use power while she can, on Wednesday she was in the Parliament expressing her determination to prop up General Motors Holden, which has so far received almost $2 billion in government subsidies: ”Yes, this government will support jobs in car making! Yes, we will continue the co-investments we have agreed to with Holden. Yes, we will do everything we can to resist the opposition’s plan to rip half a billion dollars away from that industry support and cost 2000 hardworking Australians their jobs … So let me be very clear that we will never endorse the reckless plan to see those thousands of Australians thrown on the unemployment scrap heap.”

She intends to protect the decision made by Holden management in 2011, despite the company’s precarious financial health, to sign an enterprise bargaining agreement giving workers a 10 per cent pay increase over three years, and set up an onerous redundancy regime – and even give the unions a say in running the company. Not surprisingly, Holden is no longer competitive and cannot survive without another handout.

Gillard’s commitment to sustaining Holden’s profligacy and union militancy is one of many, many deals she has done for her union powerbase. Her work goes on. This week the government will push amendments to the Fair Work Australia legislation to expand the rights of union officials to recruit at workplaces, and extend the reach of the compulsory arbitration process.

What the new Fair Work amendments will not do is improve the corporate governance of unions, a reform proposed by the Fair Work review panel and supported by business. But the changes were opposed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, so they were simply dropped.

Everyone knows who calls the shots in the Gillard government. This is why it is going to be destroyed by an electorate in which 87 per cent of private sector workers are not union members.

A pity John Key and Steven Joyce can’t see the same situation exists here in NZ…instead they prefer to leave draconian anti-employer labour laws in place for fear of starting a union war.

Under Gillard, even bills that do not appear to be about extending union power, such as this week’s amendments to the Aged Care Act, are really moves to extend union power. The government is offering $1.2 billion to increase salaries for aged care workers – but there are always union strings attached. To access this funding it will be almost impossible to negotiate an enterprise bargaining agreement without a union being a party. The union beneficiary here is the corrupt Health Services Union, which will be getting an indirect billion-dollar handout to fund a recruiting drive and gain access to non-union workplaces.

It goes on and on. The bills being rammed through the Senate by Labor and the Greens this week are the tail ends of a massive shift in power to the unions, which has resulted in a marked up-tick in union militancy.

Union corruption is going to haunt Gillard, the Labor brand, and the Greens in the coming months. And let us not forget that Victoria Police are continuing an investigation, and issuing search warrants, into money laundering by former officials of the Australian Workers Union at a time when Gillard was providing legal advice to people who were union officials then and are under police investigation now.

Union corruption exists in New Zealand. The Meat workers union refuses to supply full accounts hiding millions in fees in subsidiary branches and “Shed Funds”. The Maritime Union hasn’t filed their latest accounts. Unite Union is running a campaign against McDonalds claiming irregular accounting practices when they have IRD charges hanging over their head because the union bosses haven’t paid PAYE or Kiwisaver contributions, let alone the fact they haven’t filed accounts for more than 4 years. The EPMU burned $6 million of members funds and have written up the weakest excuse possible for torching the funds. Many other unions are in breach of the law and requirements to file annual accounts.

The very same problems that are contributing to Gillard’s defeat exist in New Zealand…I just wonder which union will be our HSU or AWU scandal.


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