return to letters list

My letter published below only touches on the problem of the increasing exercise of union power under the Gillard government. Strong unions such as the CFMEU are now operating on the basis that this government will not take the action needed to deal with union thuggery and nor will the Fair Work tribunal. In fact, the latter’s only “power” in times of ongoing conflict is to act as a mediator and, in the Grocon case, to make the pathetic recommendation that illegal action by the CFMEU should be suspended for a fortnight!

In these circumstances , employers are forced to resort to the common law to protect their property and right to develop it. But while Supreme Courts in Victoria and NSW have responded, unions such as the CFMEU can ignore the threat of being fined for illegal activity because they have large assets (reportedly $50 mn in that case), fines are usually small, and they can not only draw on the income from such assets to pay but can extract replacement funds by threats to other businesses of disruptive action. Remember too that union incomes are tax exempt!

What is slightly encouraging is that in Victoria the Premier is prepared to support police action (but without actually saying it is necessary) and the police leadership seems prepared to be more active than their pathetic effort in handling the waterfront dispute. But the rest, including the Federal Coalition, seem limited to making a call to observe the law, which is all Minister Shorten can muster

Des Moore

Union action needed
(letter published in The Australian, 1 September 2012.)
[square bracketed sections deleted by editor]

You call for urgent debate on industrial relations reform (“Time to debate workplace laws”, 30/8). The time for debate is over. Increasing union thuggery, and [the now widespread] recognition that the Fair Work arrangements are not sustainable, demand action.

Indeed, you do call for reform including reconsideration by Bill Shorten of the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. But much more is needed.

Shorten should call for police to arrest and prosecute union thugs who[, through illegal pickets and blockades,] prevent workers from performing their jobs and companies from progressing their investments.

The administration of Fair Work Australia should be revamped with bureaucrats capable of protecting union members from misappropriations of union funds. And the Fair Work tribunal should be issued with guidance by the government based on the over-riding principle that its decisions on workplace relations must give businesses the right to operate on a competitive basis as judged by them.

Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic

return to letters list