The Bolt Report in this episode explores the type of conduct we have come to expect from unions.
I have some sympathy for the plight of Australian workers. The reality however is that unions don't. Unions have never truly represented workers. You can of course stick a label on anyone and say they are "representatives". That however is not in itself a value proposition. Where the unions fell foul of their worker-members was by:
1. Resorting to extortion to win better conditions for workers. They lost that power when companies simply decided to shift manufacturing capacity to Asia from the late 1980s. The implication is that the unions took the easy steps to extort money, estranging workers from bosses as custodians of their interests. But unions never stepped up and offer anything other than a 'near criminal' sanction for stop work actions
2. Attempting to jocky for influence and kickbacks between workers and contracted businesses. I.e. they attempted to force union membership as a condition for being contracted, effectively enforcing blackbans against anyone that did not comply with their demands. By so doing the unions effectively profited from worker fees.
It is interesting how the Greens have always distanced themselves from such conduct; but never so much not to profit from that relationship. It makes you wonder - who are the conservatives?
Now if unions actually cared about workers, the unions would have negotiated to ensure training so they were better prepared for job losses. They wouldn't have taken steps to obstruct productive work practices.
The reality is that unions and representatives of labour have used "tragic" rhetoric to discredit capitalists, and it is fair to say that some bosses did not treat workers well, particularly in the old days, but the culture perpetuated by unions and their representatives has done nothing to aid that.
One of the reasons for the absence of justice in the workplace arena, and hence the intractable use of extortion to achieve desired outcome, was this culture of narrow vested interests of representatives.
It becomes more shameful when you recognise the cause of low wages. Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, unskilled workers have seen their wages stagnate in real terms. The unions lost their capacity to extort wage gains. The lost that capacity because capitalists had the option of shifting their factories to Asia to avail of cheaper labour. Not exploitation. Such jobs are welcome in Asia. The wages are far better than their parents ever had. Basically the first wage of a call centre agent is on par with a mature worker at around $400/mth.
These low wages could be considered as "exploitation". The reality however is that such wage levels are ultimately stimulus ensuring that:
1. Cashless, under-utilised workers are employed first in the greatest numbers because they are employed at the greatest benefit and lowest cost. I. E. Working getting low wages in a low-cost developing nation are better positioned to support more people with jobs in a competition with robots.
2. Businesses are rewarded for building more manufacturing capacity requiring more workers. Economies of scale means worker costs and productivity are improved, eventually allowing for higher wage demands.
3. Consumers are rewarded with low cost products. The "long boom" for the last 25yrs have resulted in the uptake of unskilled workers at unprecedented levels because of low wages ensuring low wages. We have all benefited from a litany of electronic devices.
The implication is that, as Bill Gates alluded to, capitalism has contributed to the raising of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the last 2 decades. The unions of course, or their representatives, would never acknowledge these facts.