In the nineteenth century, the father of communism, Karl Marx, ‘created’ class ideology where ‘evil’ capitalists always exploited the working class (who were little more than wage slaves). The worker–bosses war has been fought ever since. Workers have been allowed to strike and bargain collectively through unions to secure their rights against the exploitative bosses.
However self-employed, small business people upset this simple idea because we are both the worker and boss in one. How is it that we can ‘exploit’ ourselves? This has resulted in confused law. It’s confused unions who try hard to force self-employed people to be employees so we can be ‘exploited’ and join the union class. It’s pretty silly really.
But the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has come to the rescue. The ACCC regulates the economy, checking that big businesses doesn’t use their dominant power to exploit consumers. But now the ACCC has taken another step to stop big businesses using their dominant power against self-employed, small business people. The ACCC is making it really easy for small businesses to bargain collectively with big businesses.
Small business collective bargaining has been available for a few years, but you needed significant legal knowledge to do it correctly. And you had to receive ACCC approval. Now it’s very simple. It:
Only requires a one-page form. No lodgement fee.
Authorisation is then automatic.
Your business turnover must be less than $10m a year.
The ACCC link is here.
What does this mean in practice? Here are some simple examples:
If you are (say) an IT contractor supplying services to (say) a government department that applies a standard pay rate across all similar services, a group of IT contractors could get together to negotiate a different rate.
If you are a retailer and want to bulk buy a product from a supplier, you could get together with other small retailers to negotiate a better price if you buy collectively.
If you are putting in a tender to supply (say) HR services to a large company, you could get together with other HR independent contractors to put in a collective tender.
This collective bargaining process offers opportunities to at least partially match the bargaining power of big business and government by self-employed, small business people. It creates real, additional opportunities for small business.
Combine this with the new pay-on-time laws and the planned ‘beefing up’ of the unfair contract laws and Australian small business people are really starting to receive a fair go in the Australian economy. These are big, important reforms.
The only problem is that unions and others who passionately believe in Karl Marx’s workers–bosses war might feel a bit annoyed. If class ideology is suppressed by new, fairer market regulation, how do unions and others still maintain the battle?