News just out is that private-sector union membership in Australia has plunged to 9 per cent of the workforce. Unions are rapidly becoming public-sector-only, with about 37 per cent of that workforce. Perhaps this is why unions are campaigning so hard to try and force ‘wage slavery’ onto all of us. They are fighting for survival.
The ACTU’s core campaign is against ‘insecure work’. It aims to impose ‘permanent’ employment on Australians. But it’s illogical. In particular their campaign has been mugged in the blink of Covid eye reality.
When planes can’t fly, ‘permanent’ airline jobs also ‘fly’. Empty hotels mean an emptying out of permanent hospitality jobs. When cruise ships no longer cruise, the impermanency of every ship job hits home. Economic reality determines everything. Like it or not!
The ACTU’s claim that ‘insecure workers’ are more likely to face unemployment is just plain wrong. No job type—permanent, casual, part-time or contract—escaped the Covid mugging.
The illogicality of the ACTU stance extends to statistics. Unions portray ‘insecure’ work as a growing ‘problem’. That is false. Recent analysis from University of Melbourne Professor Mark Wooden confirms the following.
Casual employment has remained at around 20 per cent of the workforce for 20 years. Labour hire and gig work is small, at less than 5 per cent of the workforce. Self-employment has sat at around 2.1 million people but declined slightly as a workforce percentage to around 17 per cent over the last 15 years or so.
What’s also illogical in the ACTU stance is the complaint about casual employees’ lack of access to ‘entitlements’ such as holiday pay. This is plain nonsense.
Casuals get paid 25 per cent plus more than permanents to make up for holidays and so on. Casuals receive holiday pay built into their hourly pay. Permanents get paid less upfront and get paid the money when they take holidays. In fact, casuals end up with more money than permanents because full-time ‘entitlements’ usually only add about 19 per cent to their pay. Casuals can receive up to 6 per cent more than permanents.
The Federal government’s proposed new workplace laws will allow casuals to access permanent part-time work after 12 months. They will allow part-timers to work extra hours. The ACTU continues to find problems even under these reforms.
Even the economic ‘war’ with China has taught Australia that there is no such thing as ‘permanent’. We now are fully aware that reliance on permanency of trade with China or any one big national market is massively risky. Trade security is found in having a wide range of trading partners. It’s the same with work for individuals. Having a range of work and income sources is safer than relying on one ‘permanent’ job. In reality, ‘permanency’ is insecurity.
Too often the ACTU agenda falls apart in the face of the facts. On this issue their ‘anti-insecurity’ agenda looks like a policy solution searching for a policy problem that doesn’t exist.