Saturday, May 2, 2015

Unions and Money

Quite often a conversation will break out in the Tavern about taxes and cheats, 'evasion' and of course, the 1%. Such discussions mostly arise from some lefty who has slipped in under the Tavern's 'Tolerance' rule.

It is unfortunate that some are otherwise supportive folk in some matters but one has to be careful with whom one associates.

The 'workers' are seen as done-down (not to be confused with dumbed-down) while the 'fat cats' get away with massive fraud. 

Which of course shafts the 'workers'.

Some of it is quite understandable. The very rich do all too often pay less percentage-wise than the poorer saps who work for that same 'man'. (It's always a man despite most of the world's wealth being inherited by widows who outlive their lifetime love and provider). 

And this is a cause for angst amongst the lefties who conveniently overlook the fact that it is the 'high earners (like lorry drivers in the Pilbara) that pay most of the taxes in Oz while well over a mere majority of people contribute a net negative. That is, they get more than the modest amount that they do pay in taxes.

Recently even I had to splutter hearing that the Arch Lefty Georg Soros, the financier of many a lefty political cause and general interference,  owes some $7 Billion in taxes.  Lefties rarely mention one of their own. 
Looking over his shoulder for the IRS 
They never, of course, point a finger at actors and actresses who earn mega-millions for ....what exactly? Reading a script that a somewhat literate 'worker' has written?

Or footballers who 'earn' several hundred thousand per annum (sometimes millions) for kicking a ball around. These are the 'workers' heroes !  No-one to my ken has asked how much tax they pay and how many are cheating. 

Drug cheating by their hero is defended to the hilt, but tax cheating never even looked at.

Demands are made to stop the 'tax concessions' that Churches enjoy, but no-one seems to say the same about Unions.

Why is that?

Unions 'protect' the 'workers' we are to understand. And direct the socialists in political power.

They create and deploy public  'Policy' through their Parliamentary mouth-pieces, and only occasionally does this produce a fit of coughing. As it has now. 

And yes, it does have something to do with same-sex marriage equality, although frankly I am buggered ('scuse the pun) if I can see what it has to do with working for the man. 

Perhaps it is something to do with that shafting.

But in looking at which Unions support gay union and which do not, some odd and rather more 'worker' shafting is exposed. As Judith Sloan (Professor and frequent customer of this Tavern) told us.
It’s not about gay marriage
The revelation that the Shoppies enters into bargains with the big supermarkets to obtain close-to-closed shop arrangements is not new.  Mind you, the fee that the union pays to Woolies and Coles to electronically remit the union dues from the employees’ pay packets looks a bit steep.
Get that? The Union PAYS a fee to the Supermarkers to take money from the workers. The  Union takes that fee from the workers ! Do you think the workers know about that? 
But when there is a pact with the devil – chose which party you regard as the devil – there is always a price to pay.

This is how the arrangement works.  The Shoppies (the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association – SDA) offers the big supermarkets special deals relative to the award – no penalty rates on Saturday, lower penalty rates on Sunday and Public Holidays. There is a bit of boost to the cash rate of pay for workers relative to the award,  but it’s a very good deal for the supermarkets, particularly as their competitors are not offered the same deal (this is part of the pact) and many of the smaller operators are bound by the award.
(One of the reason that everyone got so upset by the proposed deal in SA is that the essence of the big supermarket deal might be made available more widely.)
The Fair Work Commission certifies these agreements because they are union EBAs. Strictly speaking, they do not meet the BOOT (better off overall test) for employees working exclusively during weekends and Public Holidays – but what the heck.  The SDA likes it, Coles and Woolies like it, the vote of workers gives it the tick.
It is just that the workers do not know about being sold down the river and having to pay the guy that does the selling. 
In exchange for this deal, the big supermarkets facilitate union membership by allowing a union delegate in at the time of induction and providing all the paperwork to new employees.   
New workers aren’t quite forced to sign up, but it is pretty close – strongly encouraged, you might say.
The Union has 'boys to send around' too, of course.  
This is the last that most Woolies and Coles employees will see of the union.

It’s a great deal for the Shoppies – a steady flow of union dues and membership numbers boosting influence in the Labor Party, thereby securing pre-selections for Shoppies (or more generally, Right) candidates in both federal and state parliaments.   
Paying a commission to Coles and Woolies for the arrangement is a price well worth paying.
Especially when it is the workers who are coughing up as they are shafted. 
Now Fairfax has never taken the slightest notice of this extremely dubious and dodgy deal until the overlay with the quest for legalised gay marriage emerged.   
The SDA, being one of the few 'conservative' unions, is strongly opposed to legalised gay marriage and it would expect its aligned parliamentarians to vote it down.

For The Age, unions good (make that Left unions good); encouragement of union membership good; unions opposing gay marriage bad.  It’s all very vexing.
In fact, the real issue is the immorality of the arrangement whereby young people are effectively dragooned into joining the union only to be sold down the river in terms of pay and conditions.  And this arrangement is endorse by our ‘independent umpire’.
Here’s the teeth gnashing piece from The Age:
Australia’s biggest private-sector union pays major employers including Coles and Woolworths up to $5 million a year in commissions that help maintain its large membership, and influence in the Labor Party.

The ALP’s largest union affiliate, the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA) plays a significant role in social policy debates, its influence viewed as pivotal to marriage equality in Australia.
Fairfax Media has investigated the political, industrial and social clout wielded by the SDA, and its close relationship with employers, including payments to retailers of as much as $40 million over the past decade as “commission” for the employers deducting union fees from members’ pay packets.
The Catholic-led union has been a stumbling block for same sex marriage legislation, and could be again when the issue returns to Parliament later this year.
 As I said, it is unfortunate that some are otherwise supportive folk in some matters but one has to be careful with whom one associates.
This week, the union again weighed into the marriage issue, slamming Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek’s call for Labor’s July national conference to force a binding vote on the issue.

The shoppies’ power is based on numbers in the union movement, the ALP and in parliaments, with 10 to 12 federal MPs within its immediate orbit of influence.
"They just forget to say how much I was paying for it"
The Andrews government in Victoria includes about nine SDA-linked MPs – although a recent internal spat appears to have reduced that number to seven, for the moment – including cabinet ministers and Deputy Premier James Merlino.

But the ultimate source of the union’s strength is its 200,000-plus membership including supermarket, department store and fast-food staff, warehouse workers, hairdressers and models.
The large membership – and its maintenance – has become more important as other unions have declined over the last 25 years, giving the SDA proportionately more power in the ALP.
The union’s methods for gaining and maintaining members are unusual by current industrial relations standards. It pays up to 10 per cent of members’ dues in commissions to major employers including Coles and Woolworths, ostensibly for the cost of payroll deductions.
The fees – totaling as much as $5 million a year – are likely well in excess of the true cost to employers of electronic payroll deductions.
The figures are based on publicly available accounts for some of the larger SDA branches which detail the “commission” payments.
Other unions, including the National Union of Workers and meat workers union, also pay fees for payroll deductions, but the payments are much lower and in the tens of thousands, not millions.
SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the union had been paying the fees since a 1971 ACTU-brokered “closed-shop” agreement struck between the big retailers and unions including the SDA.
Under that agreement employers literally signed up members. The fees remain despite closed shops being banned nearly 20 years ago.
Mr Dwyer defended the payments as an administrative charge. He said they helped the union, which struggled with turnover of workers in the casualised and part-time retail sector. “It’s just there, it’s just a fact of life,” he said. “If you were starting with a clean slate maybe you’d do it differently.”
Mr Dwyer denied the payments compromised the union or bolstered its membership. “I completely reject there is any linkage between the money and the energy in our representation.”
Eh up, a real Mandy Rice Davis moment there !! 
"Well, 'e would say that, wouldn't 'e?"
He said retail workers in Australia were some of the highest paid in the world.

A Coles spokesman did not answer questions on how much it receives from the SDA but said it receives a “small fee” to offset costs. Woolworths also would not say how much it receives and said its “administration of these fees” was in line with other companies.
While senior Labor figures estimate about a sixth of Labor’s caucus is closely aligned to the SDA – the largest union bloc in the federal party – it also has a reputation for using hardline tactics in the ALP to bolster its clout.
Labor’s platform supports marriage equality, however, in 2011 a compromise pushed by the SDA, it also allowed MPs a conscience vote. 
It will be an issue again at the ALP national conference in July.

Prominent lobby group Australian Marriage Equality says SDA could be the difference between same sex legislation passing Parliament this year.
“It [the union] influences the votes of enough Labor senators and MPs to make the difference if, as seems likely, the overall vote is close,” said the group’s national director, Rodney Croome.
Political scientist John Warhurst said the SDA was set to play a  ”crucial” role in the debate.
“A conscience vote on both sides would mean the matter will be fought out on individual basis, MP by MP; and the numbers would be very important.
“The legislation would only pass if you have a pretty strong vote from ALP MPs. So the SDA could well be crucial to the outcome.”
But even if Labor changes its policy to require a binding vote, SDA-linked and MPs are likely to cross the floor, and risk expulsion, to vote against same sex marriage.
In 2012, a marriage equality bill was defeated 98 to 42 when close to 30 Labor MPs voted with the Coalition against it. Many of the Labor MPs who voted no were linked, to varying degrees, to the SDA.
“If it wasn’t for the SDA,” said Mr Croome, “Australia may well have had marriage equality in 2012.”
National SDA president Joe de Bruyn insisted that, while the union had never polled its members on the issue, they agreed “absolutely” with the union leadership on same sex marriage.
A bit of a quandry amongst cusomers in the bar. The Catholics and many of the traditionalist others approve of the stance of the Union's opposition to  'same-sex marriage'. BUT they disapprove of power being gained by cheating workers. Especially young workers.

Someone should get the mops out and go into the Union's cellars for a lot of hard washing of floors.



  1. First and foremost the role of the trade union is to look after its members interests. Safe working conditions, fair pay, negotiation with management in the workplace etc...

    Unfortunately senior activists can forget what their roll is (looking after the members interests). They look after their own interests and keeping their position in the Union hierarchy. This is most noticeable in Unions that are affiliated to the Labour Party.

    Behaving in the same way as politicians...

    Democratic unions are not affiliated to any party and allow their members to vote and choose on issues. The problem is that most union members (in democratic unions) can't be bothered to vote and so only the activists vote... The result is a foregone conclusion!

    Democratic unions tend to be those that represent what would have been formerly called 'White Collar Workers' and the Labour unions represent what would be formerly called 'Blue Collar Workers'.

    This is only a brief summary of my thoughts, I could go on a bit about the subject ;-)

    1. I suspect ( as I don't know) that it varies across different western countries. I also suspect (same reason) that if you compared all the wages lost by workers called out on strike with the cumulative tiny gains they won from such action, they would still have a net loss.

      It is only left wing Unions that consistently support a political party. Are there any right wing Unions?

  2. In 2012, a marriage equality bill was defeated 98 to 42 when close to 30 Labor MPs voted with the Coalition against it. Many of the Labor MPs who voted no were linked, to varying degrees, to the SDA.

    One of your most interesting. What a conundrum - while vital to oppose gay "marriage", the other part is appalling. Hmmmmmm. Lefties in the ALPS seem as evil as the ones here.

    1. You cannot even buy Integrity these days.

  3. Of course, the wealthiest people in Australia, be they male or female, pay no tax. The super contributions, negative gearing, and the family trust means we owe them. A clever accountant does the sums. Don't tell me differently, I know these guys and they don't pay anything above a minimal, token amount. They're proud to leave the tax paying to the truck driver in the Pilbarra, who incidentally, doesn't have a job anymore. Which is why we're in a heap of trouble.

    I have a very good friend who is worth many millions. He thinks that paying tax is for suckers.

    For the record, I pay plenty of tax in Australia. I wouldn't have it any other way. And no, you can't buy integrity.


    1. I wish I had friends with many millions. You move in different circles, Nick. Perhaps you might consider more moral friends.

      As for the rich not paying tax, that subject has been here before and the ATO figures say otherwise. And the good Lord Clyde of Avon has already, in this Tavern, stated the singular obligations of the taxing authorities and the taxpayers, and the moral position that is every man's legitimate right.

      By the way, your computer is infected.


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Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..