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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Mummy, the unions are going to get me

How did I miss this utter shite from Albrechtsen yesterday in The Ex-Australian. This time it is an attack on unions. We start off with Janet's wonderful metaphorical skills:
HAS anyone noticed the elephant in the middle of Labor's caucus room? Big, grey and seemingly immovable, it's called the union movement. Since Labor's devastating election loss, Mark Latham and the ALP have been skipping around it, looking to lay blame on anything but their ties to the union beast.
I can almost see it Janet, snuffling around like a big grey immovable er beast. Why the monstrous vision of unions Janet? Please, go on....
Let's suppose you own a pub, a bottle shop or a newsagency. A thief walks in, threatens and injures an employee, and steals the day's takings. Imagine that a union can bring a criminal prosecution against you for failing to provide a safe workplace.
Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try. Imagine that a union has arcane powers to summon demons. What is the basis of this legal fantasy where a small shopkeeper gets his arse sued? Well...
In 2002 the Public Service Association of NSW prosecuted the Roads and Traffic Authority over the explosion of an LPG bottle. The RTA was fined $90,000. Half went to the union. The next year the same union sued the Department of Education over attacks on teachers by violent students. The department was fined $160,000. Half went to the union. In the same year the Finance Sector Union prosecuted ANZ Bank over an armed robbery. The bank was fined $156,000. The union received half.
Oh I see, the verdicts went against small time operators, which could be YOU! Where were the thieves Janet? How much was the "day's takings" that were stolen? You wouldn't be just stretching reality a tad here would you? Unions do lose cases incurring losses you know.
Remember that some, though not all, of these unions pump money into the ALP – the party in government in NSW. Since 1995 the FSU has donated $274,540.84 to the NSW branch of the ALP.
Of course unions donate to the bloody ALP. For 2003 total union funding, if you want to get picky about it was $4.9 million. But other funding for the ALP (businesses etc) was $3.3 million less than the liberals. Equity mate, equity. The liberals receive bungs from the shadowy Cormack Foundation, the ALP get wedges from the unions.
Workplace safety is a serious issue. But taking it seriously requires unbiased, independent prosecutions.
Oh dear, don't go defaming the judiciary again Janet. So what would happen in this brave new legal world where an employer breached OH&S laws resulting in the injury of a worker and the worker neither had the skills nor the finance to get through a barrage of red tape razor wire to sue the bastards?
Federal Labor cannot hope to convince voters of its economic credentials until it detaches itself from the union teat and confronts the need for industrial relations reform.
OK, we'll do a trade. The ALP will swap unions if the Liberals get of the fat leprous teat of exploitative corporations that would not give a shit about safety if the unions didn't hold them to account. And so ends another episode of the Scary World of Janet Albrechtsen, a place where hyperbole and fear seep through the oily rag that is The Ex-Australian.

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