[LINK] I'm going to throw something out there...
foconno1 at bigpond.net.au
Tue Feb 17 00:21:35 EST 2004
OK a few questions for you:
1. Where do CEO's (even ones in failing
enterprises) get off taking the exorbitant salary
and package rises they do?
2. Where does Telstra and the other utilities get
off making the inordinate (and in many cases
unjustified) increases to charges and the like? I
know for a fact that the cost of my phone line
was amortised by Telstra some many years ago ...
but I recently get charged a huge hike in rental
on same. I know for a fact that the local
electricity company has reduced repairs and
maintenance in my area by nearly 200% over the
last 5 years, and has installed NO new
infrastructure. So why was it necessary to raise
their levy - per unit of power - by more than
3. Where do the banks get off hitting their
customers with an inordinate number of charges
and items on their deposit accounts, when
previously thewy used to be able to make money on
those by relending at differential interest rates.
4. Where do the executives of the great free
market institutions of this country get off
denying responsibility for the various financial
fiascos that have happened over the last 20
years, black-mailing the government for public
monies to correct their mistakes
5. Where do industries in this country get off
blackmailing the government for protection
(either by subsidies, tax concessions or
whatever) to basically keep them in the black. If
you like I could itemise those industries.
6. Why are so many industries allowed to rip the
hell out of their piece-workers ... and make such
inordinate markups when the product finally hits
the retail end of the supply chain?
I suppose my point here is picking unions as the
enemy when others (who are in a position to do so
relatively uncontrolled due to either their
position in companies, the market or whatever) do
it with even greater disregard seems a tad
My original point was that unions are a part of
this free market economy of ours. They represent
aspects of the demand side. Saying that the
demand side is wrong to do so, and reserving that
privilege for the supply side seems a tad biased
A few other points to consider:
In a free market economy a lot of the bosses and
industries that you think may adopt your POV on
fair remuneration for workers simply doesn't
happen. Look at the clothing industry (an extreme
example). Greed rules at ALL levels in a free
market economy ... hey, that's the oil that makes
the wheels go round. Fine, I have no problem with
that. If their bottom line is the dollar out ...
then the worker should be afforded the same
privilege. We are not living in the age of 'a job
for life' anymore. Employers can basically hire
or fire at a whim. 'Loyalty' is passe.
You and I go where the buck is ... but we have
the added leverage of an education, a skills set
that is in high demand, and the ability to
basically pick up a job where and when we want
it. Like me you're probably in the top few
percentage points of income earners in this
nation. That's good for us ... we can parley our
assets and bargain from a point of strength.
The average Joe can't do that, or is in a
situation (wife, kids, mortgage etc etc) where he
can't parley his assets in such a risk taking
manner, or is simply too low on the corporate or
enterprise food chain to have any leverage at
all. So what does he do ... he bargains
collectively. It's his way of getting the bonus,
or the added weeks leave, or the increase in pay
that we can negotiate as our given right. (Got to
admit I haven't done any cross the table
negotiating for some while ... and am reasonably
content with my lot ... but you know what I mean.)
In a rationalist free market economy you make use
of your assets, you plan your approach, and you
try to get into a position of strength. And if
those are the rules ... then unions or any other
collective bargaining mechanism that can be
utilised are simply playing the game. I don't see
As for the 25% figure, I'm pretty sure that's
just an ambit claim ... that's how these things
tend to work.
Striking should be a last resort ... after all it
is the ultimate weapon of collective bargaining.
That said, if the company or enterprise or
whatever has been using delaying tactics of their
own ... then often it seems to be useful in
getting the other side to the table. A strike can
mean one of two things ... maverick union leaders
being too impatient or management that has been
way too tardy in negotiating with its employees.
In their shoes your or I would probably simply
resign and get employed elsewhere ... but as I
pointed out a lot of these people don't have that
In my book, things are rarely black and white,
and little numbers like salary negotiations can
also be used as keys to increase productivity,
improve procedure and working patterns, and to
make the industry concerned more efficient and
effective. Seeing collective bargaining purely as
a pitch for funds is simplistic ... see them as
an opportunity for the company or enterprise
concerned to get return concessions, and
everybody can win.
You also say "I also believe - and I'm sure this
is flame bait - that unionism creates a "work as
less as you can" mentality and can breed low
moral and be a catalyst for productivity issues.
Union members who live and die by the sometimes
absurd working hours of (again, an example)
starting at 8:41am and finishing at 3:47pm, with
a 43 minute lunch break, 4 smoke breaks and 2
coffee breaks not exceeding 8 minutes. There are
those who take these times to the extreme. I'm
sure we all know or have seen this type of
situation. There is no employee or employer
benefit in these sorts of schemes"
Lets see on one side we have the enterprise whose
object should be to make as much as it can from
whatever it does or whatever it produces, as is
the prime tenet of the free market ... and on the
other we have the employee who should be grateful
for whatever the enterprise lets drop their way.
I'm afraid not. If greed is the tenet of our
modern society (and I see no reason to believe
that it is not) then it applies both ways ...
organisations will operate to maximize profit and
reduce costs. That is an obligation they owe
their shareholders. Employees also work to the
same maxim. So do unionised employees.
Once you endorse the idea that rationalist
economics and the free market rules should apply,
then that is an inescapable conclusion. Taking
any other view point becomes hypocrisy.
At 6:50 PM +1100 16/2/04, Adam Neat wrote:
>Some valid points here and, whilst my original
>post may have come across somewhat soft, I do
>agree with your comments.
>I suppose I'm questioning whether that pendulum
>you talk about has swung and stayed swung for
>way too long. Is it valid and just for a group
>of workers to demand an additional 25% (albeit,
>typically over a few years) and usually on top
>of standard annual increases, just because? It
>also appears a completely pointless situation
>where you see striking unions impacting others.
>I see on the 6pm news tonight that a electricity
>union (or the couldn't quite grab it in time)
>in Melbourne has held a strike, ultimately
>cutting power to tens of businesses in an area
>in the outer Melbourne suburbs (Dingley). Those
>businesses are loosing money. Many of them are
>traders and are having to throw out thousands of
>dollars worth of soiled stock.
>Where and how do Unions justify this? It appears
>to be a "if I can't have it, then you can't have
>it" mentality on their behalf. In my opinion,
>completely irresponsible. On the flip side,
>Unions do have some good points. If a union
>member is sued for some reason (e.g.: child
>falls down at school teacher sued by
>parents.etc) then the union will back the
>teacher and pay for legal costs and
>As with most things, it all comes down to a need
>(greed?) for money. My view is therefore this;
>if a worker works hard and shows enthusiasm in
>their job (as in striving to better themselves,
>and just no iterate the same stock approach to
>something) they then should be rewarded. That
>reward does differ greatly depending on the
>profession or the respective industry. If a
>stockbroker brokers a great deal and receives a
>top commission, they may (or may not) receive a
>pay increase or bonus. They get a sizable bonus
>or pay increase because they have provided their
>employer (the stock broking firm) with a large
>return on a deal.
>You can't increase one's salary - which is
>predominantly the driver behind union strikes
>(and to a lesser extent, working conditions) -
>unless there is additional money available. This
>is why stock brokers (as an example) are
>typically higher than that of teachers. If a
>stock broker does good, then their firm will be
>rewarded. If a teacher does good, then the
>school will be rewarded with a good reputation
>and, the students will be rewarded with quality
>learning but, the income ratio potential between
>the two careers for their employers are what
>drives the reason why a stock broker earns less
>than a teacher.
>I also believe - and I'm sure this is flame bait
>- that unionism creates a "work as less as you
>can" mentality and can breed low moral and be a
>catalyst for productivity issues. Union members
>who live and die by the sometimes absurd working
>hours of (again, an example) starting at 8:41am
>and finishing at 3:47pm, with a 43 minute lunch
>break, 4 smoke breaks and 2 coffee breaks not
>exceeding 8 minutes. There are those who take
>these times to the extreme. I'm sure we all know
>or have seen this type of situation. There is no
>employee or employer benefit in these sorts of
>So, the argument starts to become cyclic. If a
>union member wants to force the upper hand and
>strike in an attempt to get more pay, their
>employer will loose money. Seems to me that if
>unions generally stopped striking, employers
>wouldn't need to build in as much contingency to
>their payroll for productive-days-lost due to
>strikes. Overly simplistic? Yes, but seriously,
>all this unionism is starting to become farcical.
>My argument is a bit disjointed but hopefully the gist is there.
>Adam Neat | Melbourne, Australia
>email: <mailto:adamneat at anoti.com>adamneat at anoti.com
>msn: <mailto:adamneat_ at hotmail.com>adamneat_ at hotmail.com
>From: Frank O'Connor [mailto:foconno1 at bigpond.net.au]
>Sent: Monday, 16 February 2004 4:40 PM
>To: adamneat at anoti.com
>Cc: link at www.anu.edu.au
>Subject: Re: [LINK] I'm going to throw something out there...
>I think you're being a tad simplistic ...
>Society works like a pendulum ... if it swings
>too far one way, there tends to be a reaction
>1. People now (unionised or not) tend to work
>more hours per week than they ever did in the
>early 20th Century.
>2. The rule for the last 20 years has been
>supply side rationalist economics. The rule has
>been consumerism at all costs. The rule has been
>for MORE of us to work ... which speaks badly of
>the so-called efficiencies of 'new technology'.
>3. Hence there's been more money available and in circulation.
>4. As a natural result of this prices have gone
>up, irrational credit splurges have happened,
>money finds its way into less than productive
>investments ... boom and bust occur.
>5. Because of this increase in moolah, and the
>propensity for more of us to work, we tend to
>worry less about what we pay for core
>investments ... housing and the like ... and pay
>more without question ... and at the same time
>tend to be able to 'take advantage' of various
>tax reduction and other strategies that overfuel
>certain markets ... like housing and the share
>market. (Urban house prices at the moment are
>ridiculous, many share issues are horrendously
>overvalued - especially if you look at them in
>terms of various price-return ratios in the 70's
>for example, and newbies into the various
>markets are being frozen out. Factor in the
>large proportion of the population that was
>never in the income level to take advantage of
>the current boom products, and the markets are
>getting unsustainable because new players aren't
>getting in there and old players are getting
>jaded and disillusioned)
>The concept of value shifts with the increase or
>decrease in the money supply. Fundamental
>economics. And what applies to prices also
>applies to wages.
>NB: Due to changes in the way stats are reported
>the effects of these spending changes aren't
>immediately obvious on little economic
>indicators like 'inflation' and the 'cost of
>living' and the like any more.
>6. The government has been progressively
>reducing services whilst the tax take has been
>increasing ... and when people add the 'user
>pays' amounts on top of their tax bills they are
>starting to get disillusioned with government
>and rationalist economics. Little numbers like
>education, child care, health and the like take
>up ever increasing amounts of our private
>budgets and ever lessening amounts of the public
>7. Rationalist economics by definition means
>that the connection between people and other
>people tends to lessen, and that it more often
>than not becomes a politics of self interest
>Some of these trends were inevitable ... some
>were proposed purely on an ideological basis.
>Some are the result of 'globalisation', others
>can be laid at the foot of changes in culture
>But nothing cultural or economic or political is written in stone.
>Now there's an inevitable reaction against all
>that ... people (particularly those in the ever
>squeezed middle class) are beginning to value
>their time and leisure and family and the like
>more than they did. People are deciding that the
>reduction of some core services, or the increase
>in housing prices, or the reduction in bank
>interest and increase in charges, or the
>increase in charges for core utilities or
>whatever require some form of monetary
>compensation (tax conessions etc) just to keep
>themselves on the treadmill without going
>I don't find that really surprising.
>One solution to that (and one which I disagree
>with BTW - because it's temporary at best,
>because it brings on problems of its own) is an
>increase in wages or better conditions. Hence
>unions find their membership more willing to
>take action to achieve those better conditions
>... and collective bargaining comes to the fore
>again. They find their membership increasing
>again as more people adopt the new mind-set.
>Additionally governments find their majorities
>dissipating as new voter mind-sets come to the
>fore ... as the incumbent government seems to be
>doing at present (and I'll be REAL surprised if
>there aren't sharp about-turns in policies
>relating to health, education, child care and
>the like in the next election campaign.) Poltics
>is dynamic, policies change ... that's life.
>Politicians understand that the collective
>mind-set of the people changes, that you can
>only hold course in one direction for so long
>before the inevitable reaction sets in and
>approval for that set of policies drops, and
>that the real engine behind social change tends
>to be an unquantifiable public yearning for
>different things, for beneficial change in their
>circumstances that Joe Public often evidences
>long before the pollsters even realise it.
>Blaming unions (which to me are merely a
>symptom) is a bit simplistic. (Unions only
>really exist in capitalist societies -
>communists societies abhor them - as a means of
>blowing off steam, of preventing one side of the
>production equation from taking undue advantage
>of the other side. The term 'collective
>bargaining' makes this clear. Without unions and
>a fair days pay your workers wouldn't have
>enough moolah to fund the consumer society that
>we've become ... they;d cease to be serious
>consumers ... and the incidence of economic
>depressions and 'down turns' would be a hell of
>a lot more dramatic and sustained. The trick ...
>as in everything - is to achieve balance.)
>The alternative is for misery to increase, and
>other less desirable means of blowing off steam
>Just my 2 cents worth ....
>At 11:19 PM +1100 on 15/2/04 you wrote:
>>[disclaimer: these comments are mine and mine only]
>>Seeing the recently circus that clouds the
>>Sydney Metro rail system, and numerous other
>>Union-orientated stop work or strike action
>>events in Australia, are we becoming too
>>socialistic in our day to day working lives?
>>I become frustrated when I see on the daily
>>news, and read in the weekend papers (AFR,
>>Weekend Oz, Herald Sun - Melb) so many
>>Unionised events that are occurring in
>>Australia. Whether it is a teacher rally or a
>>train drivers stop rally, you can bet your
>>bottom dollar that some union is going to be
>>striking for some reason.
>>I had a discussion with a laborer (fairly
>>senior in his construction company) several
>>months ago over a beer at a pub in Melbourne
>>and he tried to explain how hardly done they
>>[read: he] was doing. From memory, he earnt a
>>respectable 80K a year and worked an average 8
>>hours a day and had Sundays and Mondays off.
>>Yet, he wanted more.
>>What ever happened to the old ideals in
>>Australia of giving it a go and working hard
>>for your earnings. I personally work >60 hours
>>a week as a minimum and whilst I always wish I
>>had more money, I still only get paid for 37.5
>>hours a week. If I work a little harder and
>>under some harsher conditions for a few weeks,
>>I consider it part of the job. If it continues
>>beyond a few weeks, I'll sit down with my lead
>>and state my case, and get either additional
>>resources of (tangible) recognition. So, my
>>question is, what am I missing that mandates
>>Unions to demand higher pay for doing the same
>>job? I get annoyed when I see 300 labourers
>>walking down the street towards the city
>>central on a fortnightly basis to, can I say
>>it, bitch and moan about wanting more money.
>>Is this country going mad? Am I being overly
>>simplistic? What, if anything, are we doing
>>I could say more but, I'll wait to get responses first.
>>Adam Neat | Melbourne, Australia
>>email: <mailto:adamneat at anoti.com>adamneat at anoti.com
>>msn: <mailto:adamneat_ at hotmail.com>adamneat_ at hotmail.com
>>Link mailing list
>>Link at mailman.anu.edu.au
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