Published in the Herald Sun, 20 June 2024

By Andrew McKellar

The recent threats from CFMEU boss John Setka against the AFL are a stark reminder of why most Australians shun the union movement. Amid this aggressive conduct, it’s no surprise that nine out of 10 Australian private sector workers choose to overlook unions.

As calls for the abolition of junior rates show, unions are disconnected from the needs of a modern workforce, particularly younger workers starting out.

Instead of focusing on delivering for their members, some union bosses are focused on asserting power and settling old scores.

Australia is facing a productivity crisis, yet it is rare to hear any union leader discussing how the country can work smarter for the benefit of all.

Unions are the most rigid organisations in the country, resisting any meaningful change, except to push for unrealistic demands like a four-day work week.

The government is now belatedly proposing a change to allow the manufacturing division to separate from the CFMEU.

But it’s not addressing the real problem. Shutting down the Australian Building and Construction Commission was a huge mistake – it was the sole organisation that could keep the rogue CFMEU in check.

Setka was so emboldened that he thought it was perfectly fine to try to bully the AFL into sacking its head of umpires, who previously worked for the ABCC.

Setka might think he is special or unique. He is not. He is the latest in a long-running tradition in the construction sector.

Employers feel that many of the government’s industrial relations law changes have encouraged these kinds of union antics.

The so-called closing loopholes legislation is designed to aid union recruiting. Instead of making it easier to employ more people, it’s not so much about closing loopholes than closing a vice on small businesses.

Rather than making it easier for young people to enter the workforce or reducing red tape, unions were given more power to enter workplaces.

Australia’s leadership needs to stand up to outrageous behaviour by unions, urgently address our sagging productivity and make it easier to employ people.

The tedious antics of rogue union bosses might be absurd and slightly bemusing, but serious implications exist. Left unchecked, we all will pay a higher price.

Andrew McKellar is the chief executive officer of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Ashley Gardiner

Director - Media and Communications

P: 0262708020

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