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Mike Hosking: This Government is desperate to save the unions

Mike Hosking ,
Publish Date
Thursday, 7 March 2019, 9:42a.m.
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

MBIE's numbers on unions should, of course, be celebrated. Just 10 per cent of workers working in businesses are union members.

It's probably a surprise to most of us that it's that little, and it will be a surprise because unions, for their size, get a ludicrous amount of coverage.

In part, the reason they get bang for buck on the noise front is because the media, particularly the journalistic part, are heavily unionised. Comrades in arms if you like.

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Bolger government of the early 1990s, who basically opened up our workforce to choice. The Employment Contracts Act brought in choice, and our choice was to scarper from the unions, and we have never really
looked back.

There is now an entire generation of people who have entered the workforce that have never really been bothered by the restriction of the union movement. And the irony is those particular professions who remain heavily unionised are the ones that are most
repressed and depressed.

Why? Because the model is broken. The union model is not about what has made this country so successful these past 30 years. Individuality, personal endeavour, skill, talent, hard work, enterprise and risk have all risen.

And that is why we should really celebrate the 10 per cent. It’s a reflection of who we really are - 90 per cent of us don’t align ourselves with that sort of thinking and outlook. It's not like you can't join a union, and that’s the beauty of our system and economy, free choice. Yes, you can join, we just don’t want to.

And the fact the union movement hasn't, seemingly in any way shape or form, been able to adapt to this changed reality over a number of decades tells you all you need to know about their outlook on life. Any other business with a model this old, antiquated,
and ineffective would have closed it down. It's the branch office of ideology that has passed its used by date.

Which is why if you connect the dots, this government is having so much trouble on a variety of policies right now, from the CGT, to the workplace reform, to the fair pay recommendations.

This is largely union think and it's being delivered by a government tied to unionism, with many a member of the ruling Labour Party from a union background.

The sheer concept that you can trigger an industry-wide agreement on pay by having one in ten workers vote for it thus ignoring nine in ten, is classic union think.

This is a government that wants to strengthen unions. Not because we want that, or they're relevant, or they're a new idea to boost productivity, but because that’s all they know. The same way unions only know that it's one for all, and all for one, placards,
picket lines are good ideas.

It's an anathema to the vast majority of us, indeed 90 per cent of us. Remember that next time the headlines are festooned with industrial action.

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