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An interesting switch

April 29th, 2007

Following Kevin Rudd’s launch of an IR policy including 12 months unpaid parental leave for each parent of a new baby, the Sunday Telegraph ran Glenn Milne’s story* under the headline “Rudd Caves: Unions win child-friendly industrial relations coup”. Given that Rudd has been pushing the family-friendly line hard since the day he was elected leader this seemed OTT even for the increasingly absurd Tele (still running global warming delusionism I note). Apparently someone else thought so – the online edition is running with “Rudd goes to bat for workers”

Update Monday 30 April Milne’s story in the Oz goes back to “Caves”. This is just silly. All these people seem to be living in the 70s when union-bashing was good politics (compare the vendetta against student unions, settling scores from the same era). Supposing that the Labor party structure had no union representation at all, I doubt that the policy would have been much different. It’s obviously necessary for Labor to fight the government on WorkChoices. Given this, it’s hard to see how the policy could have been much more moderate than it is without being open to attack as purely cosmetic.

* Note that standard practice, presumably followed here, would be for the headline to be written by a sub-editor without reference to Milne.

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  1. April 30th, 2007 at 23:59 | #1

    Suppose that the ALP party structure had no union representation at all. Hmm, now there’s a thought. It is one thing for a political party to have unionists in it’s ranks but the power the unions themselves have within the ALP structure is an ongoing concern. Simon Crean thought so and he was a unionist. The composition of a prospective ALP front bench seems to prove the point. And why oh why can’t they ditch that socialist mantra about nationalising all means of production? Keating thought the queen was outdated but apparently the 19th century communist symbolism within the core of the ALP is something we should be unconcerned by.

    The telegraph headline seems apt enough. It only seems silly if you think the ALP should be handled with kid gloves between now and the next election. Rudd is in the pocket of the broader union movement and proudly so. He believes in the socialisation of the workplace. He has already declared himself an enemy of Hayek and he is clearly in favour of a coercive work culture. So maybe “caved” is the wrong word but lets not be too precious about a headline that gets it broadly correct.

  2. mugwump
    May 1st, 2007 at 10:18 | #2

    “Suppose that the ALP party structure had no union representation at all.”

    Interesting thought. Let’s add to that anyone who has little or no private sector experience and party apparatchiks. There’ll be no-one left. Conditioning on the empty set, you can conclude anything you like.

  3. May 1st, 2007 at 10:33 | #3

    Let’s add to that anyone who …

    Perhaps you missed the distinction between UNIONS and UNIONISTS.

  4. May 1st, 2007 at 12:44 | #4

    Maybe Union representation should be reduced from 50% to the current proportion of the workforce who are union members.

  5. May 1st, 2007 at 13:00 | #5

    For the good of the country it would be best if unions had no vote within the ALP but rather individual union members joined the ALP as they saw fit. One person one vote and all that. Although I expect that 50% of the ALP representation as defined by the current structure might oppose such a reform. At the end of the day the ALP does not exist for the good of the country but to serve the interests of it’s owners.

  6. Andrew
    May 2nd, 2007 at 12:13 | #6

    Interesting reaction from the business community – universal condemnation of the scapping of AWAs and the reversion to a system that may see the re-emergence of pattern bargaining. I guess business was always going to be unhappy – but usually it takes a very low profile in the political sphere. Gillard’s silly analogy about politics being a contact sport and that business should stay off the field or risk getting hurt would certainly have got business leaders’ backs up. What was she thinking? bizarre.

    Also very notable that the ALP’s business advisor Rod Eddington has been completely absent from the debate. Rudd this morning tried to fend that off by claiming Eddington was only working as an intermediary with business on climate change. That wasn’t what he was saying when Eddington was appointed.

    I think ‘caved in’ is a very apt description of what’s happened. A policy written by Gillard and Combet with no consultation with business is a complete ‘cave in’ to union demands.

    If Howard is smart – he can now take the middle ground here and completely derail the ALP IR process. He should make some amendments to WorkChoices – give workers back the key things they are asking for – and position himself as the sensible compromise. He can then get the debate centred back on the economy and how bad the ALP will run things – exhibit 1 – IR policy.

  7. gordon
    May 2nd, 2007 at 17:59 | #7

    As Prof. Quiggin suggests, we are right back among the issues of thirty years ago – not really surprising given the Rodent’s age. The Great Hates of employers are the same: right to strike, Union organisers’ access to the workplace, arbitration of disputes and collective bargaining itself. But Rudd has “caved” much more to business than to the ACTU on all these issues.

  8. Andrew
    May 4th, 2007 at 08:07 | #8

    There we go… surprise, surprise…. Howard is smart!

    John Howard announces changes to WorkChoices to position it more to the middle (see my post above)….. this will be difficult for the ALP to counter.

    Quotes from Howard in the SMH –
    “There is an uneasiness in the community that it might become the norm for people to lose their penalty rates for nothing in return, and we want to stop that,” . “This puts us in the middle ground of the industrial relations debate.”

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