Why Australians who refuse to join a union would be FORCED to pay hundreds of dollars in fees under radical pressure to change workplace laws
Unions NSW wants to pay non-union members for collective bargaining
Secretary Mark Morey attends Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra
With just 14 percent of workers in a union, industrial groups are lobbying for Labour
Australians who refuse to join a union could be forced to pay hundreds of dollars in compensation if they take advantage of a pay increase they didn’t fight for.
Closed shops, where bosses can only hire union members, have been illegal since 1996 under laws introduced by the government of former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard.
But with Labor back in power, unions are lobbying hard to boost their finances with just 14 percent of workers being unionized.
Young Australians are even less likely to join a union: just 5 percent of 15 to 19 year olds belong to 6 percent for 20 to 24 year olds, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.
Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey wants the federal government to change labor relations so that non-union workers must pay compensation if they take advantage of a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by a union.
“Under this proposal, a levy on freeriders would be limited to 70 percent of the annual union dues and paid only if the employee benefit from the company agreement exceeds this amount,” unions said in its report Jobs Worth Fighting For: Five ideas to reform Australian workplaces.
Australians who refuse to join a union could be forced to pay hundreds of dollars if they take advantage of a collective industrial agreement (pictured is a protesting member of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union in September 2021)
The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance charges middle-income workers $755 per year.
If unions get NSW their way, an employee who takes advantage of a union-negotiated collective agreement could potentially have to pay $528 every four years — the nominal expiration time between company agreements.
They would only be able to get around this if they concluded an individual contract with their employer.
Just over a third, or 35.1 percent, of all Australian workers were covered by a company agreement in May 2021.
Unions NSW takes part in Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Jobs and Skills Summit to be held at Parliament House in Canberra from September 1 to 2.
It released an analysis showing: 30.7 percent of private sector workers benefited from company agreements with only 9.5 percent contributing to union dues.
But with Labor back in power, unions are lobbying hard with just 14 percent of workers joining unions by 2020, with even fewer young people (Sydney waitress, photo)
Unions NSW argued that the US, Canada and New Zealand had laws that allowed unions to charge fees to freeriders.
‘This free riding must stop,” it read.
“It is unfair to union members whose dues make these negotiations possible and give them the strength needed to negotiate good results.
“It is also creating perverse economic outcomes that have fueled the Australian wage growth crisis.”
Despite unemployment falling to a 48-year low of 3.4 percent in July, wages rose just 2.6 percent in the year to June.
This was less than half the inflation rate of 6.1 percent, the highest since 1990 without the one-off effect of the introduction of the GST in 2000 and 2001.
Wages were set centrally in the 1980s when Bob Hawke’s Labor government negotiated a series of price and income deals with the Australian Council of Trade Unions to control double-digit inflation.
But over the past three decades, union membership has plummeted from 39.6 percent in 1992 to 14.3 percent in 2020.
This coincided with Paul Keating’s Labor government introducing workplace bargaining, effectively replacing industry-wide bargaining.
The ACTU has been fighting since 2000 to make free riders pay for wage increases negotiated by unions.