Monday, May 28, 2007

Rudd clan's hypocrisy on IR

I thought the Labor Party preached that collective workplace agreements worked better than individual contracts. Collective agreements, it is claimed, are fairer and provide higher productivity.

Not so for Party leader Kevin Rudd’s wife, Therese Rein who has all of the 800 Australian workers in her own business on individual contracts. They traded their penalty rates and other conditions for 45 cents per hour. Therese’s firm also provided jobs to job seekers to be employed under Australian Workforce Agreements – the individual contracting arrangement Labor has promised to abolish.

Rein has now indicated she will sell off her business before the election in order to eliminate the prospect of ‘conflicts of interest’ with the government – she derives almost all her income from the public trough. But this is a diversion – the ‘conflicts of interest’ could have been handled. The deceitful hypocritical Labor Party industrial relations policy is the difficulty here. It must go.

Rudd has attacked the retailer Spotlight’s deal for stripping workers of conditions while Gillard has attacked, in a cowardly way, the operator of a motel in Goulburn for doing what Therese Rudd has done.

I assume Rein will say she was not involved in any unseemly attempt to cut wages – the individual contracts she imposed were ‘common law’ agreements and the 45 cents fully compensated workers for their lost conditions. Gulp; can she say that with a straight face? If you believe that you will believe anything.

Rein was behaving like an intelligent employer and doing intelligent deals with her workforce. Deals that worker and employer agree to and which provide advantage to both parties. The guilty party here is not Therese for 'driving down wages' but her husband’s daft political party with its foolish, backward-looking industrial relations policy that is essentially designed to revive the fading fortunes of the trade unions.

That objective will fail and job opportunities, flexibility and productivity will diminish if such policies are introduced.

5 comments:

conrad said...

Attacking people based on what their wives do is not exactly thrilling -- why not include the rest of family/relatives too?

I think the problem for the Liberal party on this is that even if they do criticize this, then what is their solution? Criticize something they want to legalize? Thats hardly going to score them political points, and seems like yet another act of desperation which their campaign has degenerated to.

Mike said...

While the ALP indeed pushes the line that collective agreements are better than individual agreements, their current and previous policy on IR acknowledges the need for individual contracts as an alternative, when those contracts are common law contracts. The ALP has framed their objection to the current IR legislation in terms of opposition to AWAs. Hence the inclusion of common law contracts as an acceptable alternative even back under Beazley's arguably more ideologically extreme attacks against current legislation.

From this point of view, the argument that there’s a double-standard here doesn’t really hold. In the case of Ms Rein, as I understand it the employees were on common law contracts. If this was the case, and those contracts ensured that the employees were able to gain the compensation for the reduction in entitlements (which may not have been the case had they signed AWAs), one could argue the Rein case can be used to support the ALP's position on current IR legislation.

At worst, this seems to be not so much a case of double standards, as a "half-pregnant" policy; "We promote collective agreements but common law contracts are alright in some cases." That might be a confusing message to get out to voters, but at the moment the ALP's able to focus on bagging AWAs rather than discussin gthe nuances of its own policies.

hc said...

Conrad, The attack here is directed at Kevin Rudd for his hypocrisy. I say explicitly 'The guilty party is not Therese'.

Mike, I doubt 45 cents per hour recoups the value of conditions in which case it approximates in effect an AWA. And the ALP does seek to promote collective bargaining. I think it is hypocrisy on a grand scale.

chrisl said...

It is all slightly surreal. Howard fighting for his battlers. And Ms Rein ripping off workers and making millions.
Two legs good, four legs better

Mark U said...

Harry,

Whether 45 cents per hour compensates for the loss of overtime depends on the average amount of overtime that was being worked and the typical rates of pay.

I think I read somewheere the rate of pay was around $13.80 per hour. If the average amount of overtime was, say, 2 hours per week over and above 37 hours, then a 45 cents per hour increase would compensate for the loss of overtime.