Monday, 1 June 2009

I am not an economist

or a mathematician so I fail to understand how paying some people more, a lot more, will be a good thing for the economy.
I am perfectly happy for people to be paid adequately. They should be paid well for doing a good job - whatever that job happens to be.
There are other things that can get in the way of being paid more than that. Can your employer afford it? Is paying you more going to put someone else out of work? Is it going to put you out of work because your employer can no longer afford to pay you and your workmates the extra you have so blithely demanded? Does it mean that your employer, who has taken all the risks and done the really hard work of building up a business so that you can be paid, must lose everything for your short-term gain?
Australian unions seem to be thinking this way. They are back in power. The ACTU is a loud voice at Labor Party conferences again. They claim to be standing up for "workers' pay, rights and conditions" and for Rudd's "working families". They say that the previous government's "Work Choices" scheme had nothing good about it at all. It seems the ACTU has all the answers. You pay people more. You give them more rights. You impose more conditions on employers. When the employer goes under it is never the fault of the employees - after all employees have rights.
Yes, there are bosses who have been greedy, excessively greedy. They have mismanaged their businesses. Their faults are many and, if press resports are to be believed, their virtues are few. I suspect they are in the minority. Most bosses want to do the right thing by their employees. They want to do it because it is the best thing for them as well as their employees. Everyone benefits. Bosses and workers have mutual obligations and responsibilities.
So it is sad to learn that a thriving small business here which employs just eleven people is in danger of closing because the union movement has now threatened to make it impossible for them to carry on. They have been harrassing the employees for months. The employees do not want to join the relevant union. With just eleven of them they are in close contact with the boss all the time. They work hard. They work together. They get well paid. They get the same conditions as union members and more besides. The union does not like that.
Unions had their place. They still have their place. They do not however have the right to interfere in a well run business simply because people do not belong to the union movement.


Katy said...

That sounds like a completely daft situation, Cat. I do have to roll my eyes sometimes...

catdownunder said...

Of course it is daft. The union movement is daft to be behaving this way. The new legislation they are insisting on (and they have the clout at the Labor Party conference to get it made policy) will cost thousands of jobs - but, according to them, it will improve wages and conditions - for them that have jobs. I am self employed and I am waiting to be told I have to join the union of the self-employed. I am sure they are planning on one!