RTBU: It’s time for bold policy

If you’re a progressive unionist and party member, it’s a good time to be in the fight – despite the challenges we face.

 

Once upon a time you might have had some respect for business leaders in this country. They were probably tories, but they had at least some integrity. Right now, and instead, they are just a small gang of old white blokes who run a fantastic scam implementing the same old formula and getting paid millions for it as they go.

It goes a bit like this. First, create a confusing and essentially nonsensical pseudo-scientific metric.. Why don’t we call that the Local Efficiency ratio. We get a few accountants, HR and creative types together and make sure the ratio has nothing to do with profits, just a circuitous route to staff numbers.

Second, create a crisis. The ratio is currently 85%! We have to get it to 75% or we’ll go bust! Oh no! If anyone criticises the ratio – they must be idiots! The ratio is there to save the business – idiot!

Third – restructure. We are currently a business that is ‘operationally’ focussed. We now need to be focussed on ‘disciplines’. In 12 months, let’s switch and do it again. And again.

Finally – contract out as much of the work as you can and keep cutting staff til you get to the point you barely get the job done.

Now – and this is the fight the RTBU and many other unions are up against right now – the introduction of labour hire to both fill the gap left by a severe cutting of permanent jobs as well as provide a scab labour force of permanents want to fight against the plan.

The RTBU is seeing this in the rail industry but we know it’s been happening to our friends elsewhere. In community campaigns against permanent job cuts, and labour hire recently we’ve been heartened at the support coming from local communities.

People across the board are sick of seeing good jobs getting replaced by shakey, labour hire often operating as FIFO therefore depriving local communities of both jobs and the spending that comes from local permanent work.

We speak plainly about it – that it’s unfair and demeaning. That it is going to wreck our communities, and leave nothing for future generations. We see a resolution coming in part from the proposed labour hire laws in Qld, but we need urgent reform from the federal government. Federal laws need to ensure labour hire and insecure employment are the exception, not the rule.

We have to be bold – incremental change won’t do. The community see’s it for what it is and will support a party with the ticker to end this scam.

 

Peter Allen – Industrial Officer - RTBU

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