Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bolstering union membership - oops, I mean "education"

Spotted by accident while flicking through The Australian in the local library, I spotted a tiny article claiming that New South Wales is launching a new initiative called Unionstart, run by Unions NSW, where unionists will go into NSW schools to educate 14 to 18-year-olds about unions.

Unions NSW seems positive that this education program will lift union membership. It complains that union membership among young people is "quite low and ... to the point where it is actually declining." It arrogantly puts that down to a lack of knowledge and understanding, something Unionstart will apparently cure.

In horror I pored through the rest of The Australian newspapers and then attacked the Sydney Morning Herald, but there was nothing more on the topic. Has this breathtaking abuse of a school system, and the privileged access unions get to schoolchildren to bolster their membership under the guise of "education", passed without outcry? Dear god.

Young, impressionable minds will receive this union information, and I doubt it will be objective. Even if unions strive to not overtly recruit, students will not receive a balanced message. What’s the bet that any of the following recent news topics in Australia that reflected badly on the unions will not feature in Unionstart’s campaign:

  • Julia Gillard’s concerns about union men in balaclavas involved in the West Gate Bridge development in Melbourne;
  • Martin Ferguson’s warnings about union excesses in the middle of a global financial crisis; and
  • the reports and royal commissions that uncovered union corruption and intimidation within the building industry

Nevertheless, even if Unions NSW does provide these examples to the students, what right does the NSW Government have to politicise schools? An argument that every child may one day be a worker does not justify  unions entering schools. Yes, there is a reason why fewer workers are joining unions. And Unions NSW is too blinkered and arrogant to realise that it is not a lack of education. It is lack of relevance as more workers prefer negotiate their own terms of employment, rather follow a one-size-fits-all union command.

Schools in Australia and New Zealand are supposed to be secular and apolitical. Imagine the outcry if the Employers and Manufacturers Association were allowed into New Zealand schools to teach kids about the virtues of employer organisations. Or if the Business Roundtable explained to children that financial companies are just poor, misunderstood organisations.  Not that I'm saying the Business Roundtable would say that; my point is they are organisations that represent a particular political view, and, regardless of whether or not we agree with them, they should not be given access to young minds through schools.  There are more appropriate fora than schools for advertising their messages.

When unions dictate government policy, prosperity is always ignored - rich people are stealing from the poor, benefits should be higher, tax the rich, lets have greater subsidies = less money in the pockets for everyone. Somehow, I doubt that will be the lesson taught to NSW school students when Unionstart enters their classroom. I only hope this germ doesn’t enter New Zealand.


coge said...

Looks more like commie start. That's what you get under a Labor government.

PM of NZ said...

Exactly the same problem exists in the workplace when all your 'elf and safety training is provided through union stiffs.