Australian workers are starting to realise that unions do not stand for them, because it is glaringly obvious that these organisations are more interested in furthering their political aims rather than act with fairness and justice. This was made clear when Sally McManus, the new Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), made statements that even put off the consistently leftist Leigh Sales during a 7.30 interview.
The first woman to hold the position, McManus said on 7.30 that she agreed with unions and workers breaking unjust laws: “I believe in the rule of law where the law is fair and the law is right, but when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.” Basically, she agrees with the rule of law only when she feels like it. Not only does this show a gross lack of responsibility, it can also dangerously encourage more unions and workers to break the law as they will.
What’s more, Senator Richard Di Natale has come out in support of McManus and her comments. The Greens leader unsurprisingly said, “These are unjust laws and we say to people, the one thing you have is your labour and you cannot withdraw your labour, then you have the right to stand up and say ‘that’s wrong’”. He has again flaunted his ability to misunderstand reality and use emotional appeal to encourage recklessness and criminal activity. You do have the right to stand up and disagree, but that does not include breaking the law, and as a result destroying the reputations and livelihoods of Australian workers by encouraging them to do so.
It centred on the question of whether the ACTU will distance itself from the CFMEU which was facing 118 legal proceedings “where it’s been found to have either broken the law or acted in contempt of court”, as Sales stated. McManus was quick to take the CFMEU’s side by saying she agreed with it breaking the law during several occasions because “our current laws are wrong”. Along with her opinion that the laws are “unjust”, her current take that it’s ok to break the law seems like a very arbitrary stance for an individual at her level.
A common thing with leftists is that the law can be “unjust” even in the most trivial of ways. What’s to stop unions and their members from behaving recklessly by using irrational feelings as a reason to break the law if their own leader is encouraging them? You would expect a responsible person to make clear their disagreements with the law without actually encouraging criminal activity. But as far as it goes for McManus and Di Natali, you’d be wrong.
It’s this sort of arbitrary and irrational thinking, along with a steady reliance on emotional appeal, that takes away the left’s credibility. In fact, Bill Shorten himself openly disagreed with these remarks due to the sheer recklessness that characterised them. He rightly stated that “If you think the law is unjust or unfair, then you change the law…not break the law”. For the first time in forever, the Opposition Leader has actually said something constructive. Encouraging others to break the law simply shows your indifference towards the rule of law, and thankfully the Opposition Leader possesses enough competence to see that.
Other politicians were also quick to criticise McManus’ claims. Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg stated that there was no need to “break the law of the land in order to pursue your political objectives here”, while Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne labelled her comments “Anarcho-Marxist clap trap”.
McManus has since explained her position by saying that it is an Australian worker tradition to break the law to suit their needs. Apart from sounding like a Marxist revolutionary, she seems to have a serious misconception of Australian traditions. No, Sally McManus, breaking the law is not an Australian tradition. To make it worse, the fact that the leader of an organisation meant to represent Australian workers has compared the latter to criminals makes it no wonder why unions are becoming less and less popular. Such a display of one’s ability to be so out of touch and downright insulting to Australian workers explains the current problems facing the country’s unions, and subsequently the phenomenon of decreasing union membership.
It is easy to see why trade unions are irrelevant to Australian workers simply based on the fact that furthering their political aims and, ironically their finances, are much more important than their supposed role to be there for their members. If this was wrong, then its representatives wouldn’t be blurting out such politically-motivated and hubristic claims that put Australian workers at the same level as criminals. Economic freedom is important, and one cannot honourable preach economic freedom by going against people’s right to take industrial action and form voluntary employee organisations. However, if such organisations show gradual corruption driven by reckless Socialist leaders and Greens senators who encourage criminal activity, the future of trade unions must be scrutinised.