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Unions’ push for information could spell disaster, says Employment Minister

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HC Online | 21 Apr 2015, 10:56 AM Agree 0
The Employment Minister has said that the success of a union drive for access to companies’ financial information could be “disastrous” for employers.
  • Joan | 21 Apr 2015, 12:18 PM Agree 0
    In exchange for Company financial information, how about Unions be forced to disclose how many Union Members they have at a site? Might change their mind when the tables are turned.
    • AR | 24 Apr 2015, 12:18 PM Agree 0
      That information was readily available to all employers back in the day when union fees were deducted straight from an employees paycheck. John Howard decided to make life a little bit more difficult for unions and their members when he made it compulsory for union members to make their payments direct to unions and members had to make direct debits through the banking system which of course nowadays incurs a cost. Its difficult for management to turn the tables if they are not willing to sit at it and negotiate openly.
  • SD | 21 Apr 2015, 12:21 PM Agree 0
    Employers cannot always be trusted to tell the truth? And unions? I've worked with unions for a long time & I can assure you many "confidential" conversations occur, proving up who leaked the info should make for an interesting experience. I work for a public business with ASX requirements in terms of notifying markets on financials, forecasts etc before others. There is not a chance on God's green earth that with or without a confidentiality agreement that we would trust ANYONE with financial information - never mind unions. How do they maintain confidentiality during the bargaining process when their view on what the company can/can't afford is derived from the confidential information? How do they explain that to their members? Given unions play from a socialist perspective, I would say if you're making a profit of any kind then you can afford to pay whatever % increases they're looking for. I am yet to meet a union official of any level of seniority with experience in running a business or financial acumen. They tend to have made their way through the ranks and often have no tertiary education. Being promoted is generally about how long you've been around. On that basis, how do they make an educated assessment of any financial data provided to them in a snapshot in time?

    We pay some of the highest wages in the world, cost of goods and the overall cost of doing business is becoming unaffordable for many business and off shoring of jobs will continue. Perhaps unions need to spend more time protecting their members from a lack of general affordability with government. This appears to be the reason why they are pushing for such increases & consequently the root cause of the problem. Dealing with the symptom of lack of affordability with a band-aid solution of continuing to increase wages has a fast approaching ceiling.
  • MM | 21 Apr 2015, 01:17 PM Agree 0
    If an employer is negotiating an EA and telling employees and their representatives that they "can't afford" an increase (even a reasonable one) rather than "we don't want to give you" an increase - then there should be something that backs up that statement.

    I don't know how a company can transparently act in good faith and refuse to support their own statements with accurate data.
  • SD | 21 Apr 2015, 04:32 PM Agree 0
    I totally get where you're coming from. I've been on both sides - A Team Member affected by an EBA & now I negotiate them.
    However the view of "I can't afford it", vs "I don't want to" is a too simplistic a way to look at the issue. The level of information being asked for will only show that a business is (or isn't) making a profit. Running a business is a tad more complex. A companies ability to trade day to day comes with expectations from investors & banks which require operating costs to be contained & increased profits year on year. Profits are eaten up in a single swoop by ANY increase in operating costs. At this very moment, the drop in Australian dollar, increased costs of doing business overseas (as they trade in US dollar) & a minimum of 3% increases in EBA's is literally wiping millions of a bottom line. I have colleagues describing that impact to their business in double digit millions. Their businesses are still making a profit but all manner of complications with investors and banks with some not sure whether either or both will continue to back their business. I may want to provide a pay increase but 1% is never good enough. What I REALLY want is to have continued backing by a bank or investors. Without that you won't get a pay increase... you may not have a job.
  • Jo | 27 Apr 2015, 01:39 PM Agree 0
    I'm amazed at how trusting some of the posters here are. A company can claim it does not have the money for a pay rise, but is this real or contrived, such as the aggressive taxation arrangements for multi-nationals. Imagine how this article would read if you took out the references to pay and EBAs and substituted corporate tax arrangements. Do you still think transparency is a luxury rather than necessity?
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