Of foremost importance, it must be readily conceded, that these workers are already some of the best paid workers in Australia, considering their education, skill and responsibilities. Looking at the EBA's from 2001 to 2007 I find the following:
Operator Level 1
2001 $903 including regular allowances for a 7 hr day/ 35hr week.
2007 $1017/wk including same allowances.
It is clear from these figures that relatively unskilled people are being paid an extrordinary wage for only 7 hour days. Looking at the overtime situation, it could be said that they are working in a gold mine rather than a port.
FYI .. my wife earns around $600/week in a factory in Melbourne.
It is also clear, judging from the present dispute in 2013 that the process of Unions demanding 'more bigger better' is an unending one. The increments of nearly 5% per year are in excess of the CPI..though I see the increments are capped at 4% in the latest downloadable EBA.
The problem you (PWCS) face is this: there are three elements to the industrial relations situation that must without fail be born in mind.
i) is when workers are being exploited by an enterprise, and kept working in terrible conditons with miserably low wages. (this is not the case with PWCS, because your workers are being paid excellent remuneration)
ii) This usually leads to the attempts by Labor Unions to organize the workers in the interests of improving conditions.
iii)That in turn, leads to a 'reactionary' approach by Management. A kind of hurried damage control to get the flow of work back quickly without costly delays. In this case, the enterprise is not interested in the genuine welfare of the workers, but in it's bottom line alone.
THE LINE THAT IS CROSSED. This might seem like dangerous territory to venture into, but I have learned some most interesting lessons from the writings of a particular high profile European leader of days gone by... where the following observations were made by him during his efforts to renew his own nation.
a) Union thuggery is prevalent on work sites:
When I was twenty years old I had learned to distinguish between the Trades Union as a means of defending the social rights of the employees and fighting for better living conditions for them and, on the other hand, the Trades Union as a political instrument used by the Party in the class struggle.
In Australian industrial relations, the above quote is partly true.. Unions like the ETU and MUA and CFMEU have long ago crossed from the genuine welfare and better living conditions, and they have either bypassed the 'class war' phase and gone straight to rampant greed phase. It appears today that the only classes involved are the well paid Union workers and the lower paid non Union workers. I use the term 'lower' rather than 'poorly' deliberately. In industries (such as the highly competitive one my wife works in) are on an economic knife edge. It would not take too much more in 'cost base' to tilt the feelings of ownership to abandon the good ship Australia and jump into the lifeboat of China. I understand this, and am happier to have regular reliable income than a short term jump where job security is sacrificed.
So once the line between genuine welfare and 'gluttonous greed' has been crossed, it is incumbent on the enterprise to deal with this situation as if it were a war! The reason is...that Unions by their DNA cannot stop demanding more, bigger and better, or their leaders would be voted out by selfish workers when someone else comes along to promise them the same. So this whole arrangement of Unions/Enterprise being in adversarial tension is self defeating and has only one logical end.. ie.. where one segment of the community (Unionized workers) are the new 'big end' of Collins street and the rest, including teachers and the such like..languish on much lower pay for much more skilled work. That cannot be and is not good for a healthy community.
SOLUTION. Thus, the Enterprise such as PWCS needs to take a "whole of business" approach. If it considers that it can continue paying ever increasing amounts in accordance with Union demands, and pass those costs on to customers and never feel any 'bite' from the buyers who are always weighing up alternative sources of supply....then, it lives in fanstasy land. That end is a dismal one for all.. with all losing their jobs.
The Union must be replaced. The enterprise must firstly disconnect the workforce from the Union. If this proves not possible for reasons of ingrained work practices and irrational loyalty to the Union, and misguided views about 'the workers united will never be defeated' then the Enterprise must seek workable solutions from employing a different workforce.
In this case.. Aussie workers would be the most appropriate choice, but if that simply means a repeat of the old situation...then overtures to government must be made whereby 457 visa's for skilled and experienced o'seas workers should be sought and the work force replaced en masse, with the exception of those who are willing to sign on to the new terms and conditions.
Now this is a most crucial juncture.. Such a move must never ever be seen or viewed as a licence to print money off the backs of exploited workers because "Now we have the power" so to speak.
It was the conditions cited above which resulted in the mass demonstrations and success (at first) of the communists in this region. Marches of up to 100,000 workers were being orchestrated effectively. In once case a Jewish Unionist Kurt Eisner, managed to agitate a crowd of workers.. call for the abdication of the Monarch and then declared Bavaria a "Soviet Socialist Republic" and himself as it's Premier! This could not have happened if the 'Dazzling Riches/loathesome destitution' factor was not so intensely present in the society.
The enterprise must offer good conditions that are not exceeding the bounds of reasonableness for the work done and it's value and they should not be less than this. Experience shows, that certain people with marxist political ideology will seek to suggest to workers of any time and place that they are in fact being exploited. Countermeasures must be taken to protect workers from these insidious influences. Information is the best weapon for this.
Obviously, no union would accept such a usurping of their jealously guarded power (and privilege).. and as with the Coal Strike under Chifley, it might develop into a face of with military forces to quell the anger and rage of such ideologically driven Unionists. Poverty is a good teacher, and once the Unions are completely disconnected, time will tame them but eternal vigilance will still be needed.
You might have realized or begun thinking about the source of the quotes above. I have deliberately neglected to provide a source, but you can copy some text and google it. You might be shocked.
But the one thing I have taken to heart is this.. even evil men can have wise perspectives on some things and on the issue of dealing with Unions and Marxists...this man certainly answered the questions in a forthright manner. Not only did he solve that problem, he first analysed it correctly. Only a correct analysis is the foundation for cohesive and effective action.
Jesse Jackson once said.."We are not a perfect people.. and we are not a perfect party, but we do have a perfect mission" This is true of much history... many perfect missions can be derailed by the uncertainties of life and chance, by abhorrent ideologies and by the influence of unexpected players. Such is life.
Acrust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
And never a laugh but the moans come double;
And that is life! (Paul Laurence Dunbar)
For me personally.. I look to a greater solution for all of this... it is a solution to the fundamental condition of the human heart.. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is desperately sick: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9) Utlimately, until we see ourselves as part of a body, interdependent and mutually supportive, and are individually renewed.. no human solution to problems will be successful in an enduring way. New systems rarely solve the problem of unrenewed minds. I encourage each reader to consider the claims of Christ. "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by me"...not a popular message in an era where the catch cry of the day is 'inclusive'...but Jesus spoke about a day coming when sheep and goats will be separated... he claimed to be the Good Shepherd, the Light of the world, the True Vine, the Resurrection and the life.. and died for our sin. His claims on us are total. We owe Him all we are and have. "If any man would follow me...let him deny himself" "Self" is the cause of industrial relations problems..from the bosses to the workers.. "self".. me first.. me second and me all the way. "He" is the solution, and 'we' are the problem.
HONOURS STUDENTS.... "Towards principles of a National Renewal movement for Australia"