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Des Keegan, “Kitchen’s no place for union thuggery,”
The Australian, August 26, 1986, p. 12.

Unions plan to ask industrial commissions to bring in an award for Mum’s work within the marriage contract. This follows success with the babysitters’ award in Hobart.

Most homes will be turned into hovels because only the very rich will earn enough to pay the penalty rates and leave loadings won by union bosses. No pay for Mum means no homework.

This is in harmony with the spirit and the letter of Justice Henry Bourne Higgins’ famous Harvester Award, 1906, in which the good judge, confusing motives with results, spiked industrial relations for 80 years.

Justice Higgins said he would rather an endeavour go broke than pay less than award wages. His fame endures doubly with his Shavian legacy. The name carries a hint of charm in the latter; it smacks of fascism in the former.

The British economist, Lord Harris, called our industrial relations mess “pretend-judicial”. Why not? Only markets set prices efficiently and there’s no end of damage when vain man defy omnipotent forces.

Lord Harris was rather amused to see grown men getting done up like judges in Gilbert and Sullivan charades to deliver verdicts fatuous beyond the soaring fantasies dreamed of for melodrama.

And, no matter how gorgeous and overblown the language of obfuscation in arbitration “courts”, there is no justice. There is no justice because the roles and sanctions only apply to companies. Union thugs do as they please.

There is also no justice because nobody knows what 730,000 businessmen should pay and what 6.7 million workers should expect. That’s why our dollar is in collapse; managers must manage.

We have an economic slump because half of us bludge and, what’s more, unions will not let us work properly. Economics comes from a Greek word for housekeeping and I’m amazed unions didn’t organise marriage and household sooner.

Marriage unions within unions is but a matter of time after the Miscellaneous Workers Award became operative for babysitters on July 9. This sets rates for our full-time, part-time and casual babysitters. I’ll cite the Burnie Advocate.

If you employ a 16-year-old girl to babysit your child on a Saturday from 7pm until midnight, you now are liable to pay her $59.90. There will be no jobs at that price but this is no concern to its authors, boofheads all. Nevertheless, it exists and threatens.

The casual award rate for a lass is 55 per cent of the adult rate of $258.80. Casuals get one 38th of the weekly rate for each our they spend raiding your refrigerator while your baby son sticks his finger in the three-bar radiator.

But, hark, heed the Tasmanian vandal; there is an extra 33 per cent for no reason at all and double time applies on Saturday.

The Advocate says the award lays down industry wages and conditions on householders for employing people on domestic duties. The Department of Labour and Industry will investigate complaints of underpayment or other reputed breaches of the award.

If it finds a babysitter has not been paid according to the award the department can ask a householder to pay the amount owing and still may prosecute. Court fines of up to $1000 could be imposed.

People who employ someone to do domestic duties or as a gardener now are required to have a copy of the award available for the person to read. They have to keep time and wages records and deduct workers’ compensation insurance.

The Miscellaneous Workers Award broke new ground for the Tasmanian Industrial Commission. It is the first award not based on a particular industry.

Tasmania is wrestling with the need to sack 400 public servants to live within its budget. It would do the island and the nation a power of good if it sacked the Industrial Commission and threw the labour market open. Why pay people to destroy jobs?

But the sheer stupidity of this meddling illustrates the real face of unionism; it is a grubby little world where grubby little people organise others into compulsory unionism. It’s cannon fodder for political ambitions or simply the high life for low talents.

Minimum wages for children already legislate them out of jobs and set in train a vicious chain of events. Children leave school because there is a State bribe, the dole; parents lose control; the community fills with uneducated people.

Another sad tale lies with Aboriginal stockmen who were put out of work by minimum wages; this was reinforced with the other blade, the dole. Now much of the interior Aboriginal population lives in town on handouts. Idle hands and the dole have left a sorry legacy.

Now we have simple-minded people rounding up little girls who are too young to know that they are being exploited by fools.

We have scant hope of putting paid to this nonsense while we have as Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, who led a campaign of civil disobedience in the 1970s against civilised industrial behaviour. He is the same man.

Arbitration and unions, founded in equity and hope for workers, ignoring all experience, come to rest like Edmund Burke’s French monarchy at the Revolution. Their interference is everywhere and has sunk to the level of meddling imbecility.