Back when I still punching the clock every day, I was a member of my relevant union. Not because of ideology, but from simple, practical consideration. Union membership brought a raft of benefits, from discount movie tickets to free legal representation. These were the basic worker benefits that unions were supposed to stand for. The political bullshit I more-or-less ignored.
I suspect I was far from alone.
Certainly, we were never asked to vote on any of the union leadership’s political follies. Yet unions persist in pursuing political agendas that are often at stark odds with their rank-and-file members.
If the last election was anything to go by, blue-collar workers have abandoned the political left, and the Labor party especially, in droves.
Still, the union leadership persists in backing the ALP policies that workers so comprehensively rejected.
One of the country’s major blue-collar unions has backed Labor leader Anthony Albanese in the party’s widening rift over climate policy, declaring zero sum battles over coal do not help workers keep their jobs.
The Electrical Trades Union, which represents 60,000 members and has more workers in power generation than any other, said in a letter to Labor’s shadow cabinet that the market was irreversibly shifting towards renewable energy.
This is arrant bollocks, to put it mildly. Renewable energy remains an exceedingly minor contributor to Australia’s energy consumption, at barely 5%. Any “shift” to renewables is almost entirely the result of government distortion of the market – with workers’ tax money.
This is all about left-wing union leaders propping up a failing left-wing Labor leader.
Its intervention comes days after former Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon quit his opposition ministry after a heated clash with Mr Albanese in a meeting over whether the party should back fossil-fuel industries in a play to win back blue-collar voters.
Mr Fitzgibbon’s decision to resign has escalated a climate stoush within the party that it had attempted to cool by endorsing new gas fields and pipelines last month. That move followed a briefing for MPs by the Australian Workers Union and the mining division of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union which put the case that the party should back coal and gas jobs for decades as the economy slowly transitions.
The CFMEU might be one of the nation’s most militant unions, but it also seems to have a better idea where its members’ real interests lie.
The ETU, meanwhile, for all it talks the talk about its members’ jobs, is too busy cosying up to green activists.
Along with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the ETU is a member of the Hunter Jobs Alliance, a group of unions and environmental organisations that aims to support high-paid and secure jobs in renewable industries.
“High-paid and secure”, only so long as the taxpayers’ money keeps rolling in.
Meanwhile, the evidence shows that renewables cost jobs rather than creating them.
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