The very cosy relationship between Labor and the Unions is costing Victorians a lot of money.
Their symbiosis is based on an ideology that each can make big bucks for the other.
In theory, they like to make it sound more akin to a religious experience and delve into the glories they bestow upon the `worker’ – saving and providing for their common souls.
Like leeches, the two attached themselves to the seemingly bottomless Government financial bucket that both consider their very own.
The red-shirts rorts proved that – so did former Victorian Corrections Minister, Steve Herbert, when he had his Government driver transport his dogs to his country home in his ministerial car.
Or better still, the two ALP city MPs, Telmo Languiller and Don Nardella, who pretended they had country homes and claimed expenses for such.
ALP Members of Parliament are also members of a union.
For example, look at our Western Victoria Region Labor members. Jaala Pulford and Gayle Tierney rose through the union ranks with the same enshrined expectation that a political seat somewhere will become theirs. It’s a Labor rite of passage.
Both used their inaugural speeches to Parliament to cast blessings upon their respective unions. Pulford spoke of the ‘privilege’ of working for 12 years with the National Union of Workers. Tierney’s union tiara shines even brighter – as the State Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union between 1993-2006 and as it’s Federal President between 2000-06.
Such a leader, it’s hard to believe the utter shambles in her current portfolios of Corrections and Training and Skills.
The union affiliation enforces a charade for Labor during EBA negotiations. The Labor pollies pretend to be tough at the table, all the while knowing that the union will get what it wants.
There are consequences in saying no. Election funds are needed. The Union movement provides Labor tens of millions of dollars every year.
And so the back scratch begins.
Just look at the MFB saga and the ugly impact of the United Firefighters Union on the EBA – their members’ heavy presence at polling booths at the last state election and the subsequent treatment of the CFA.
But it worked.
They achieved a pay rise of 19 per cent. Victorians will feel the impact of that next year when the Fire Services Levy will have to be raised to pay for it. It could be more than 40 per cent – but Labor is keeping quiet.
This week, we read of the looming impact of the unions on the West Gate Tunnel project.
Already, this project has gone from $500 million to $6.7 billion and the unions are shaping up to make that bill much, much bigger.
The Australian Workers Union claims contractors will cut wages and conditions for workers on the job. But early indications suggest they will be pocketing at least $150,000 each annually.
Down pens, grabs your overalls and hard hats, there’s money to be made in them there tunnels.
Labor won’t step in just yet. With the state election looming, it wants to stay in the industrial shadows.
Such a grab for cash by the unions does one thing only – pushes the cost of the project up – just as it did for the Wonthaggi desalination plant.
An EBA has also not been struck for the $11 billion Metro Tunnel rail project.
And while these projects are in Melbourne – of course – the financial impacts extend across Victoria.
No matter what anyone says, the people who ultimately pay are you and I.
Private businesses are also hit – they simply can’t match the glorified deals done on state projects with the unions. It makes it harder for small country operators to find good people – and keep good people.
The unions play the public purse as a puppet.
They do similarly with the Premier.
November’s election represents an opportunity to vote for a Liberal National Government that will deliver growth and good management and not just kickbacks to unrepresentative bullies.