The Executive Director of the Australian Retailers’ Association, Russell Zimmerman, said today that voters had emphatically rejected the ACTU’s “Change the Rules” campaign, and that Saturday’s election result should terminate once and for all moves to give militant unions unfettered control over Australian workplaces.
Commenting today on a media release from ACTU secretary Sally McManus, which described the re-elected Morrison government as “anti-worker” and “regressive,” Mr Zimmerman said that now the votes had been cast, it was time for the ACTU to start behaving responsibly and desist from stoking division and industrial unrest.
“Sally McManus has signalled, in the clearest language possible, that she and her adherents will stop at nothing when it comes to entrenching militant unions at the heart of Australian workplaces,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“The “Change the Rules” campaign was central to the federal election, and voters have said ‘no’,” he added.
Mr Zimmerman said ACTU rhetoric defied reality, and – in signalling a renewed campaign to ignore the laws of the land – McManus did not comprehend that the union agenda was incompatible with the wishes of the public.
“Ms McManus has claimed the Coalition, which was re-elected with a majority of the two-party vote and in all likelihood with outright majority, has no mandate. This is crazy talk,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“Her ‘Change the Rules’ campaign received great attention during the election campaign, along with historical ‘advice’ to her cronies to break whatever laws they disagreed with that has been widely publicised in the media for a couple of years now. Voters have rejected this mad, bad, dangerous formula,” he added.
Mr Zimmerman said it was telling that the ACTU talked about how many millions of votes were cast for its agenda when hundreds of thousands more than that were cast for something else.
“Last time I checked, Australia was a democracy,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“Voters have resoundingly said ‘no’ to the ACTU and its recipe for lawlessness if unions are not permitted to control businesses and workplaces, which a majority clearly does not want,” he continued.
Mr Zimmerman noted workplace changes since the Coalition took office in 2013 – such as Sunday penalty rates in industries such as Retail – had been determined by independent bodies such as the Fair Work Commission – established by a Labor government in response to union demands – and the Productivity Commission.
For Sally McManus to describe this as a ‘regressive agenda’ is not only wrong, it seeks to undermine independent authorities making evidence-based decisions that were set up under the ALP and operate at arms’ length from government,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“Ongoing slogans and name-calling by Trades Hall are not only unproductive, but offer insights into the contempt for democracy and process that clearly motivates militant unions and their leadership,” Mr Zimmerman said.
Mr Zimmerman said the suggestion by Sally McManus that a majority government winning a clear majority of the after-preference public vote ‘had no mandate’ was fatuous, and should be ignored.
“Maybe if Ms McManus made an attempt to engage with retailers – especially small retailers – instead of calling them ‘rich,’ ‘powerful,’ and treating them like the enemy, she would learn conditions have never been so tough for a sector that provides millions of jobs across Australia, particularly for young people and for women,” he said.
Mr Zimmerman said that whilst the ARA welcomed the re-election of the Morrison government for a third term, it was prepared to work with all stakeholders on behalf of Australia’s $320bn retail sector; to this end, the ARA would seek to engage with the ALP as soon as its leadership arrangements had been determined.
We draw a clear distinction between the elected members of the parliamentary Labor Party on the one hand, and militant, lawless unions represented by Ms McManus on the other,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“Given the emphatic defeat of the ALP on a radical, militant industrial agenda cooked up by Trades Hall that has unquestionably been repudiated by the public, our hope is that a dialogue in the interests of retailers with the Labor Party now becomes possible, and this is exactly what we will seek to initiate,” Mr Zimmerman concluded.