Attitudes towards unions

Dec 10, 2019

Q. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about unions?

  NET: Agree NET: Disagree Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Unsure
Union officials should be disqualified for breaching administrative laws such as failing to file annual financial reports 68% 18% 30% 38% 13% 5% 14%
The government seems to be more concerned about the actions of union officials than the CEO’s of banks and other corporations 62% 24% 29% 34% 18% 6% 14%
Union officials should be disqualified for taking unprotected industrial action, such as snap strikes 51% 32% 20% 31% 22% 10% 17%
Overall unions have too much power in Australia today 49% 37% 18% 31% 24% 13% 14%
  • Two-thirds of participants agree that ‘union officials should be disqualified for breaching administrative laws such as failing to file annual financial reports’ (68%) and 62% agree that the government seems to be more concerned about the actions of union officials than the CEO’s of banks and other corporations.
  • Half of participants agree that union officials should be disqualified for taking unprotected industrial action, such as snap strikes (51%) and 49% agree that overall unions have too much power in Australia today.
  • Capital city residents are more likely than non-capital city residents to agree that overall unions have too much power in Australia today, with 53% of capital city and 41% of non-capital city residents agreeing with the statement.
  • Broadly, Coalition voters and those over 55 years old were most likely to agree with statements that are more negative towards unions.

Importance of unions

May 20, 2013

Q. And how important are unions for Australian working people today?

 

19 Mar 2012

10 Sept 12

Total

20 May 13

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Work full time

Work part time

Total important

56%

52%

56%

80%

38%

70%

54%

57%

Total not Important

35%

38%

36%

12%

59%

23%

39%

36%

Very important

19%

16%

21%

35%

8%

38%

18%

26%

Quite important

37%

36%

35%

45%

30%

32%

36%

31%

Not very important

27%

28%

24%

11%

36%

18%

25%

27%

Not at all important

8%

10%

12%

1%

23%

5%

14%

9%

Don’t know

9%

10%

8%

7%

3%

7%

7%

7%

The majority of respondents regarded unions to be important for Australian working people today (56%), whilst 36% believe that they were not important.  Belief that they are important increased 4 points from 52% in September 2012 to 56% in this week’s results.

80% of Labor voters and 70% of Greens voters believed that unions were important for Australian working people today, while Coalition voters were the most likely to regard unions as not important (59%).

The majority of full time workers (54%) and part time workers (57%) regarded unions as important for Australian working people today.

 

Unions in Australia

Sep 10, 2012

Q. Overall, do you think unions have been good or bad for Australian working people? 

 

19 Mar 2012

This week 10 Sept 12

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Work full time

Work part time

Total good

48%

45%

67%

30%

74%

47%

51%

Total bad

17%

20%

4%

36%

6%

22%

18%

Very good

12%

11%

20%

4%

28%

11%

12%

Good

36%

34%

47%

26%

46%

36%

39%

Neither good nor bad

28%

27%

24%

30%

13%

25%

21%

Bad

11%

12%

3%

20%

5%

12%

11%

Very bad

6%

8%

1%

16%

1%

10%

7%

Don’t know

6%

8%

6%

4%

7%

5%

9%

The largest portion of respondents polled believe that overall, unions have been good for Australian working people (45% total good), whilst a fifth of respondents (20%) felt that they had been bad for working people.   Results have moved slightly since the last time the question was polled in March 2012, with those respondents regarding unions as good dropping from 48% to 45% and those regarding them as bad rising the equivalent amount from 17% to 20% in the same period.

Looking at the results by voting intention, Greens voters were by the most likely to believe that unions had been good for working people (74%), whilst Coalition voters were by far the most likely to believe that unions had been bad for Australian working people (36%).

The majority of part time workers believed that unions had been good for Australian working people (51%) compared with 47% of full time workers.

Better or worse off with stronger unions

Sep 10, 2012

Q. Overall, would workers be better off or worse off if unions in Australia were stronger?

 

Total

Vote Labor

Vote Lib/Nat

Vote Greens

Work full time

Work part time

Total better off

39%

58%

24%

71%

40%

40%

Total worse off

30%

17%

47%

9%

35%

24%

A lot better off

13%

24%

7%

20%

15%

13%

A little better off

26%

34%

17%

51%

25%

27%

A little worse off

15%

13%

20%

5%

16%

12%

A lot worse off

15%

4%

27%

4%

19%

12%

Make no difference

15%

12%

18%

7%

16%

15%

Don’t know

15%

14%

12%

13%

9%

21%

The largest portion of respondents felt that workers would be better off if unions in Australia were stronger (39%), followed by 30% of respondents that believed workers would be worse off (30%).  Fifteen percent (15%) felt that it would make no difference.

Looking at the results by voting intention, Greens voters were the most likely to believe that workers would be better off (71%), whilst Coalition voters were by far the most likely to believe that workers would be worse off (47%).

Whilst the same portion of full time workers and part time workers felt that workers would be better off (both 40%), full time workers were more likely to believe that workers would be worse off if unions were stronger (35%) compared to part time workers (24%).

The Big Foot of Unions Fits A Smaller Slipper

Aug 13, 2012

Judging by the fear-mongering, anti-union rhetoric spilling out of the mouths of business and the Coalition, you would think that unions are a massive power, with a majority presence in every corner of the workforce. But, the intensity of the rhetoric only tell us one thing: how determined anti-union forces are to destroy the basic standard of living of every work.

What brings this to mind this morning is a column by Ross Gittins on the Fair Work Australia decision in the Qantas dispute. While I do not agree with Gittins’ conclusion that the Transport Workers Union’s actions were, in his words, “bloody-minded”, he does make a much more cogent point on the hysteria coming from the anti-union quarters:

Read too much of their stuff and you come away thinking the union movement has risen from its death bed to pose the greatest threat to our continued prosperity. Remember, union membership is down to 18 per cent of the workforce (from 50 per cent in 1982) and 14 per cent of private-sector workers.

Another figure to keep in mind when you read about the union monster poised to eat the economy’s lunch: more than 80 per cent of enterprises don’t have a union presence.

Two labour lawyers, Dr Anthony Forsyth, of Monash University, and Professor Andrew Stewart, of Adelaide University, note in their submission to the Fair Work review that ”the concerns about union activities that so animate certain employers in the resources, manufacturing and construction sectors are very far removed from the issues confronting businesses in other parts of the economy”.

Truth is, many more workers are covered by collective agreements than are union members—but employers overstate union power for political gain. The real issue is: bosses can’t have it both ways—either the unions are weak or an irresistible force. Make your choice, fellow.

So, when you hear the anti-union forces pontificating about the huge power of unions, remember that really this is a cover for a different agenda: business and the Coalition wants to destroy unions as a force and to extract every dollar possible from working people and put it in the pockets of the elite.


@jonathantasini

Who Cares About Violence? Workers A Whole Lot More Than Politicians

Jul 19, 2012

It is always a source of humor– dark humor, to be sure — that the traditional media is way, way behind the curve when it comes to understanding a story, particularly when it involves unions. So, you know how all those politicians are now rushing around, wringing their hands about the recent violence in King’s Cross? Well, hello, unions have been way ahead of the curve here.

Two years ago– TWO YEARS AGO — a coalition of unions representing doctors, nurses, paramedics and police officers demanded that politicians act to stop alcohol-fuelled violence. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why: those front-line workers have to deal with the violence and it’s an occupational hazard. While politicians– the same ones rushing to the microphones now — sit home in comfort, its the union workers who have to transport injured people to hospitals, stitch up the wounds, and restore order in the streets.

The campaign, called Last Drinks, was pretty clear about what needed to be done:

The coalition believes strongly in evidence-based policy solutions.  And the evidence shows that the most effective way to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in the Australian context is by placing restrictions on the late night sale of alcohol.  In particular, the recent experience in Newcastle has shown a sustained decrease in the number of night-time assaults of over 30 per cent – which was achieved after a number of restrictions were placed on licensed venues in the Newcastle CBD.  These restrictions include:

  • 3am closing time for all venues;
  • Lock-outs at venues from 1.30 am; and
  • Restrictions on the sale of high-alcohol content drinks (such as shots) after 10pm.

By the way, it’s already worked, as you can see from this news report:

The Last Drinks coalition, a group of union-led police, doctors and nurses, says the measures have helped reduce late-night violence since being introduced in Newcastle.

‘We know what works – a suite of simple measures like reduced trading hours and lock-outs,’ Police Association of NSW president Scott Weber said.

So, here you have one shining example of the wiseness and knowledge of workers, and the union leaders who represent them, on the one hand, versus the short-sited rantings of craven politicians, on the other hand. If it wasn’t for ideology– meaning, why should we listen to unions? — politicians might have listened to the people leading the Last Drinks campaign, and, maybe, just maybe, one young man, Thomas Kelly, would still be alive, and a lot more people would have returned home to sleep in their beds, with no injuries other than a bit of a hangover.


@jonathantasini

Bias in Media Reporting

Jun 18, 2012

Q. Overall, do you think media reporting is biased in favour or against the following groups?

 

Biased in favour

Biased against

Not biased

Don’t know

Net score

Business groups

27%

14%

29%

30%

+13

The Liberal Party

26%

22%

26%

26%

+4

Large corporations

26%

25%

23%

27%

+1

Environment groups

22%

25%

26%

27%

-3

The Greens

19%

27%

27%

27%

-8

Religious groups

14%

24%

32%

30%

-10

The Labor Party

18%

31%

26%

25%

-13

Unions

18%

32%

23%

26%

-14

Net score = bias in favour minus bias against.

Overall, respondents think that media reporting is biased in favour of business groups and biased against unions, the Labor Party and religious groups. They were evenly divided over whether media reporting is biased for or against the Liberal Party, large corporations, and environment groups.

Among Labor voters, 50% think the media are biased against the Labor Party and 43% think they are biased in favour of the Liberal Party.

Among Coalition voters, 34% think the media are biased against the Liberal Party and 29% think they are biased in favour of the Labor Party.

57% of Greens voters think the media are biased against the Greens.

Why would anyone join a union?

May 15, 2012


Ged Kearney says the union movement needs to emphasise its achievements rather than letting others focus on the negatives.

As the ACTU Congress meets this week, the HSU East and Craig Thomson affairs continue to dominate the political landscape.

But ACTU President Ged Kearney says Congress will be focusing on the future and the policies which make the work place — and society – fairer.

She tells 3Q that even though union membership has dropped, thousands of people join unions every year. With an increasingly casualised workforce, Kearney says unions are needed more than ever.

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