Strength through suffering

Judith Sloane believes that “Work Choices has, contrarily, been a boon for the union movement”, by providing it with something to campaign against (“Work choices ‘fear’ a boon for lifting union ranks”, The Australian, 29/6). For the same reason, she argues that “a Coalition government may help the trade unions organically rebuild their membership base”. Accepting that adversity is so salutary, it is tempting to make the complementary suggestion that business efficiency be stimulated by, say, a stricter tax regime!

Her new-found concern for union viability prompts Ms Sloane to offer the following advice: “Rather than rely on favourable laws, regulations and appointments, they will do this by offering relevant and valuable services to members”. What she has missed is that winning those very laws and regulations is one of the most valuable services that unions provide, not only to their paid-up members, but to all other Australian workers for free.

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