In a move that will surprise nobody, the Institute of Public Affairs – a free-market think-tank which represents the interests of the rich and powerful – has released a paper calling on their good friends in the Liberal Government to abolish the award system and hand all power over wages to employers.
The IPA is an influential body with many connections to Australia’s elite, and has been used as a mouthpiece for the mega-rich to push anti-worker policy for decades. Some of the world’s most powerful companies regularly donate money to the IPA, including oil giants ExxonMobil and Caltex, mining giant BHP Billiton, and tobacco giants Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco (with clients like these, you won’t be surprised to learn that the IPA thinks climate change doesn’t exist).
It should come as no surprise to any meat workers that the IPA wants to see unions dead and buried (they even adorn the cover page of their new paper with an image of protesting CFMEU members). The IPA is responsible for helping to pass some of Australia’s most damaging laws that have made it harder and harder for workers to stand up for themselves. Now the IPA wants to take a swing at Australia’s award system and slash the minimum wage to as low as it can possibly go.
Out of touch with real Australians
Meat workers in Australia are doing it tough. We’re in the middle of a meat industry crisis, attacked on all sides by live exporters, record cattle shortages, and aggressive employers who want to cut costs at every turn.
Working households in Australia are struggling to make ends meet, as wealthy Australians race ahead to the point where senior executives now earn 150 times what the average Australian earns each week. Public services are failing and being privatised as companies refuse to pay tax and hide their profits in secret offshore accounts.
The average salary of a meat worker in Australia is just $38,000. How can a think-tank which regularly hosts parties attended by people like Gina Rinehart (worth $12.9 billion) and Rupert Murdoch (worth $16.8 billion) possibly comprehend what life is like for the people on the ground? For workers just like you?
Katie and Matt’s stories
We don’t have to look hard to find people in Australia who are doing it tough. Our own members, people like Katie and Matt in northern NSW, are struggling to stay above water in an increasingly difficult economy.
Matt has five kids and only a single income, working every single Saturday so that his family can afford some wiggle room. The loss of family benefits and childcare benefits have hit Matt hard, and he’s worried about what the future holds.
Katie is a single mother with three kids, and she’s particularly worried about the Liberal Government’s plans to slash Medicare payments – something else the IPA is recommending. Without Medicare payments, her son wouldn’t have been able to get treatment for his recent injury, as the money simply isn’t there. How out of touch do you have to be to think that working class people don’t deserve access to support and healthcare?
Working people standing together
Meat workers already know that things are bad under the Liberal Government, and if Turnbull gets his way then things are going to head towards a truly terrifying American model. All working class Australians should be especially concerned, because the IPA actually thinks that Turnbull and the Liberals aren’t going far enough.
Anybody who has studied history will tell you that unregulated industries mean runaway profits for companies while workers are crushed into the dirt and even killed. All of the gains and benefits that working class people enjoy today – the eight-hour day, holiday pay, sick pay, guaranteed minimum wages – these were put in place when workers stood together in unions and fought for their rights.
Multi-million-dollar mouthpieces like the IPA want to take all that away and put working class people ‘back in their place’. This must not be allowed to happen – join your union today and join the fight.