Michael Stutchbury writes in todays Australian that the new industrial relations laws of the current ALP government have ushered in the return of adversarial politics where workers and employers are pitted against each other.
I would tend to disagree.
Workers and employers are always pitted against each other. Every dollar that the boss pays a worker is one less dollar profit and one less in his own. Yes, yes, I hear all those people out there saying that it isnt a zero sum game and that good bosses will treat staff well to maximise growth and benefits for all. That is true - in part. While good bosses will treat their personnel well, they will only treat them as well as they have too, only as well as they are forced to.
So as important as mutual understanding and shared benefits may be, as real as the notion of long term growth is, that harsh truth is that each and every payday there is only so much money in the kitty and who gets what is decided by who has what power.
As someone who has never been able to join a union and always had to rely on the goodwill of his employer let me tell you that alone you have no power and your employer has it all. That the old union adage that together we bargain, alone we beg is true. And that while company profits are certainly maximised by stripping workers of all power to truly negotiate, giving workers some power through the ability to bargain collectively is the only path to a just workplace.