Monday, 31 October 2011

Big Money, Big Business and Unions

If you are watching TV or reading the news from anywhere around the world, you will know by now that Qantas has cancelled all flights and grounded them until an agreement is struck between management, workers and unions.

Meanwhile, passengers are stuck all around the world waiting to be redirected to new flights to get them to where they need to be.

What is happening with Qantas is VERY relevant to what is happening around the world in any large global organisation. Qantas cannot compete internationally and would like to move their base of operations offshore to another country.

Essentially, what this means is simply lowering their labour costs by getting rid of thousands of Australian jobs which results in a significant loss in tax revenue for the government.

If a business is losing money and cannot compete globally, I understand that in order to survive and to prosper, moving offshore may be the only option. 

Let me begin by saying that politically, I am not an extreme right winger, nor do I lean to the far left. This is sadly just a case where a business cannot compete and it is reflected by the low share (stock) price, overpaid executives and employees, and poor customer service.

Any successful business with a healthy, positive business model will make a profit for its shareholders, remunerate all their employees fairly and reward customers with excellent service or products. This is a win-win-win situation.

If a business does not abide by this business model, chances are likely that there is definitely something wrong somewhere.

History has shown that unions are formed because of employers who do not value or care for
their employees.

In the motor industry especially, most companies are unionised because employees are paid low wages and have poor working conditions. Management will spend as little money as possible on workers whilst expecting maximum productivity and making enormous profits at any cost.

Working at a dealership which did not have unionised employees, I saw many workers treated unfairly, paid low wages and working under stressful, unhealthy conditions. As you can imagine, the turnover of staff was high. Every month there would be a new employee hired because another employee has decided to leave.

I did not see the warning signs at first because I was often driving and making deliveries. However, after the GFC (global financial crisis) hit in 2008, I noticed that staff who were employed long term were occasionally leaving. Why?

From working in other companies, I know that employees in family businesses were always rewarded with pay rises in line with profits.

What disappointed me most working at a car dealership was despite the enormous profits (millions upon millions of dollars) being made, only management received pay increases, whilst employees received little to none. This ultimately led to me leaving the dealership because it was a business practice I did not support or agree with since I believe in sharing of profits fairly.

I wholeheartedly support business making profits but I do not believe it is fair that profits are not shared with the people who contribute to the success of a business.

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