Today, Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) expressed its concern about the election status, which is creating uncertainty. In particular, the lack of facts presented in the arguments of the Labor Party.
Over the course of the campaigning period promises have been made, but COSBOA is concerned that Labor has won votes on false arguments and information, particularly around penalty rates and competition policy, says the association’s CEO, Peter Strong.
“We are concerned that the Labor Party is embracing the needs of a few big unions and their big business partners, where most union members are to be found,” said Mr. Strong.
Left unchecked, big business and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA), a trade union representing workers across the retail, fast food and warehouse industries, will see Australia’s productivity and standard of living fall, warns COSBOA.
Last month, it was ruled by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that the SDA organised for its partner companies to pay lower than award rates on weekends to help subsidise its members who work during the week, leaving students and other weekend workers, who are desperate for extra income, out in the cold. It also meant that the only people who pay high penalty rates on weekends are small business people.
Mr Strong continues: “Why a two tiered workplace relations system? It’s because the unions continue to influence policy to their favour, thereby meaning the ALP continues to support big business, even though that’s to the detriment of everyone else – employees and small businesses.”
COSBOA also adds that it’s not just the SDA guilty of influencing the Government to pander to the needs of big business; it’s also the likes of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which has most of its members in two major transport companies, Toll Holdings and Linfox.
Mr Strong adds: “These two companies are intent on forcing owner drivers off the road, through actions such as the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration, which sets national minimum payments for certain contractor drivers in the road transport industry, specifically small business people, making competition even more difficult.”
COSBOA is also aware that the CFMEU (the construction union) is well connected with non-Australian construction companies – Multiplex, John Holland Group, CIMIC (Leighton) – who want to limit access to work by sub-contractors and non-union labour.
“Interestingly, if the ALP embraced some good small business policies, changes to competition law, such as enacting the Effects Test, and increasing the threshold for definition of a small business to $10m straightway, then there is a good chance they would have picked up a few more votes and formed government.
“Instead, they’ve followed Union orders, which does not give all ‘a fair go’ or act in the spirit of competition. Let’s hope the ALP revisits their small business policies, lest they fail the economy and fail workers,” finished Mr Strong.
This week, 6 – 8 July, these issues will be raised with small business representatives, government and industry leaders in Brisbane at the COSBOA’s Vodafone National Small Business Summit.
The premier policy event will ensure that the voice of small business is heard and work to safeguard this community of more than 3 million small businesses, making sure the needs of small business people are front and centre.