The Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) is concerned about what it says is a lack of facts presented in Labor’s election arguments, particularly around penalty rates and competition policy.
The election status is also creating uncertainty according to COSBOA.
“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,” says COSBOA CEO Peter Strong.
COSBOA points to last month’s Fair Work Commission decision that ruled the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA), a trade union representing workers across the retail, fast food and warehouse industries, organised for its partner companies to pay lower than award rates on weekends to help subsidise its members who work during the week.
“Why a two tiered workplace relations system?” asks Strong. “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.”
Strong also took aim at the Transport Workers Union (TWO), whose membership base is largely employed at transport companies Toll Holdings and Linfox.
“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 said it is also aware that the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) “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,” says Strong.
“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.”