Because you killed all of them

Robin Williams once told a story about when he was interviewed on a German television show.  Williams was asked why he thought there was not so much comedy in Germany.  Williams retort was to ask “did you ever think that you killed all the funny people“.

It is in this context that Spartacus is amazed at the latest “living wage” campaign being undertaken by the ACTU.    According to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

We are rapidly moving towards the creation of an American-style working poor. A class of people who barely keep their heads above water, despite working full time, sometimes in multiple jobs.

Where did all the good paying Australian jobs go?  Perhaps Ms McManus, the ACTU and its affiliate unions consider that they you killed all the good paying jobs.  And not just through their own direct campaigns, but also through the union movements’ political wings – the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Greens and GetUp! – entities receiving generous financial support and propagating anti-productivity public policy from renewable energy to tax increases to capital mal-investment (school halls, non-built roads, overpriced infrastructure).

Australian manufacturing jobs are disappearing every second, and even lower paying service jobs are being replaced by technology.  Why?  Because the cost of operating a business and the total cost of labour in Australia makes it just too uneconomic for these jobs to remain.  But this is not about salaries per-se.  This is about the TOTAL cost of employing people including, but not limited to:

  • inflexible work practices
  • complex industrial relations systems
  • unfair dismissal laws
  • workers compensation

Add on top of this, world leading record electricity costs, every expanding regulations and ever increasing taxes.  Not to mention regular calls for more and more public holidays.

That Australia has notionally record low unemployment levels is completely misleading.  According to the ABS, for the purpose of employment statistics, a person is considered employed if they are over the age of 15 and were in paid or self employment for 1 hour during the measurement period.  Such a measure does not factor in what people are actually paid and whether they are working as many hours as they would like.

For the same reason Ms McManus would not pay $50 for a $10 sandwich, businesses won’t pay employees more than they are worth.  If employers are forced to pay more for employees that they offer in productivity, then a rational employer (ie not a government employer) will be forced to regrettably let said employee go.

What better case study that the Unilever/Streets Ice cream situation, where according to public reporting:

The average annual wage of a Streets production worker at Minto is $105,000 a year. This is not a king’s ransom, especially in Sydney, but it is, according to calculations done by the union, 46 per cent above the relevant award wage, which is the legal minimum. It is also 46 per cent more than someone who wants to start an ice cream business and compete with Streets is required to pay, and that is the fundamental problem.

$105,000 is also 45% more that the $72,500 average salary of a mechanical engineer in Australia.

But in the context of a global marketplace:

a frozen Streets Magnum ice cream can be imported from Europe with a total landed cost of 30 per cent less than what it can be made for here.

and

The company says it needs a significant increase in flexibility and that wages will be preserved, and are not needing to be slashed, but costs must be addressed. If this can’t be achieved the plant will close.

So rather than try to work with the employer to find ways to make the business competitive, what does the ACTU and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union seek to do?  Undertake a campaign to attack the revenues of the Streets at the same time as they are attaching the expenses of Streets.  And they bring in their resident stunt-master, Senator Sam the Stunt-Man Dastyari.

If the Streets plant in Minto closes and any other Australian manufacturing plant closes, the unemployed workers should ask their union representatives who actually killed their jobs.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

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54 Responses to Because you killed all of them

  1. Tel

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hold-up_problem

    The purpose of building capital is to make labour hours more productive, and then after those labour hours are highly productive, we can then squabble over whether the spoils go to the worker, or to the capitalist.

    However, if it becomes well understood that anyone owning capital has a target painted on them, and will be held to ransom, the incentive to create more capital rapidly diminishes. This is why I keep banging on about everyone moaning over how important foreign investment is to Australia… foreign investment is not the problem, we are a wealthy nation, we have plenty of potential to invest for ourselves, we just don’t want to do that because we all know there’s a Hold Up Problem, that leaves us begging on the foreign markets for investment (and shhhh we won’t tell him what’s going to happen to his money, shhhhh).

  2. struth

    That Australia has notionally record low unemployment levels is completely misleading. According to the ABS, for the purpose of employment statistics, a person is considered employed if they are over the age of 15 and were in paid or self employment for 1 hour during the measurement period. Such a measure does not factor in what people are actually paid and whether they are working as many hours as they would like.

    Exactly, but just on a side issue to this , away from the thrust of the post, I would add that taking in public service and government contract employment out of the picture would see a frightening reality check.

  3. Adelagado

    As a former small business employer (of about 100 people over the years) I would say its not the ‘COST of employment that is the problem… its the HASSLE of employing people that is the problem. Its just endless headaches. These days you’d just about have to be nuts to employ anyone.

  4. I am Spartacus

    its not the ‘COST of employment that is the problem… its the HASSLE

    Adelagado – I was implying that “the hassle” was priced into the non salary costs of employing.

  5. stackja

    Sunshine Harvester, Justice Higgins

  6. Myrddin Seren

    Williams was asked why he thought there was not so much comedy in Germany. Williams retort was to ask “did you ever think that you killed all the funny people“.

    Ahahahahahaha !

    Genius – ‘No comedy of the Mosaic Faith for you !

  7. Robbo

    Nothing new in this story. About 30 years ago I did some consultancy work for a furniture manufacturer in Melbourne and just after I concluded my work the relevant union put a log of claims to the owners of the company which had been in operation for well over 40 years and employed about 150. The union claim was idiotically over the top and the company told them so and offered to sit down and negotiate. The union said no way and if you do not agree to our claim we will pull everyone out on strike. The impasse continued for about two months and the union went ahead and everyone walked off on strike. The reaction of the company? They shut down the business and sold the huge factory site to some developers for mega bucks. They didn’t want to do that but were forced to by the complete stupidity of the union nitwits. End result was 150 or so people lost their jobs, the owners went on to invest their money in something non-union controlled and of course the union officials who caused this debacle kept their jobs and no doubt felt really satisfied at the terrific job they had done. No wonder manufacturing in Australia is deep in the shit and continuing to sink.

  8. v_maet

    So rather than try to work with the employer to find ways to make the business competitive, what does the ACTU and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union seek to do? Undertake a campaign to attack the revenues of the Streets at the same time as they are attaching the expenses of Streets.

    Almost exactly what happend with Toyota.
    Rather than working with the business to make productivity gains and continued employment, they just demanded huge pay rises for the remaining 2 years they were employed and then they were out of a job.

  9. John Constantine

    Their west wing had an episode with the:

    You killed them all

    As the punchline.

    Funny enough, it was written as a warning to the American Democrats about the dangers of driving the Republicans to the right by tribalism and bastardry in politics.

  10. meher baba

    Spot on Spartacus.

    The disappearing jobs that the Sally McManuses of the world are lamenting are those in which people with minimal skills and qualifications and with no better than a moderate work ethic can – through accessing overtime and other generous conditions – can achieve a level of remuneration which is the same or better than that of skilled white collar workers such as teachers, bank employees, etc.

    Australian manufacturing used to be a great source of such jobs, but those days are now almost gone. There are still jobs of this type available in sectors where the unions have the power to block economic activity (eg, at the mines and on the wharves) or the rollout of key infrastructure (government-funded construction), but even these areas are starting to change through greater outsourcing, sub-contracting, etc.

    There is still good money to be made by people with most sorts of post-school qualifications and by less skilled people in the service sector: but people in the white collar and service sectors are generally expected to have a strong work ethic, which is why we are seeing Asian and other migrant communities becoming increasingly prominent in these areas.

    So we are seeing a growing “left behind” group of typically Australian-born, low-skilled people who will face a lifetime on welfare. Where I live in Tasmania, this group is a large and visible element of the population. It’s difficult to see what can be done for these people. Even using taxpayer funds to subsidise their employment (which is basically what the unions want to see happen) is becoming more and more difficult due to the ever-widening gap between their cost and productivity and that of overseas-based workers (and even newly-arrived migrants).

    It’s an interesting dilemma, and one that has a political dimension, given that this large dissatisfied element of the population has significant electoral clout.

  11. stackja

    Robbo
    #2547654, posted on November 9, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Bill Shortened Cleanevent workers.

  12. stackja

    meher baba
    #2547666, posted on November 9, 2017 at 10:48 am
    It’s an interesting dilemma, and one that has a political dimension, given that this large dissatisfied element of the population has significant electoral clout.

    PHON?

  13. Warty

    It’s called ‘entitlement’ I believe, and when the robber barons have raided the till and trashed their ‘entitled’ members’ jobs, the term segues smoothly to that of ‘victimhood’. Chuck in an eight year old daughter, who voices her indignation that Streets don’t pay their workers and we introduce yet another modern coinage ‘fake news’. There’s tub loads of that stuff around nowadays.

  14. NB

    Surely all goes according to plan. The aim is to kill capitalism, no?

  15. Diogenes

    It was over the upcoming school holidays 40 years ago I worked in a fully union ‘shop’ , a honest to god listed on the ASX ham, bacon & smallgoods manufacturer, where the shop stewards and not the foremen ran the place.

    Dads machine was 3 months behind ‘budget’ with dad, myself, one of dad’s normal partners(there were 4 regularly assigned to a machine-the other two guys were on holidays) , and his son, within 2 weeks we were 3 weeks ahead on budget, we did things like not stop and depressurise the machine (took 10 minutes to repressurise) if one of us needed to go to the loo(3 couldn’t operate the machine for a shift) , not depressurise & stop when the break bell went if we had only a couple of inches of meat left in the filler, we got into a rhythm that reduced downtime etc … The union were not happy with us ,and dads partner’s son & I were sacked.

    Even a wet behind the ears straight of school, 18 year old could see the terrible labor inefficiencies, and I was not surprised when 6 months later they went broke.

  16. Billy Boy

    I once knew a metallurgist working for the Nissan factory in Clayton which, from memory had been a VW plant. He told me that the production line workers were earning, in many cases, more than the professionals working at the same plant. It is no wonder our manufacturing jobs are going but union leaders and many in the community are blind to it.

  17. Myrddin Seren

    Surely all goes according to plan. The aim is to kill capitalism, no?

    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

    Benito Mussolini

    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/benitomuss109829.html

    Communism is a bit messy because the State gets the blame when it goes Tits up.

    Fascism is much more fun. Kill off small private enterprise, but leave a few large crony corporatists in place as a Potemkin private sector to get a thumping as a distraction squirrel for the regime.

    In the meantime, the ruling politicians and their masters in the Unions can flense the country to the bone.

    Comrades*

    *Copyright John Constantine 2017

  18. hzhousewife

    Streets should close down immediately., why struggle on at such a loss for two more years.
    My ice-cream comes from a small farm-based producer, they don’t make much money but neither are they unionised. Of course, regulation will strangle them eventually, but until then…. City folk will need to source their own ice-cream, and if they drive out to the country on a Sunday afternoon, I hope they are charged through the nose for ice-cream!
    To my mind, big business and big banks are also complicit in closing down enterprise in Australia, unions are the third prong of the fork killing the sausage.

  19. zyconoclast

    Senator Sam the Stunt-Man Dastyari.

    His daughter looks delightful. Sam’s a lucky man.

    This is from 2012 and about Dastardly’s pets.
    Until recently the family lived at their Concord home – his wife, Helen, two large dogs (Sasha and Lulu), the three cats (named Lenin, Trotsky and Chairman Mao), and young daughter Hannah.

  20. Adelagado

    I am Spartacus
    #2547646, posted on November 9, 2017 at 10:27 am
    its not the ‘COST of employment that is the problem… its the HASSLE

    Adelagado – I was implying that “the hassle” was priced into the non salary costs of employing.

    Yes and you listed them well. But I think many people just dont ‘get it’ because its always called a COST, something that apparently can be solved rather simply by reducing ‘red tape’. They love that term don’t they? It makes them sound like they understand.

    We need an extra word to describe the stomach churning, heart attack inducing, pressure of running your own business?

  21. Mark M

    Dastyari, the same one of the Australian Labor Party, the workers party?

    “Days before the carbon tax took effect on July 1, 2012, French energy giant Engie transferred $1 billion in dividends out of Australia and back to UK parent companies.

    Just two-and-a-half years later, those Australian subsidiaries were warning they risked breaching loan agreements with their banks.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-09/engie-pulls-money-out-of-australian-loy-yang-b-power-station/9130602

  22. Paul

    That things have reached this point is a blatant failure by Streets (Unilever) management. The Unions are being bastards but that’s both expected and par for the course. Streets management have no one to blame but themselves.

  23. Christopher Hanley

    Ms McManus would not pay $50 for a $10 sandwich …

    I wouldn’t pay $10 for a $10 sandwich but I get the point.

  24. H B Bear

    Almost exactly what happend with Toyota.

    Exactly. And by the time the unions realised they were about to kill the goose and went back another Liar’s maaaaate in the judiciary, Mordy J said they were stuck with the award that the unions and more Liar’s maaaaates in the IR club had saddled them with. No wonder the Nippers decided it was all to hard and went home.

  25. Macspee

    Surely the real problem is that the union and workers want the company to close down so that the workers can enjoy the enormous payouts to which they will then be entitled. They won’t care about the loss of work as they will not have to work for a longtime. Mind you once the money is spent they will have plenty to say and much abuse for the company.

  26. Bob of Brisbane

    I thoroughly agree with the comments about destructive unions. Years ago when unions were making outrageous wage claims on a project I was looking after, I commented to an ETU Site Representative, “What you are doing isn’t good for Australia.” He replied, “I don’t give a sxxt about Australia.”
    Re the Robin Williams comment however, see:
    http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/?p=85432
    Note: “For over a century, the Jewish World Almanac has been widely regarded as the most authentic source for the world’s Jewish population numbers. Academics all over the world, including the editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, used to rely on the accuracy of those numbers. Here is what the World Almanacs of 1933 and 1948 had to say about the world population of Jews.”
    “In other words, according to the World Almanac the world population of Jews increased (!) between 1933 and 1948 from 15,315,000 to 15,753,000.”
    Note also: “The suspicions raised by above numbers concerning the veracity of the allegations made against the Hitler government are confirmed by the official three-volume report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, released 1948 in Geneva, according to which 272,000 concentration camp inmates died in German custody, about half of them Jews.”

  27. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    No, the real reason for the decline of comedy is the belief that no-one should be laughed at, even if they want to be. “That’s not funny!” is a call to silence people. Comedians and jokesters are being pressured into PC positions that keep narrowing the subjects of jokes. How long before PETA stops us from telling chicken jokes?
    Q. Why did the politician cross the road?
    A. Because he was a chicken, and that’s what a chicken would have done!
    P.s.- the politician is only male because a majority of politicians are male. No insult was intended to female chicken politicians.

  28. Dr Faustus

    Manufacturing is gone as an Australian pastime; mining and petroleum are following briskly as impediments, imposts and cost structures choke the comparative advantage.

    But not to worry. There are plenty of great jobs for the future:

    NDIS Concierge – $95,000 pa.
    Solar panel installers and windmill maintenance persons – $100,000 pa.
    Cert 3 Traffic Controllers – $80,000 to $103,000 pa.
    NDIS lawnmower operatives – $65,000 pa+.
    Policy officers; many, many policy officers – $65,000 to $210,000pa (+ vehicle)…
    And Local Laws Officers...

    Luckily the Government has enough debt/GDP overhead to borrow as much as Japan.

  29. Greg

    You’d think that the employees would be afraid to lose their jobs and reject such tactics, but they have massive redundancy payouts negotiated by the union, so they don’t care. Those hardest hit will be suppliers to Streets which probably not unionised.

  30. Des Deskperson

    ‘Sunshine Harvester, Justice Higgins’

    I asked a labour historian a couple of years back whether the Harvester ‘living wage’ judgement would have been possible if Australia hadn’t been protected at the time, by racist tariff and immigration policies, from competition by black, yellow and brown people and their products.

    He got a bit angry and flustered, but he didn’t answer the question.

  31. Rev. Archibald

    There is blame enough to go around to almost everyone.
    Unions don’t get that powerful unless business allows it.
    Any prosperity we see today is just the final shakeout of whatever is left from more productive times.
    The final stages of converting industrial capacity into over- priced property, brothels, casinos and freeways to nowhere.
    A danse macarbe. We died a decade or or so ago, but the maggots infesting our national corpse makes it move in a grotesque parody of life.

  32. Roberto

    P.s.- the politician is only male because a majority of politicians are male. No insult was intended to female chicken politicians.

    Never apologise for using the generic third person singular form of the personal pronoun. It just plays into the hands of the lefty grammar police.

  33. H B Bear

    This is a great story, How shelf stacker Penny Vickers took down Coles , and exposes how business really gets done in Australia between maaaates – Big Business, Big Union and Big Government.

  34. Pauly

    Peter Cook had a much better take on German comedy. I can’t find a clip of it on youtube, but he described Germans as treating comedy the way a biology student treats a frog.

  35. Gay

    Not just unions.

    When negotiating my last sub contract the owner tried to factor in what I would get in low income assistance. I left a few weeks later.

  36. Tintarella di Luna

    Can I please suggest that the correct adjective be used for Sam Dastyari – It’s Shanghai Sam — I noticed a slight hesitation/recovery by Shorten this morning I’m almost sure he was going to say Shanghai Sam but just caught himself in time and said Senator Sam. I’m given to wonder if the whole thing wasn’t paid for in Renminbis

  37. Up The Workers!

    If the A.C.T.U. Secretary is getting all teary about the near-destitute American-style “working poor” not being able to keep their heads above water, maybe she could have a go at paying back the $20 MILLION that her own criminal former Party Federal President and former National A.C.T.U. Senior Vice President, Michael Williamson, embezzled from the low-paid members of the H.S.U. (the A.L.P.’s “Help yourSelf Union”).

    The cash was all thieved from them years ago and nobody from the A.L.P. or A.C.T.U. has yet shown the embarrassment, the guilt, the shame, the honesty or the decency to pay any of it back to the poor, ripped-off suckers, yet.

    On the other hand, maybe the H.S.U. members should give the sanctimonious hypocrites at the A.C.T.U. and A.L.P. the finger and affiliate with the Liberal Party instead, as no former Federal President of the Liberal Party is currently serving a 7-year prison sentence for thieving (and refusing to repay)$20 million of Union funds – that is a distinction which the A.L.P. has all to itself!

    A.L.P. – Always Looting the Peasants!

  38. Pedro the Ignorant

    I used to employ a warehouseman and two truck drivers back in the day.

    All older blokes, as reliable as the sun rise, mutually agreed wages and hours.

    Everyone happy, then the union stooges arrived at the site one afternoon.

    Predictable end result, three unemployed men, and me stuck with a financial millstone.

    Never again.

  39. entropy

    Just went and bought a magnum for the first time in years. The bloody things have shrunk!

  40. Shy Ted

    Being a communist means never having to say you’re sorry. Because you’re never wrong.

  41. Bob of Brisbane

    Entropy – I think a lot of us feel like buying magnums. What calibre did you get?

  42. John Constantine

    The “you killed them all” west wing episode had a RINO anti trump black hand republican going to socialist Josh Lyman to do a deal for political favours.

    The rino republican was wistful and weepy when the deal was done to fully advantage socialism and he got nothing out of it.

    Just like their pynefilth dealing with get up.

  43. Mundi

    The industry I work has a huge boost over Christmas. To cope with demand we employ casuals.

    These casuals out perform the union staff by 80% to 100% in the production rate, while only getting paid about 60% as much.

    The strange thing is, if a union job opens and a casual takes it, the instantly get dragged down by the others.

    Now we don’t hire any one. We just casual everything, otherwise we would be broke.

  44. wal1957

    The workers and the unions are to be blamed.
    FMD. $100k. What I wouldn’t give to earn anywhere near that.
    The workers are too stupid to realise what a good wicket they are on.
    No sympathy for the workers when it goes down the gurgler.
    The unions…well. they’re doing what these A$$holes have always done.

  45. Squirrel

    “…..average annual wage of a Streets production worker at Minto is $105,000 a year. This is not a king’s ransom, especially in Sydney….”

    An amazing figure, but a reminder, also, that we’ve made this such an expensive place to do business, and not just due to labour costs – the insane costs of commercial real estate (including taxes thereon) should not be forgotten.

  46. Keep in mind that many/most of these union organiser types do not have even the most basic understanding of economic cause & effect.
    Most of these bozos who are behind a workforce striking itself out of a job do not understand, even when it is explained in words of one syllable, that they did not help anybody, all they did was organise their members to be jobless, and a businessman to be out of business.

  47. Stimpson J. Cat

    This is racist.
    Gay’s, J$ws, and Gypsy’s are not the only funny comedians in the world.
    Mentally Ill people can be funny too.

  48. The Victorian desal plant is a fine example of unions and labor governments screwing the taxpayer.

    Wages up to $250,000 a year for trades that in the private sector were being paid $60,000 and on top of that excess if you were conscientious and tried to give a good account of your skills by actually working the union heavies would threaten workers with violence if they did not slow down and slack off. McManus should just shut up and piss off. The country is stuffed.

  49. Rockdoctor

    Made a tad under $70K last year however didn’t work the full year. My work is cyclical and we are at a low, however the norm for quite few years is that the workers have outearned us professionals in lower to mid levels. I refuse to have anything to do with a Union, they have the CMFEU in their favour. Despite what I think so be it, I get on with it and have always earned enough to get by.

    Even more the case now and they are now bleating about the rise of short term contractors and automation which will see all but the earthworks boys unemployed very soon till the technology catches up with them. Even as someone whose job is becoming increasingly shorter due to advances in Geophysical Technologies I have no sympathy for them.

    Postscript, I am not one for envy & have never been but IMO $105K (With other likely perks not listed) for a ice cream factory worker if true is obscene…

  50. Linden

    I have total empathy with that, being in small business the things you as an employer have to do, just to keep an employee to stay on board particularly if they a good competent one is a major hassle in itself. ie the employee adult child is an ice addict and is hooked up with another ice addict and they produce a baby child, and your employee suddenly becomes a grandparent and they want to look after the ‘little one’ because the real parents are too brain stupid to do it and beside the extra money they mother got for having the kid means that she goes out on a ‘spree’. Now your good employee need heaps of time off to go court to do to DHS and when the employee is at work is on the phone all day long sorting all this shit out, and of course you being the employer must be very careful not be at insensitive to any of this, after all it has nothing do to with you or your business, you just happen to be this person job supplier!

  51. MPH

    Just goes to show that the RBA has been pushing on a piece of string expecting lower rates to stimulate the real economy and business investment. Cost of finance hasn’t been the limiting factor for quite a while now, regulation (particularly employment regulation) is.

  52. OneWorldGovernment

    MPH
    #2548401, posted on November 10, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Just goes to show that the RBA has been pushing on a piece of string expecting lower rates to stimulate the real economy and business investment. Cost of finance hasn’t been the limiting factor for quite a while now, regulation (particularly employment regulation) is.

    The RBA have touted themselves as stimulating the economy.

    What a laugh.

    What is the cost of a loan to small business these days?

  53. BorisG

    this is all true but a deeper question is: why workers tolerate these Union bosses? they are elected, aren’t they? maybe god forbid, workers deserve it?

  54. Humphrey B Bear;

    Exactly. And by the time the unions realised they were about to kill the goose and went back another Liar’s maaaaate in the judiciary, Mordy J said they were stuck with the award that the unions and more Liar’s maaaaates in the IR club had saddled them with.

    The action needs to be seen in context.
    That context is a warning to others that the Union can and will bankrupt a business if it doesn’t pay the Danegeld.
    It’s the same reason that the Mafia would ‘allow’ a business to be burnt down by some other Mafia faction competitors, then help with the reconstruction.

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