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Small businesses threatened by Union’s Penalty Rates Campaign

COSBOA today expressed concern for small business people and their employees as a result of the behaviour of some union supporters. COSBOA Chairman Paul Nielsen also released a statement on the decision.

Peter Strong CEO of COSBOA said today "our members are worried about the behaviour of some in the union movement in response to the penalty rates decision. If a person expresses an opinion with which a minority of unions disagrees then that person and his or her business is targeted through social media or through 'black bans' on deliveries to the business. This is an attack on democracy and on the health of individuals who are the backbone of our economy and culture."

COSBOA advises its members, small business people and their employees not to make public statements in support of the decision. While the FWC decision may be positive for their businesses and employees as it creates additional hours or allow them to employ additional staff, the business and its owner and employees may be targeted by elements of the union movement. The union campaign may use social media to try to discredit or destroy these small businesses and also discredit their staff. Anyone wanting to make a statement can do so anonymously by contacting the COSBOA secretariat.

"We must protect our democracy" Peter Strong said, "We must not become a police state. Our Chairman makes a valid and profound statement about our values and our political system."

In the statement Paul Nielsen highlights that the decision was made by an independent umpire, the Fair Work Commission, and the decision was made based on evidence provided by a range of stakeholders, including the unions and industry associations.

The independence of the Fair Work Commission has at times been questioned by business groups but in the end the decisions must be and have been respected.

"That the union movement has rejected the decision and would destroy the businesses and health of anybody who publicly expresses a different view, shows that we have a much bigger problem in Australia. We know that only some 11% of the private sector workforce are members of unions, yet some in this minority will use belligerence and false facts to get their way. We must confront this for the sake of fairness and the sake of the economy and jobs."

See Paul Nielsen's statement below.

Clearing the Air about the Fair Work Commission and Penalty Rates Decision

A statement from the Chairman of COSBOA

There has been a lot written in recent days and a lot of rhetoric and chest beating by those who do not agree with the recent Fair Work Commission’s decision to balance the playing field in relation to penalty rates on Sundays.

Media speculation and hyperbole by vested interests has even speculated that the government and/or employer organisations have somehow subverted the “right outcome” to this decision.

To set the record straight - Here are the clear unambiguous facts:

  1. The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission heard evidence and submissions over 39 days of hearing in 2015 and 2016.

  2. Evidence was given by 143 lay and expert witnesses, of whom 128 were required for cross-examination.

  3. Over 5,900 submissions were received from the principal parties, State and Territory Governments, church based organisations, political entities and individual employees and employers.

  4. Evidence from the final witness was heard on 28 September 2016 and the final written submission was received on 4 February 2017.

  5. The proceedings have been conducted in an open and transparent manner, in accordance with s.577 of the Fair Work Act.

  6. The Commission’s website has been used extensively to provide information to any interested person in order to facilitate broad participation.

  7. The Federal Government did not provide a submission to the FWC in relation to Penalty Rates.

Whilst not commenting on the outcome of the decision made independently by the commission it is hard to understand what has happened to the quintessential Australian ideal of a “fair go”. if a decision by an independent body – the umpire – following a transparent and logical process and taking into account the views of the 5,900 stakeholders over a significant time frame can be vilified in such a caustic way we have an issue.

When the mums and dads of Australia scramble on the weekend to ferry their kids around sporting events in the suburbs, do they tell their kids “Don’t worry what the umpire says, if you don’t like the decision, ignore it and do what you want”.

Is that what we teach our kids?

When the kids get older and are ‘out on the town’ do we tell them “Look, if you get in a fight, that’s OK, if the cops try to break it up, ignore them and get stuck in”.

Is that what we are teaching our young adults?

By ignoring the independent umpire’s decision, we are encouraging only one thing – anarchy. Is that the fabric of the society that we are leaving as a legacy to the next generation of Australians? So, what exactly is anarchy?

It is s defined as: “a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority”.

The independently constituted Fair Work Commission is to be applauded not vilified for carefully considering their options and making a decision based on their findings.

If their decision is so bad, then those who oppose it should take the abolition of the Fair Work Commission to the next election as part of their policy platform and let the people of Australia decide.

I don’t fancy their chances of getting elected but if they have any self-belief outside of playing petty politics then that’s what they should do.

That’s called exercising your rights to the democratic process - a far more egalitarian ideal than promoting anarchy as the way for our country to move forward – in fact it is the Australian way.

Paul Nielsen



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