Is United Voice Becoming the New CFMEU

Just as I read the Courier Mail a couple of weeks ago and find the CFMEU state secretary Jade Ingham charmingly stating: “We just like a f—ing blue” (Courier Mail, 9 September 2016), I reflected on the disgraceful display of 2 bus loads of supposedly United Voice members protesting last month as they entered the premises of one of our clients, Southport Sharks.

For those who are not aware, a couple of weeks ago United Voice orchestrated a protest on Southport Sharks within the premises of the Club. It appears that the “mob” arrived in 2 buses, entered the Club and signed in as guests and enjoyed lunch and coffee.  Then “on cue” removed their jackets, proudly displayed their Union T-shirts and began harassing staff and patrons about the Penalty Rates issue and what they called ‘ongoing attacks’ on their wages. Security removed them but not before creating havoc and traumatising staff and patrons with their yelling, screaming and their riotous and intimidating behaviour.

This is concerning and disturbing for a number of reasons:

We have no idea why Southport Sharks was targeted. Sharks have never, to the best of my knowledge and the knowledge of management, made any statement or pronouncement about penalty rates; they are not in negotiations for an Enterprise Agreement where penalty rates may have been an issue; and there are no claims on foot or any staff issues that could even come close warranting this sort of conduct.

In fact Southport Sharks, like most Clubs are one of the best employers in the hospitality sector. I am sure there are other employers that are not as generous to their staff as Sharks are to their staff, and dare I say it, some employers who are not currently and correctly paying any penalty rates to their staff. So the targeting of Southport Sharks on this issue is extremely perplexing.

It is interesting to note that the placards shown in the TV footage had been specially made for this protest, which shows that (a) it had been well and truly orchestrated and pre-empted and (b) there was a fair bit of money spent by the Union on this rally. (The footage can be found on Channels 7 and 9 Gold Coast Facebook pages) The question is, are the Union members, some who are staff members of Sharks, aware that their Union fees (their hard earned money) is being spent and wasted on this sort of calamity? It should be noted that none of the staff of Southport Sharks appear to have been part of the protesting mob.

Further to this, what did it achieve for their members? The answer is absolutely nothing. Nothing has changed in respect to their wages; they certainly haven’t increased. Rather, the Club’s reputation has been damaged and not through any fault of their own. The “fall-out” Facebook posts are mixed, but disturbingly there are some posts by people who are ignorant to the facts or have simply jumped on the band-wagon that have berated the Club for no good and apparent reason and in ignorance of the facts. But, in a worst case scenario this may lead to less customers (particularly to those who have said that they will now boycott the Club). This means less income for the Club, less support for sporting organisations, less support for the community and possibly less jobs. So this calamity has resulted in possible economic loss to the community, and the worst case scenario, job losses!! Not a lot of thought gone into that strategy guys!!

This is almost déjà vu for the incident that occurred at Capalaba Sports Club, which was the target last year of a Facebook campaign and a rally that was based on untruths, again about Penalty rates. United Voice will use any excuse to mount a campaign against an employer claiming to be an issue about Penalty rates, and unfortunately some members of the public get “sucked in” to this propaganda campaign that does untold damage to a business’ reputation, and ultimately impacting on the jobs and livelihoods of the innocent hard working staff.

The other concern is, who’s next? If this sort of display is meted out on a Club with no staff issues, who will be the next target for this sort of campaign? It seems that sitting down and having discussions with employers about wages and/or penalty rates, and/or whatever this issue is (because we are still scratching our heads), (and by the way that’s what your employed to do by your members), have gone out the window. Rather, their approach has turned to chaos and anarchy to attempt to represent the so-called interests of their members. Sort of reminds you of the CFMEU, doesn’t it?

If your Club is the subject of this sort of campaign, or you are having issues in terms of Union entry into your premises for this sort of campaign, please no not hesitate to contact us for advice on how to deal with these issues.


By Greg Arnold, Director and Principal Consultant

Effective Workplace Solutions

Written 30 September 2016