Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, July 05, 2003
ARE YOU WORKING TOO HARD? Not taking enough leave? If you had more leave entitlements you could get a bigger payout when you leave that job from which you have been failing to take leave.

And so on. All part of the union movements push for more for those who have - jobs that is - and stuff the rest.

Nothing new here. That's why the ACTU needs the Australia Insitute, which can be relied on to conduct deliberative polling to support the union position.

All based on the assumption that workers are not in charge of their own life choices and need to be controlled by Union-directed regulation.

And on the assumption that more leave equals healthier, happier, richer workers and families.

No evidence for any of this, of course. These are just thoughts, produced by a think-tank.

The Australia Institute, that is, which has produced a report with the appropriate spin. No reason they shouldn't. They are, as Director Clive Hamilton concedes readily, labor-oriented.

Which is why, when their report is released on a quiet news day, Sharan Burrows and other Union heavies are lined up for media interviews. All singing from the same hymn-book. More leave entitlements are needed, not, of course to produce more money, but for the sake of workers' health and family lives.

Last week these same goofs were telling us that the growth in part-time work was a threat to Australian families. This week it's the opposite.

When you look at the survey figures in the Institute's flimsy report, the picture is rather different.

Of those not taking their full rec. leave entitlement each year, 63% cite reasons that could be described accurately either as self-interest or unknown. Either they are saving their leave for later, or they prefer the money, or even the work.

(These figures are made difficult to interpret because the total of all options is greater than 100%, because they tally answers, and you can have more than one anwer. Only 37% of the answers cite "work-related" reasons for not taking the leave, and this doesn't distinguish reasons imposed by employers from reasons chosen by workers).

So how do the ACTU spinners get from that to a popular endorsement for more leave? They ask if you would rather have 4% more pay or two weeks more leave! You'd be a mug not to choose the leave, even if you didn't intend to take it, because it's worth a lot more than a 4% pay rise, if you cost it correctly. Even so, they get a bare majority.

And so the Institute come to the conclusion: It is therefore possible that to improve the work-life balance of the
majority of full-time employees, senior decision makers may need education and counselling to ensure that their own work preferences are not imposed on their subordinates who desire a better balance for themselves.

I know just the fellow to do the counselling. That caring, sharing secretary of the NSW CFMEU, John Sutton.

Then why does ABC news continue to promote the Australia Institute as "a public policy think-tank" and avoid any mention of ideological or political bias?

While it describes the Institute of Public Affairs as "a self-described right-wing think-tank".

Rhetorical question.

Later. Some good news. While this non-news story got a great run on Auntie's national television news, I have seen no trace of it in that section of the print media that now fills my recycling bin.