Woke ACTU’s recovery plan fails Australian workers

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has released a briefing, entitled “Rebuilding jobs and our economy beyond the COVID-19 health crisis”, which contains an eight point plan to help the economy recover from COVID-19:

Improve the quality and security of jobs by creating 2 million new permanent jobs and halving the number of insecure jobs.

The growth of insecure work is no accident. It is a result of a conscious business model that promotes the fragmentation of traditional employment arrangements and the shifting of financial risk from employers to workers. Casual workers, gig workers, workers employed by labour hire firms or on contracts were the first to lose their jobs in this crisis and the last to receive (and in many cases are yet to receive) any government support to keep them in employment. We need to restore balance to our labour market. To do this we need to revise our labour laws and labour market institutions; re-visit our wage fixing mechanisms; reconsider the unfettered expansion of precarious employment arrangements; and strengthen the capacity for workers to protect their rights and genuinely participate in change by organising in their trade unions. Secure jobs, higher pay and genuine consultation will drive productivity, lift living standards, increase domestic demand and lay the ground-work for rebuilding Australia and a better life for working people…

Lift wages and living standards.

This crisis has highlighted the critical nature of the work of many of the lowest paid and precarious workers in Australia who have led us through this crisis – health workers, supermarket workers, transport and logistics, agricultural workers, aged-care workers, cleaners and many others. We need to prioritise ensuring that workers are properly valued, including through reinvigorating collective bargaining, reducing insecure work and establishing a new Living Wage…

We need changes that increase workers’ bargaining power so that wage growth occurs across whole industries and lifts both domestic demand and living standards…

Strengthening and investing in public and community services that are our first line of defence against ‘shocks’ like COVID-19, bushfires and drought.

We need to ensure crucial services remain in public ownership and are properly funded. We need public investment in public services and institutions – not cuts and austerity measures. The crisis
shows that some critical services that we have relied upon the market to deliver, such as aviation, research and development, regional media, energy, utilities, transport, education and health need more active ownership, control and investment by government…

Support nation-building projects that create decent jobs and set Australia up for a better future.

In the wake of the Great Depression governments committed to building the Great Ocean Road. After World War 2 the nation embarked upon the Snowy Hydro Scheme. We need to take advantage of the historically low cost of borrowing money to invest in large national projects that create a lasting benefit to the nation, creating hundreds of thousands of new additional, secure jobs. Key priorities could include government investment in public transport projects, inter-city fast rail, sustainable public and community housing, new hospitals, schools & TAFEs and electricity transmission network upgrades…

Education and training.

As important as investing in physical infrastructure is investing in social capacity through skills and training. Too much of our education system has been reliant on exporting education to full fee paying international students, As our third-largest export, education has failed to deliver secure jobs and increasing incomes for the majority of the people who work in the industry. With the collapse of people being able to freely move around the globe the entire industry is in crisis…

Dealing with the crisis of climate change.

Many nations around the world are looking to rebuild their economies in ways that reduce emissions and the physical and social impacts of climate change and restore nature. Australian Unions call on the Federal Government to align our economic recovery with a goal of achieving net zero emissions by mid-century at the latest and to make a greater contribution to global efforts under the Paris Agreement…

Improve social, health and economic outcomes for people and communities that experience disadvantage.

While improving the quality and security of jobs will improve our domestic economy and deliver significant progress towards addressing inequality in Australia, further interventions are necessary. Australian unions support actions and investment to improve public and social housing, address homelessness, and invest in physical and social infrastructure in Aboriginal communities…

Embrace industry policy and ‘Australian made’.

The international economy will recover much more slowly than our domestic economy. As highlighted above we need to bolster both supply and demand locally. This will require initiatives to build domestic demand, support Australian businesses, create good jobs and ensure that workers have the income to buy more of the products and services produced and provided within Australia…

Amazingly, the ACTU’s plan makes zero mention of curbing the never-ending flood of migrant workers into the Australian economy, which has unambiguously undercut Australian workers, crushed wages and destroyed living standards.

For crying out loud. The ACTU stood by silently for 15 years while Australia’s immigration program was more than doubled:

The impacts on Australian workers has been terrible, with real wage growth stagnating for a decade:

Chronic underemployment and labour underutilisation:

And collapsing average hours worked:

Australian households have also been forced to endure some of the world’s most expensive housing and the prospect of being shoe-horned into shoe-box apartments, as chronic strong demand from immigration has pushed up dwelling prices and caused massive densification across our major cities.

The future is looking worse, with the ABS projecting that Australia’s population will balloon by another 17 million people by 2066 on the back of never-ending strong immigration:

Infrastructure Australia has also projected falling living standards in Sydney and Melbourne as their populations explode, with traffic congestion and commute times projected to worsen, alongside reduced access to jobs, schools, hospitals and green space over the 26 years to 2046:

While Australia’s mass immigration experiment has been an unmitigated disaster for the working class – crushing their wages, pushing up their cost of living, and degrading their quality of life – it has been a boon for the wealthy owners of Australia’s capital.

Moguls like Gerry Harvey and Highrise Harry Triguboff – strong supporters of mass immigration – are laughing all the way to the bank as they enjoy an ever-growing customer base and pay lower wages.

Rather than standing up for Australian workers, all we’ve gotten from the ACTU are demands that taxpayer welfare be extended to more than one million temporary migrant workers at a potential cost of billions:

The union movement should never have allowed the migrant workforce to grow so huge in the first place. They should have been screaming from the rafters.

When will the ACTU stand up for Australian workers, not behave as useful idiots for the capitalist elites that gain from big migration?

Leith van Onselen
Latest posts by Leith van Onselen (see all)


  1. Sad Sally. She looks so sad. She has already lost, you see it in her eyes. Sad Sally.

    • SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

      that picture has nearly cost me my computer screen a few times

      the video is worse

    • DominicMEMBER

      But it says “…. creating 2 million new jobs …”. Yep, our Sal is magic like that.

      Just disappointed she didn’t mention skittle-sh1tting unicorns …. I can’t imagine a utopia without those.

  2. But Sally, this was a class of temporary workers that you helped to create – along with their poor working conditions. You happily went along with the woke rhetoric and allowed domestic workers to be shafted and a slave class to be exploited. You have betrayed the basic principles of the union movement and re-invented them as your ideological cat toy. Your resignation would be the best thing you could do for the labour movement. You are an utter anathema.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Hear hear ……being back a Bill Kelty……..and the full symphony orchestra…..

  3. You guys SERIOUSLY need a landing page on this.

    This is the cr#p I got via an EDM from Michelle O’Neill last night. Being able to respond with data would be ever so useful.

    One single landing page.
    Data and graphs
    Links to your radio bits on this
    Skewering of the counter/wokeness/fake left (but with facts and data)
    No comments
    Minimal emotion

    Super shareable

    Make it happen FFS

    • truthisfashionable

      +1 This is such a great idea.

      All the info in one place, easy to link to and add to

    • I’m with Swampy.

      And +1 on the “no comments” to keep crazy people like me from diluting the message.

      • With respect, it doesn’t exist

        That’s all your articles tagged immigration

        That’s exactly what I am not talking about

        If you want your message spread help us help you

        Sharing the list of articles (many locked and many with crazy comments), isn’t it

        Most people won’t find all the information amongst all that
        — think about it

        I presumed someone at MB was doing some basic SEO with evergreen /cornerstone content on key stuff

        I mean not only does it help your message spread I’d have thought it’s good marketing and lead gen

  4. drsmithyMEMBER

    Amazingly, the ACTU’s plan makes zero mention of curbing the never-ending flood of migrant workers into the Australian economy, which has unambiguously undercut Australian workers, crushed wages and destroyed living standards.

    And if those same immigrant workers had to be in Unions, being treated identically to Australian workers, and this was strongly enforced, what do you think the intake would have looked like ?

    Immigration is just a symptom.

    • Well, given they don’t have to be in Unions, and we understand the real world consequences of that structural difference, why on earth would you continue as a Union secretary to propagate the issue by implicitly supporting the ongoing influx of pretend-skilled workers ?

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Well, given they don’t have to be in Unions, and we understand the real world consequences of that structural difference, why on earth would you continue as a Union secretary to propagate the issue by implicitly supporting the ongoing influx of pretend-skilled workers ?

        Ignoring that there isn’t any “implicit support”, because it does nothing to further the core issues of unionism and workers rights ?

        • Holy overlord, you must be joking !

          Doesn’t further workers rights ?

          To stem a corrupted immigration system established to benefit a plutocratic corporate structure ?

          Hmmm, what was your doctorate in again exactly ?

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            Doesn’t further workers rights ?


            If you think otherwise, by all means list some of the “workers rights” cutting immigration – and only cutting immigration – will restore.

            Note that rights are things enshrined in legislation and protected by law, not hopeful outcomes based on wishful thinking about how the invisible hand will operate on slightly different input variables.

            Here’s an easy one: stopping immigration won’t fix the growing “gig economy”. It will just mean the people in it getting screwed are locals, not immigrants.

            High immigration feeds off and magnifies the consequences of underlying problems. It does not create (nearly all of) them.

          • Was that you talking about cognitive dissonance just before ?

            The gig economy is enabled by the significant pool of pretend-skilled workers who have lowered the asking price on labour, and diluted the working conditions that gig economy tech capitalists can get away with to make their enterprise stack up. Did you not mention the core issues of unionism just now ? How is that not relevant to the core issues of unionism ?

            The ACTU can’t unionise immigrants, that’s why immigration is the preferred mechanism of choice by the capital class to undermine wages and conditions, and generally boost consumption. The ACTU is fighting this from the wrong front, and I suspect it is exactly – as this article suggests – because of the ideological cognitive dissonance of its wokester leadership.

    • Immigration is just a symptom.
      and trying only to fix immigration without looking into fundamentals of work relations is like trying to fix broken leg using painkillers

    • DominicMEMBER

      Force immigrants to be in unions — admirable stuff from our resident Statist.

      Without wishing to point out the screaming obvious, having immigrants as members of unions defeats the object i.e. having a cheap labor force

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Force immigrants to be in unions — admirable stuff from our resident Statist.

        Please don’t use words you don’t understand.

        And, by all means, quote the part where I suggested anything even remotely close to “force immigrants to be in unions”.

        Without wishing to point out the screaming obvious, having immigrants as members of unions defeats the object i.e. having a cheap labor force

        And here I was thinking skilled immigration was about bringing capabilities into the country we can’t source locally in a reasonable timeframe.

        The level of cognitive dissonance you have on this subject is mind-bending.

        • DominicMEMBER

          But you’re talking at a level that speaks to personal idealism rather than what the political elites want — which is cheap labour — and that’s what they’re getting.

          Let me spell it out for you: there is no fault in the system — it is working precisely as Gubmint designed it. Introducing Unions simply nullifies the benefits. Complaining about it (or pointing out where they’ve got it wrong) is absurd.

        • drsmithyMEMBER

          No, I’m talking at what the purported objective of the skilled immigrant programme is.

          I am acutely aware of what the system is doing in reality, that was one of the points of my original post.

    • Agree, attacking ‘immigrants’ is a neo liberal deflection allowing corporates, the LNP and IPA to have their way, i.e. no rights nor services for Australians, let alone strong environmental protections to constrain fossil fuel and mining sectors.

      You’d think MB, like Spiked, pretends or astro turfs a right on attitude while masking the Koch think tank line….. radical right libertarianism; MB is quite ‘fake’.

  5. You can trace the ACTU’s failure back to a simple typo where someone meant to type “WORKERS” and it auto corrected to “WOKERS”. They’ve been fighting for wokers ever since!

    • codeazureMEMBER

      It’s bizarre. We have :
      – the ACTU that acts against the interest of workers (especially unionised ones)
      – the Labor Party that has forgotten it’s meant to represent working people
      – the Green Party that has forgotten it’s meant to act in the interest of the environment

      Useless pack of useful idiots for the mass immigration lobby the lot of them…

      • And me who woke up from wokeness. Or maybe I was just always a lert. Still waiting for a single response on anything I tweet from MB. 🤣 Got my family on side though. Reawoken.

  6. The left, unions and labor party work like this:

    They promise good things X, Y, Z, which rely on sacrificing/modifying A, B, C, but instead of articulating that compromise and pursuing policies to that effect, they promise X, Y, Z & A, B, C. Which is impossible.
    Thus they are total frauds.
    Not worth a single vote until they are uniform and consistent in putting Australians first.

  7. turncoatMEMBER

    Your mistake is to imagine the unions serve the workers. Rather the workers fund and support their union leaderships’ social justice and globalisation missions. With the workers’ support the leadership can then achieve further personal career advancement in Labor politics and, throughout, will enjoy the intangible, but nonetheless greatly desired, pleasure of elevated self esteem from pursuing such laudable goals.

    Where did such a sophisticated model of advancement on the backs of a servile sub class come from?

    It is of course British India where, across 2 centuries, 20,000 transported Englishmen successfully ruled over 300 million Indians and arranged for them to send millions of willing troops to fight the Empire’s battles.

    It is an amazing story and seemingly well understood by the university graduates who have suborned the workers’ institutions to their will.

    Hats off to the Union leaders. They are winning what matters to them.

    But, of course, a more clever group of puppet masters is at play. The union leaders are mostly just fighting over the scraps of the modern economy. Personal virtue and the pretension of political power is sufficient for them. The real prize of a harbourside mansion, a trophy wife and pony riding for their daughters in the sunny uplands is reserved for the capitalists that clip the coupon on the globalised world the union leaders help secure.

    They too are winning what matters to them.

    The workers, on the other hand, are not winning and, like the Indian sepoys before them, haven’t worked out why.

  8. I would be hitting up some of the second layer “heavies” at ACTU head office to let them know how you feel …

    try: Liam O’Brien, one of the Assistant Secretaries .. [email protected]

    Send him a firm but polite email letting him know why they are possibly not in touch with their own membership base, and are glossing over relevant data

    • If I only I could send him to a MacroBusiness landing page with no comments and unassailable logic graphs and make it a convo on wages amenity etc etc

  9. Sally McManus has all of the wordly insight you would expect of someone whose working career outside the Union movement was that of a Pizza Hut driver, and who is an obsessive gamer.

  10. I’m surprised unions still exist. They’ve failed to represent workers since a union heavyweight bought the Neogliberalism doctrine in over 30 years ago. But I guess they’ve got to fight for relevance at the trough among all the other self important do nothings. Getting an actual job with concomitant pay cut just wouldn’t be in their makeup.

  11. Why are same-sex attracted women so in love with migrants?

    Does their wokeness pay for their trips to the barber?

    • I reckon there’s a library full of PhDs waiting to be written on that question.

    • robert2013MEMBER

      They don’t breed so they need plenty of desperate workers to look after them when they get old.

    • They’re not in love with migrants they’re in live with paths to power. Fran, Jennifer Whingealot, Sally, Penny. Like a few men one just retiring… But it’s as swampy says, irrelevant, same numbers as any other category.

  12. mikef179MEMBER

    How many investment properties do the people at the top of the ACTU own? Likely there will be your answer.

  13. I’ve been to a union social evening (union workers from various unions).

    They all openly laughed at how much money (a lot) they get.

    A damaging lot.

    Sad to see unions end up like this.

  14. These days unions seem to exist to protect the system & much like politics give people the illusion of choice, heads or tails nothing changes.

    Similar to all these regulators which protect the system not the people.