Aug 9, 2017

That was then, this is now: Martin Ferguson’s head-spinning 180 on union power

Martin Ferguson used to be a unionist and a Labor stalwart. So what's he doing shilling for the mining industry and saying unions have too much power?

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


Last night's speech to the Sydney Institute, wherein Martin Ferguson argued the federal government should roll back the elements of the Fair Work Act that give unions too much power over enterprise bargaining and right of entry, was exactly the sort of union bashing the Minerals Council excels at. But Mar'n is something of a strange mouthpiece for the rent-seeking resources industry, as a former unionist (and president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, no less).

Ferguson was president of the ACTU from 1990 to 1996, during which time the ACTU led the campaign for enterprise bargaining becoming the primary means by which wages were set. From 2007 to 2013 he was a senior minister in the Labor government during the creation of the Fair Work Act, which undid WorkChoices' move to individual bargaining, and solidified the process that the ACTU had put in place. notes he voted consistently for increasing trade unions powers in the workplace

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16 thoughts on “That was then, this is now: Martin Ferguson’s head-spinning 180 on union power

  1. The Curmudgeon

    On a personal level, I feel vindicated that Marn Ferrson is revealed for what he is. Many years ago, I got into a very robust dinner party “debate” with a then senior Law academic who was on the ACTU/ILO gravy train and in whose eyes, Marn could do no wrong. Some of us had worked Marn out long ago.

  2. archibald

    Not to worry, David Feeney is keeping his old seat warm.

  3. [email protected]

    What is it about blue ties? Comes in a gift pack with the corporate credit card and the integrity bypass.
    We sort of knew that many Labour hacks see union appointments as a stepping stone to politics; but then to corporate grandeur?
    Sadly for the average worker, he/she now requires more than ever genuine grass roots workplace representation. Many average workers do not have the skills or will to negotiate their own terms of employment, a weakness that apparently should be exploited according to Ferguson and his new corporate buddies.

  4. pritu

    A Labor Party that still includes him as a member… Now what did Groucho say about that sort of thing…?

  5. Adam

    Only “nearly expelled”!
    I suppose expulsion and a life ban might be a reasonable option when he takes up a seat at the IPA or defects to North Korea…

  6. Paul

    The issue is not what Ferguson is saying but why he still allowed to be a member of the Labor Party, he should have been expelled 3 years ago

  7. Nudiefish

    Bought and paid for and the Mines still have the receipt.

  8. Tom Jones

    Marn is a low grade hypocrite. It must have been a challenge to translate the speech.

  9. shea mcduff

    Follow the money.

  10. AR

    Nobody is surprised when tories exchange Parliament for corporate boards -DNA an’ all – but the roll call of Labor luminaries who have since slithered between the sheets with some of the worst abusers of the nation is becoming overlong indeed.
    Just off the top of my head, Hawke for Burma in the 90s, Dawkins for education scammers, Crean for live exporters, Bligh for bankers, etc.
    Hands up those who were surprised at Mar’n Fer’son taking that job… nah, me neither.

    1. Damon

      You omitted Conroy et al for the casinos. A forgivable one given there’s so many, but important to note, I feel.

    2. Wallywonga

      Labour political experience might be helpful in some areas of management, or on advisory boards.
      But for Ferguson to start spewing anti-union propaganda, with the motive of forcing down wages, surely is the ultimate in treachery, and would be akin to kissing the Abbott’s ring in terms of ideological conversion.

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