Federal election 2016: CFMEU labourers on $150,000 a year

Federal election 2016: CFMEU labourers on $150,000 a year, by Elizabeth Colman.

Workers on the nation’s building sites are being paid “reckless” wages under union agreements, with labourers earning vastly more than teachers, police officers and nurses.

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday branded agreements between the militant construction union and building firms as “shocking”, vowing that the Coalition “will stop” the 15 per cent, three-yearly wage rises built into deals if it wins the July 2 election.

… certain construction workers along the eastern seaboard are being paid up to 85 per cent above award rates.

Carpenters on union enterprise agreements struck under the Queensland Palaszczuk government last year are being paid $160,702, … Those in NSW are paid $152,002 … in Vic­toria … a carpenter is paid $163,000 for a 51-hour week.

Compare that to around $50 – 70k for nurses, firefighters, police officers, and secondary school teachers, though they work shorter weeks.

On a 40-hour week, the basic pay for a carpenter on a CFMEU deal is $85,402 in Queensland and $80,356 in NSW — far above the award of $49,110 and far above the average annual take-home pay for a teacher at $66,000 for a 42-hour week or $61,000 for a firefighter. Police officers take home $56,000 a year and registered nurses are paid $55,000 for a 35-hour week.

Skilled labourers on union deals also earn top-tier salaries. A labourer earns $152,002 for a 51-hour week in Victoria on the CFMEU EBA, $145,000 in Queensland, and $139,000 in NSW for a 55-hour week. A worker doing the same job earns $80,760 on the award.

Clearly market forces are being successfully stymied by the unions. Jobs for that money would attract a flood of new job-seekers, bidding down the wages, but the monopoly feature of the union prevents that from happening. The Labor Party is the child of the unions, so they have political protection for exercising their monopoly. Unions work well for some members!

Unduly high wages are nearly always because of being able to escape the discipline of the market. Naturally everyone wants everyone else’s wages to be set by a free and open market — so they pay less for other peoples goods and services — whilst their own recompense is free from market discipline.

It continually amazes me that, despite the rhetoric from the economists and politicians, even today vast swathes of people have managed to escape market forces to some degree. Monopolies, political quirks, and the side effects of our current system of money manufacture by banks seem to be the main mechanisms.