Ridiculous Scare Campaign From The ACTU

One of the most retarded campaigns I’ve ever heard of.

Three low paid American workers on an Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)-funded visit are warning Australians of the dangers of non-unionised workplaces.

ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the three Americans were an example of what Australians could expect in the future.

One of them, Iris Flores, works as a full-time bus driver for $US10.89 ($A12.86) an hour and a part-time cleaner for $US8 ($A9.45) an hour for up to 14 hours a day without annual leave, sick leave or private health cover.

Her daughter works at a restaurant for $US2.50 ($A2.95) an hour.

If this is the best the ACTU can come up with, they should really just disband.

Firstly and most obviously, Restaurant waitresses earn tips in the US, which they do not in Australia. Tips are the majority of their income. If anything, service workers in the US earn more in total than what they do in Australia.

Secondly, they completely ignore purchasing power parity. Everything is simply a lot cheaper in the US. Literally everything. A dollar earned there buys more than it does here.

I learned that concept in year 11 Economics class. Obviously everyone at the ACTU dropped out in year 10.

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21 Comments on “Ridiculous Scare Campaign From The ACTU”

  1. Mark Hill Says:

    The ACTU should learn one other fact: I doubt waitresses pay income tax on tips.

    In some places you have to pay to be a barista or a waiter, and your pay is the tips.

    It just shows in those places that the waiters have the market power and the restaurant must make the market.

  2. Mark Hill Says:

    Um, in low paid places the staff have “market power”, that is.

  3. 9 * $13 = $117
    5 * $9 = $45

    That makes $162 per day

    Assuming 5 days a week that means $810 per week, or about $3300 per month, or about $40k per year. And she pays less tax than Australian workers.

    Oh, the poor darling. Are these the poorest people they can find in America now?

  4. Yobbo Says:

    Apparently so.

  5. Yobbo Says:

    And I’m pretty sure that as a bus driver, she’d have health cover.

  6. Mark Hill, US taxation law “deems” tip earning workers. Their tip income is deemed to be a percentage of the sales they make. They are taxed on this deemed amount.

    All quite a shock for us Ozzis for whom paying or receiving a gratuity is very very very much the exception rather than the rule.

  7. David Crawford Says:


    The US tax law assumes that a waiter/waitress or bartender earns 8% in tips on all food and drink they serve. In real life, an American waiter/waitress or bartender usually earns about 15% to 20%, at least, in tips.

    Here’s what happens when I go down to my local tavern:

    One bottle of Steinlager (25.7 oz.) = $4.00. I give the bartender $5.00, and leave them the $1.00 change as a tip. The tax code requires that they claim a $0.32 tip. ($4.00 X 8% = $0.32.)

    Further, I usually pull $20 in pull-tabs. By tradition the bartender gets 10% of any big prize I win. (A big prize is anything over $50, up to $599.) These tips are un-addressed in the tax code, and the tip to the bartender is tax-free. I’ve seen bartenders earn $100 to $150 in pull-tab tips in one evening. (They earn the tips becuase, quite frankly, pull-tabs are a real pain the ass for a bartender in a busy tavern.)

    Finally, where i drink at, they have 3 bartenders that work in the evening. For each of them it is a part-time job. And each of them pulls down $1,000 to $2,000 for ten nights work (about 80 hours.).

  8. David Crawford Says:

    And each of them pulls down $1,000 to $2,000 for ten nights work per month (about 80 hours.) And a majority of that money is un-taxed, cash, and straight into their pocket at night’s end..

  9. conrad Says:

    It is pretty poor — even without the cleaning work, she’s earning around $500 a week — its not exactly starvation wages.

  10. Mark Hill Says:

    Australian real effective exchnage rates are lower than the nominal rates too.

    I think John’s calculation should be really closer to $185 per day instead of $162.

  11. Princess josie Says:

    The reason this campaign works so well is that you may well be the only person who actually remembers what they learned in year 11 economics. I would like a dollar for every customer I’ve served in retail that “can’t see wht we pay so much for things that are so much cheaper in America.”

    And just to be all left about it (I can’t help it, it’s a genetic family trait) once the pendulum of our economic circumstances swings back from boomy to gloomy no one will have the power to negotiate their employment conditions because they’ll be scrapping tooth and nail with each other to take what vacancies they can get, regardless of the pay and conditions thrown at them.

  12. nick Says:

    And why would anyone be trying to negotiate their employment conditions during an economic downturn? If jobs are scarce, then people will make do or they will be unemployed – simple supply and demand. Union BS won’t help then either.

  13. Princess josie Says:

    I completely agree that people would have to make do. My point is that people have obviously begun to take for granted the working conditions that they enjoyed pre-AWA or they wouldn’t have let them go so easily.

    The fact is we have (had) minimum wage, leave entitlements, compensation and recourse for unfair dismissal because unions fought for them over a long period of time. Had we not given them up so apathetically then they would still be in place in times of economic downturn, so if you had to make do with any job at least your entitlements would still come along with it.

  14. nick Says:

    The minimum wage prices low skilled people out of employment. It is better gone. Leave entitlements are meaningful to some and not to others. Mandatory leave entitlements are surplus to requirements. Compensation and recourse for unfair dismissal – again, things that should be decided case by case rather than by ‘one size fits all’ laws. For example, if I employ someone, and they don’t meet my expectations after a trial period, or if the nature and or volume of my business changes in that period, then I should be able to let them go without fighting for it in a tribunal or other kangaroo court. Similarly, when I put time and money into training an employee, who then leaves for whatever reason, should I be able to have recourse to compensation? Unions are part of the past – their declining membership and relevance show this. The current surge in their media profile is, hopefully, the last twitches of a dying beast.

  15. Princess Josie Says:

    This is so hard-hearted. Is it really worth people working for less than a minimum wage if it fails to support them? It’s simplistic to think that being underemployed (or underpaid) is better than unemployment. Forget about fiscal considerations, what about basic human dignity? How worthwhile would you feel battling in an economy that sets the price of a latte at $5 and you have to work a solid half hour to afford one?

    I guess I cannot put the priorities of business over my concerns for people’s quality of life. Everybody should have leave. Everyone needs time to just ‘be’. We can’t continually ‘do’ without respite, that’s the definition of a machine (even they need maintainance).

    Sit back, Nick, have a little ‘you’ time and find the inner human. To say unions are an anachronism is to say that people are as well. The union represents the human capacity to support one another and work together in a manner that is more selfless than I’ve seen in any other way in these individualistic times. You don’t need to chide me for being idealistic – I already know but frankly I prefer it so I hope you can respect it. : )

  16. nick Says:

    I will be happy to respect your views if you will be happy to respect mine (and that is certainly meant to sound far less harsh than it looks on screen). My personal view is that a job gives far more dignity to a person than a handout. An ‘underemployed’ person can have their ‘basic needs’ paid for with a cost of living allowance (baby bonus/family tax benefit/30/30 tax system…) and still enjoy the dignity of work. Unemployment is toxic – I really believe that. I feel a well functioning economy can tend to its weaker members far more readily than a dysfunctional but ‘less hard-hearted’ system such as the one you describe. Good business means doing the right thing by people – my staff are all employed as casuals because that is what they chose – it gives them a higher pay rate and more flexibility. It also makes my workforce flexible and gives my business the ability to adapt. Incidentally, the money I make from my business allows me to effectively donate my time and expertise to several groups who would otherwise not be able to benefit. It also allows me to make allowances for those who cannot pay. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I see WorkChoices as a tool to improve the economy such that everyone can benefit. That’s what I hope, and that’s how I use it. Others may ‘rip people off’, but those sort of people will exist under Labor, and under Unions. I also think I would enjoy having a latte with you sometime – i think we want the same things – we just have different thoughts about how to get there…

    regards, and sorry for the rambling post

  17. Mark Hill Says:

    Why do you think some low skilled people are chronically unemployed Josie?

    Minimum wages are well-intentioned, but have poor results.

  18. Princess Josie Says:

    I most certainly respect you views because you have presented them so eloquently and you have a holistic view on what it means to be human (which I admit I was unsure about).

    I also agree that unemployment is toxic as it solidifies a person’s sense of low-self esteem, sending them into a spiralling process of failure.

    My biggest fear is that while I am an unapologetic idealist I do have enough sense of reality to know that not all employers would be as considerate of their employees as you have demonstrated and would take shameless advantage of them to line their own pockets – call me cynical.

    Just so you know, latte – or any type of caffine – makes me a little jumpy. No probs about the content of your rambling post but, as an English teacher, I must insist on paragraphs.

    p.s Mark – It’s Princess (given name I swear)

  19. nick Says:

    Not all employers will be considerate. I would expect inconsiderate employers to be ignored by staff in favour of better employers. I also think that the idea of characterising employers as ‘greedy, shameless robber barons’ is a variant of the mindset that describes the unemployed and low paid as ‘lazy, shiftless bums’. Both are no doubt true in some cases – but in some cases only.

    My idealism stretches to believing in ‘the market’ and its ability to deliver good outcomes to a greater extent than any other form of ideology (so far). However, everything has a down side, and capitalism/’the market’ may not be perfect. I don’t think idealism is incompatible with a progressive economy.

    I also agree with Mark’s comment above.

  20. Mark Hill Says:

    The reason why minimum wages are so deleterious is because there are some people who will never have high enough productivity to be employed at the legal rate of compensation unless they take an entry level position at a lower rate.

    Taking on a job teaches people basic skills on the job and across all work, it also acts as a screening mechanism say for former drug addicts and those who have been in and out of gaol, never previously holding down work.

    Labour is employed for it’s productivity, and employees will nearly always screen formally or informally because of fiduciary relations and contract rigidities and search costs.

    A minimum wage never allows some poeple to develop their productivity and makes the information assymetry for their potential employers too high.

    The result is a large pool of long-term unemployed.

  21. I like reading through a post that can make men
    and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

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