The thoughts, opinions, happenings, and just plain ramblings of a seemingly boring person.

Compulsory Unionism

Yesterday the UQ Union stuff arrived in the mail which included all the usual garbage.

For all those not familiar with UQ and the the Union, here's some background info for this blog: All UQ students are also by default members of the UQ Union, and pay a semesterly 'Student Services Charge' (now $136) of which most (if not all) goes to the Union. As stated in this years send-out, the constitutional ethos of the union is "service, support, representation".

Sound ok doesn't it?


What i haven't meantioned so far is that the Union is mainly comprised of Socialists, Communists, Hippies, homosexuals, Howard-bashers, and basically any other minority that can fit in as long as they belong to the political left. (if i've left any out let me know!)

For these people, the Union is their bastion of University political power. But all of this i don't have a problem with. Although i don't necessarily like, or associate with, most of the above mentioned groups (i am not a socialist, a communist, a hippie, a homosexual, and i am not left: and although i am not a completely right wing, i do lean toward that side), i have no problem with them having their own organisation to represent them. That is their democratic right.

What i DO have a problem with is me being forced to be a member of this so called 'Union'. They really do not represent me in any way (other than me simply being a student, which seems to be a low priority to the other groups mentioned above).

The whole notion of what i call 'compulsory unionism' is contradictory in so many ways it's not funny. All over uni there are Union posters proclaiming our to be in a union. By the same token I, and those like me, should have our right NOT to be in a Union. This should be OUR democratic right.

When the Union uses our money contributed to them in the form of the student services charge to fund people to go to South Australia and protest at some detention facility, this really ticks me off. I wouldn't give half a toss about this if i wasn't FORCED to give money to these people and be a member of their organisation.

What i want the hardcore UQ Union people to recognise is how unfair and undemocratic this compulsory unionism is, and before they start using the democratic system, both in uni and in all other political arenas, to push their own agendas (most of which demand fairness, equality, and democracy), they should realise how unfair, unequal, and undemocratic their own so called 'Union' is.

5 thoughts on “Compulsory Unionism”

  1. (oh c'mon, you know i had to respond.)

    [andrew's thoughts: there are several ways that i could tackle this. i could say 'look at griffith' - while perhaps humourous, it's also irrelevant. so i think i'll run with 'it's not all bad...']

    the uqu doesn't just fund buses to go to south australia and protest at the detention centre's (which i agree, a waste of money). it's also a fundamental way to ensure that students are represented in other spheres - timetabling, subject choice - and to provide services - the gym, the bookstore, the cafe's.

    not only that, but what would replace it? a right wing organisation, by it's nature, is exclusiveist. the left is notorious for being a giant golf umbrella organisation - having all sorts of views within it's general perview.

    the union is entirely democratic, in the same way that the country is democratic (which it's not, but we'll leave that for another time). the student body, by virtue of it being in the university, is in the union, and is able to vote on who represents them. the citizens of australia, by virtue of them being in australia, is in the voting bloc, and is able to vote on who represents them.
    oh, and you're forced to be a member of australia, too. i mean, you can leave the country; but you can transfer to qut as well.

    (yay! how mad is arguing a cause that i don't support myself?)

    besides, wouldn't you want to be involved in the 80's shoulderpadded party? : P


  2. first of all, the gyms, the bookstore, the cafes, the refecs, all still charge money for their services, and in most cases, its the same amount irrespective of whether you're a UQ student or not.

    Don't get me wrong, i'm not saying representation is bad, its not. And I?m not saying the Union should be replaced, it does an adequate job for the people that actually use it. What I am saying is that membership should be optional, like all workforce unions.

    You can?t compare the Union to the state, they?re two entirely different realms. I equate it to being a like a union in a workplace. If you want to have the option of being part of a union, there shouldn?t be anything stopping you. But if you don?t want to be part of union, you shouldn?t be MADE TO. (you aren?t made to in the workforce, why should you be made to at uni??)

    As I said I wouldn?t give a toss about the Union if I wasn?t FORCED to be a part of it. Being forced to join a union you don?t want to be a part of is totally contradictive to the core tenets of really any union, which basically exists to stop other people from forcing things on their members. Thus the idea of a ?compulsory? union is contradictory to the idea of a union itself, especially one such as the UQU striving for a utopian uni environment.

  3. [i knew there had to be problems with arguing an issue that i don't actively support]

    how many non-uq students actually use the facilities? very few, i'd imagine - which just means that they're making the operators lives a lot easier by not having to make two seperate price listings. subsidy, however, would still make lives easier for students.

    how would you propose that the uqu represents all students if they only have the colloquial lefties? how would you propose that the uqu do an adequate job for the student body if they don't have the financial support from the student body?

    moreover, why is it that it's leftist? because the same problem that happens in america - only the extremes have a say, because only the extremes care. if you get all the middle-of-the-road people to vote - perhaps even to support a party - you'll find that the uqu represents you a lot better.

    compulsory unionism existed in the workforce for quite a while. this made the union very strong, and made it quite easy to negotiate pay rises with the government. guess what? no strikes. did wonders for australia.

    being a small country, we need to band together if we are able to survive. evidence - we are forced to vote. if our population was 5 or 10 times the size, we wouldn't need compulsory voting; as it stands, we do, just to make sure that we represent the people.

    i can see no essential differences between being part of a university and having to accept the union, to being part of a country and having to accept the government. can you elaborate on what makes the analogy null and/or void?

    [i love these games 🙂 ]


  4. Lucas i am with you 100%.
    although a funny comment you said, "What I am saying is that membership should be optional, like all workforce unions."

    I have found little unions of any kind that have been "optional", for example the CFMEU's policy is you dont have to be in a union, but if your not your not working on this site.

    but yeah. it would be a much better worl if unionism was actually optional, an people could choose to be represented by this group, or alternatively be smart and adopt individual workplace agreements.

  5. Well, optional in the true sense...
    Cheerfully withdrawn!

    And to andrew, i would rather pay an extra 10c for everything i eat at a refec for a particular semester to pay my $130 rather than giving it all in one sum and still have to pay for food.


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