Variations of this letter to both the "Sydney Morning Herald" and "The Australian" in response to attacks on the MUA this week went unpublished
No $50,000 pay rise under WorkChoices? (The Australian 8/2). Well firstly the offshore wage claim that has been exciting the Opposition workplace relations spokesman Senator Eric Abetz to almost daily press releases is more in the vicinity of $30,000 over four years.
Secondly it is the nature of the beast - a multi billion dollar development with skills shortages and no wage parity - not the colour of the government that is behind the wage claims.
The argument for the wage increases for offshore divers by the MUA back in 2007 under the Howard Government was exactly the same as the current argument for seafarers. At the time, under WorkChoices, divers got 43%-65% wage increases that recognised - like this catch up - that WorkChoices was pushing wages up through individual contracts resulting in wage inequities between offshore workers doing similar work. The consequential collective agreements just recognised that, as is the case this time.
Relatively speaking, it is nothing compared to the greed in the boardrooms where executive pay had blown out by 250% under the stewardship of Senator Abetz's government. That's about $3m-$4m a year pay hikes without productivity tradeoff, unless you count the Global Financial Crisis as one of their achievements.