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Mark Buttigieg Encourages Australians to Join Unions

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Mark Buttigieg is a member of the Labor Party and member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. Prior to entering politics in 2019, Mr. Buttigieg was an organiser for the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Mark Buttigieg addressing the NSW Legislative Council, with the text "Mark Buttigieg" foregrounded

Interview with Jordan Shanks

Mr. Buttigieg was recently interviewed by Jordan Shanks and discussed unions and Australian politics. During the interview, Mr. Buttigieg encouraged Australians to join unions:

"...It's really important that we rebuild that up so that people understand what unions have actually done for this country in terms of, look, it's, it's a really simple equation, right? On one side you've got capital - concentration of ownership of wealth and income - and the only way that working people can balance it up is to organise collectively as well, and if you organise collectively as well you kind of even up the monopoly power of capital with labor. But if you break up unions and people have to individually try and negotiate with their bosses, obviously there's a massive power imbalance. Wage conditions go downhill."

Mr. Buttigieg also commented on Australia’s manufacturing industry and importing infrastructure from the international community:

“We should make our trains and infrastructure here because of all the dodgy experiences we’ve had with the new inner-city fleet and the ferries that didn’t fit under bridges, and asbestos and all the rest of it so it’s like ‘Well seriously, why are we making this stuff overseas? Why are we exporting jobs and getting dud products that superficially might be cheaper in terms of the sticker price, but by the time we end up fixing all the stuff ups, we have a billion dollars of overruns that the tax payers have to pick up plus we haven’t created the jobs, right?’”

In response to Mr. Shanks' suggestion that a particular class of politicians view Australian politics as a chess game as opposed to a field in which to improve people’s lives, Mr. Buttigieg responded:

“Very much so. It becomes more about the object of power rather than what I’m actually going to do when I get the power. ‘Hang on, I’m here now, I’ve maneuvered myself along the chess board – what should I actually do to make a difference?'”

Electrical Trades Union & 2018 Strike

In this capacity as organiser for the ETU, Mr. Buttigieg supported thousands of Ausgrid electricity workers across New South Wales who voted to strike in 2018 as a result of poor negotiations regarding pay and career progression. The ETU claimed that wages had been frozen for 3 years and, during that same period, they had seen almost 2000 jobs lost. In a statement Mr. Buttigieg reported the contrast between workers and executives:

“During this same time, Ausgrid executives awarded themselves pay increases averaging 5.3% a year, while they also enjoyed average bonuses of more than $50,000 each in 2014, 2015 and 2016."

Conflicts of Interest in the Property Sector

Mr. Buttigieg has been vocal regarding conflicts of interest in the property sector, with regards to Hawkesbury councillor, Sarah Richards, and her partner, Matthew Bennett and Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce, raising these matters in parliament and criticising NSW's current property laws:

"The purpose of this ... is to show you that this legislation is impotent, ineffective and dysfunctional and doesn't protect the NSW ratepayer."

Chamber of Parliament Boycott

Mr. Buttigieg was critical of the Berejkilian government with regards to ministers boycotting parliament:

"The Berejiklian government needs to front up and stop hiding, they must be accountable to the people of our state. The chambers of parliament should not be sitting empty, there is work to be done. Labor will be there in the chamber today waiting – I hope the government stops running scared from accountability."

Sources & Further Reading

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