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Unions Take Anger Out On Local Business

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Jason Frecklington, his daughter Lucy and staff member Belinda Tatnell

December 1, 2012

Kingaroy businessman Jason Frecklington is angry that union frustration over job losses at Tarong Power Station is being taken out on his business, potentially putting more jobs at risk.

Recently he learned that unions had called for a boycott of his business in Shoppingworld just because his wife is local MP Deb Frecklington.

“No one from the unions has contacted me or had the guts to talk to my staff and tell them they want to put their jobs at risk,” Jason told today.

He learned of the boycott, which was announced at a joint union meeting, from comments from his customers.

“People have come up and asked me, ‘How is the boycott affecting you?’. On a couple of occasions wives have said ‘My husband would kill me if he knew I was here’,” he said.

Jason has nine staff members, five adults and four teenagers, and he says the boycott is putting their jobs in jeopardy.

Business has dropped 15 per cent from the same time last year. About 5 per cent of this Jason attributes to new competition but once the boycott was called, business suddenly dropped another 10 per cent.

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington released the following statement:

Following Stanwell Corporation’s announcement to place two units at the Tarong Power Station into cold storage, the ETU, CFMEU and others have started a deceptive and malicious campaign against the Newman Government Cabinet, myself and a local business owned and operated by my family

The misinformation being spread by the unions that I and the Newman Government Cabinet approved the cold storage decision at Tarong is completely incorrect.

The decision was taken by the Board of Stanwell Corporation. It was not a decision of Cabinet or a decision in which I had any involvement. 

When I was notified of the decision, I expressed my extreme disappointment as I was acutely aware of the impact the decision would have on the local community.

Whilst I am able to bear the verbal abuse from the unions and their members I find it despicable that the ETU and CFMEU instructed members to boycott a business operated by my family which employs locals and supports other local businesses.

If the unions wish to punish the parties responsible for the circumstances which have led to Stanwell Corporation’s decision, then they should withdraw their financial support for the Australian Labor Party and the Greens.

It was the former Labor Government which pedalled the overly generous solar rebate schemes which have led to an oversupply of power on the Queensland grid. Furthermore, Labor broke an election commitment and implemented the Carbon Tax to appease the Greens, which has had a disproportionate impact on Queensland coal-fired generations like Tarong.

It is these decisions by Labor that now create the circumstance under which relatively efficient coal fired power stations must be shut down, as the power they generate is displaced by the more expensive power generated by roof top solar systems.

As an MP and a local business woman, I support business and jobs in my electorate of Nanango.

I will continue to be a strong advocate for my constituents and I call on the ETU and CFMEU to come clean with their members and concede that Labor policies used to shore up support from the Greens have let its members down, and to stop boycotting local businesses.”

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23 Responses to Unions Take Anger Out On Local Business

  1. Damien

    Don’t forget that solar power doesn’t pump the atmosphere with toxic pollutants like coal fire does. Maybe get the windfarm up and running and all these workers can work there (as well as hundreds of other jobs created). Stop listening to rednecks who think they’re bad. Visit a windfarm and realise they’re not “cow killers” or loud. Get with the rest of the country, South Burnett – you’re only about 30 years behind!

  2. Jenny Thomson

    This really makes my blood boil. I had some sympathy for the unions until I saw this story. But hearing they’re trying to kill off the jobs of our innocent kids has made my sympathy evaporate. I guess this is why they’ve been trying to keep this “boycott” such a secret. This sort of behaviour is deeply un-Australian and they know it.

  3. John Box

    I can’t understand the logic behind union members boycotting the Frecklington business when the decision to put 2 units at Tarong into cold storage was made by the Stanwell Board for economic business reasons. Check the records and you will find that Deb Frecklington spoke against the Stanwell Board decision. No matter what party you support, have a good look at the exceptional record and effort that Deb Frecklington has put in for the Nanango Electorate since her election before carrying out bully boy tactics against her family.

  4. Jack Stricker

    Talk about bullying in the workplace. The unions should know – they are experts at it… along with discrimination another field they are expert in

  5. I wonder if all the people that signed the petition NOT to sell Adermann Park fell the same way about boycotting his store. Jason was one of the few who didn’t want to sign the petition as he was in favor of allowing St Johns to purchase the public park for development. That’s OK by me, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I certainly don’t believe that boycotting any local business due to political association or personal beliefs is a good thing on either matter. I do recommend the coffee at The Whipbird Cafe for those who would like to try somewhere different for a change.

  6. Lost Confidence

    @John – Stanwell was forced by the Qld government to downsize. It’s no coincidence that Ergon, Energex, and Powerlink are doing the same (among many others). If you can now properly check the records, Qld Treasury approved the proposal of Stanwell, and have a look at the people who signed off on this…

    @Jenny – The boycott was never a secret. Just think how many jobs there will be when 200+ families leave the area. To boot, if your had any refined taste, you would know that Gloria Jeans coffee is rubbish. Next time you have a coffee there, tell those ‘innocent kids’ they should stop burning the coffee.

    @Damien – Get a clue. I guarantee that you are one of those people who whine about power prices. Wind power is extremely expensive and most rely on subsidies (I’m sure the LNP would love that…). Also, power produced from a single wind turbine is tiny to the area it takes. Don’t get me started about solar power. Get an Electrical Engineering degree, get an understanding about electricity, and maybe then you’ll understand why solar and wind energies aren’t the silver bullet.

    Also, what a ridiculous statement ‘get with the rest of the country’. What an idiot…

    • The bigger picture

      Thanks for describing the bigger picture here Lost Confidence!

      You are totally right, we elected our local member for a reason and she should be working in Parliament to support employment in our area, not claiming that the govt has nothing to do with what goes on in govt-owned corporations.

      This is not just about a few “innocent kids”, we are talking about 100s of jobs and 100s of families leaving the area, this will affect all businesses in the area and will hurt more than 15%.

      If Deb Frecklington doesn’t like it, she should do her job and fix the problem. Unfortunately she seems to not even understand the problem. 400MW of solar power that only generates on sunny days does not make a huge difference in the Queensland market of 8000-9000MW, it’s all the gas generators that are the problem. Yes that is due to the 13% gas rule (thanks Labor) but it’s the LNP that is now in a position to change the system, not just point fingers.

      This is just a ploy to draw attention away from the real issues. I’m actually a bit disappointed in South Burnett Online for publishing this as it is not the real story at all.

  7. Martin Stern

    I think the Union is out of order in doing this. Lets face it our local MP is only a puppet like all the rest answerable to Mr Seeney and Mr Newman. It is not like you can have a different opinion, you must toe the party line which, at the moment, is destroying Qld even more than the previous Government. Anger should be vented at Newman and Seeney who are the only ones that call the shots. Thankfully they will only be in 2 terma at the most.

  8. Bonny

    It’s just ridiculous that a few narrow-minded short-sighted individuals feel the need to take their frustrations out on others. I for one was always taught that two wrongs don’t make a right (not that we have done anything wrong at all but I’m speaking more of a perceived wrong doing) and to walk away is to be the better man. I made a statement on my Facebook page that it reminds me of some kind of storybook tale of Tarzan standing up in front of a group of people banging his chest and proclaiming that because all the fruit has fallen from the trees from the heat that someone has to pay. Such macho immature behaviour has amazed me and to think these are the adults of our community meant to be setting a good example for our youth. Perhaps they should consider how their negative influences are impacting on their own families as well and have a think about the example they are setting for their own children. I fail to see the rationale behind their actions and beliefs that making me lose my job, because they have lost theirs, will make everything right and equal in the world. I was a single mother of a 13-month-old child when I first started working at Gloria Jeans and having this job has meant a much better life for my son and I. I am now newly engaged and things are looking up for me and my family largely due to the opportunity I have been given by Jason as an employer. I plan to stay in this town and raise my family in this community because of the large majority of wonderful people who live here and would give you the shirt off their own back if you needed it so to speak. Something that I have both witnessed and experienced first hand. It’s very upsetting to think that I have to keep defending my own job and future because of an angry irrational minority.

  9. Jack Stricker

    Union democracy – isn’t that where a pair of thugs circulate among the members during a meeting, to make sure they vote the right way? That’s what a friend of mine who was a union member said.

  10. Jack Stricker

    Don’t worry, Jason, the union guys just can’t afford the coffee they are too busy trying to pay the pad off

  11. Mickd

    Unions are just bone head thugs and just plain gutless parasites.When will people see what unions are really for…intimidation….thuggery ….pathetic excuses for men banding together to demand their issues like spoilt children

  12. Mel

    Easy on the union bashing. What they’re trying to do to Jason Frecklington is just straight out stupid. But if there were no unions, there’d still be kids down mines, women working for a pittance, no long service leave, no holiday pay, no penalty rates. There’d be even more workers being killed and injured than the disgraceful number that are now. No unions is the dream of the super rich and multinationals. Workers deserve a share of the rewards of their labour. If they don’t it’s just slavery. A lot of rich men would love to be slave owners, but that doesn’t make it right.

    • The unions have certainly brainwashed you, Mel. I have been working since 1958 without the so called benefits of union membership. Workplace conditions advance as rapidly as technology, knowledge and skills advance. If anything, unions have a habit of preventing change, or at least slowing it down, because as technology, knowledge and skills advance, unions become less relevant. When unions make a business unworkable, the owners cut back staff and move up to automation, importation and less labour intensive venture investment. Union political power stays the same, but the members end up without jobs. The unions’ vicious actions against a family coffee shop are recognisable as ALP/union political activity, or should be to most people. The politics of hate has a far reaching effect on the community.

  13. John Box

    “Lost Confidence” and others using first names – let’s be a bit more open and transparent if you have something to say. Bringing in comment on Adermann Park is a pretty low act Grant Newson. If the voluntary redundancies at Tarong are such a bad thing, has there been a problem with staff volunteering? Has anybody been pressured to apply? How many volunteers are the union delegates inciting members to boycott the Frecklington business? Don’t get me wrong – the loss of any families from our wonderful South Burnett community is very disappointing.

  14. One of the things I find disappointing about this is Ms Frecklington MP seems to be more interested in the family business, by posting this article on her official FB page, rather than more important local issues that an MP should be concentrating on.

    Ms Frecklington was informed of situations relating to the Kingaroy Hospital some time ago and I understood that she was going to raise this issue in Parliament. (Haven’t found anywhere that has happened yet.) This situation has gotten worse, peoples health put at serious risk and injuries not being treated, but Mr Frecklington seems more concerned about coffee.

    Being a member of the LNP, she was empowered by the people of the South Burnett and entrusted with the future prosperity of this region. I do not call her a ‘puppet’ in this current circus, more of a learner driver that has been given a Porsche to play with. Their agenda for Qld would have been explained in detail to all LNP Candidates prior to the Election, so Mr Frecklington knew what was ahead. Unfortunately, voters were not truthfully informed of this.

    Ultimately, Jason and his coffee shop will always be associated with decisions of the LNP and current Nanango MP, just as Pratt crop dusting was probably influenced by Dorothys’ actions.(not that people had as many crop dusting choices as coffee shops).

    • JC

      Grant – I’ve got to say – you are gifted at threading together unrelated issues, leaving a reader confused on where you stand on issues of importance to South Burnett residents! On your “official” Facebook page on Nov 13, after sharing another person’s encouraging message to support local businesses, you posted the following comment – “This is what I’m doing this year and I’ve already started. How often do you shop local mom and pop businesses?”. Deb’s right to discuss openly the un-South Burnett and uncivil behaviour of a small group of individuals and to expose their strategy to take actions outside their union membership charter and bully, intimidate and intentionally defame her husband’s business (a mum and dad business I suggest to you). For all we know, Grant, how many other innocent small businesses and people unknowingly become impacted by this choice of behaviour? Small business, education (ie St John’s school, too), agriculture, food processing are the backbone of the South Burnett industry and employment base. Please don’t wedge these against each other for the sake of being heard. I strongly urge you to live your FB post of 13 Nov and support ALL mums and dad businesses equally…keep the politics and union agendas confined to the space they belong – between the employer, the employee, and IF needed, a union representative.

      • @JC I am sorry if I confused you with various points within that post. Limited to 1500 characters does have an bearing on my posts. I noticed that posts ventured into solar & wind farms here.. bit off the topic too.

        1). I definitely recommend supporting ‘Mum and Dad’ Businesses, and I do so whenever and wherever I can. I would include myself in that ‘locally owned and operated’ category of a small business. Have done so within the Sth Burnett area for more than 12 yrs and for over 25 yrs in total. No doubt it may/may not have been affected by my political persuasion, I accept that, very little I can do will change the reasoning of some. I certainly don’t have a press article claiming that this may/may not be happening.

        2). With Kingaroy and Sth Burnett being financially supported by Tarong/Stanwell for many decades now, any hiccup in that relationship has a major flow on effect into every business, big or small, within the community. My earlier post stated my position in regarding the Union activity, but I did notice Mrs Frecklington was absent at the Union rally held in Kingaroy recently:

        I have read her press release on the issue, but a personal touch is needed in some cases. If she can’t stand the political heat, then get out of the political oven.

        3). I can honestly say I have had a coffee/mocha in each and every ‘coffee shop’ so far that I have come across in Kingaroy (and elsewhere). Certainly not short of choice.

        Hope that enlightens some topics for you JC.

  15. Jack Stricker

    Hang on Grant The greens story about coal powered power stations going to destroy the world. Now you are singing the praises of Tarong keeping the local community going through the power generation in the South Burnett. You can’t have it both ways pal