Rodney Hide has giving the unions a good old fashioned bashing in the NBR:
Unions derive their bully-boy power from Parliament.
It used to be they got their power from good old-fashioned thuggery.
But now Parliament saves them the effort.
Parliament has given unions power that no other organisations enjoy.
They have these powers simply so they can abuse them.
Take s97 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. It serves to turn ordinary strike action into a lethal weapon. The section prevents employers using replacement workers in the event of a strike.
It has never existed in statute before, even going back to the dim, dark days of industrial action.
Employers have always historically been entitled to bring in replacement labour. It makes sense.
It puts a limit on the ability of unions to abuse the strike process. And enables businesses to stay afloat.
Unions are ably assisted by Comrade Kate who has been approached many, many timed over s97 and still refuses any action on it. S(7 is an evil pice of legislation allowing shameless union bullying.
Besides, whose business is it? I have no trouble with anyone choosing to strike. But I also think that employers should be free to bring in replacement workers.
But that’s not how it works in New Zealand now. S97 adds some big muscle to union bullying power.
It’s a power that unions have historically never had in New Zealand and unions in other countries don’t enjoy. The only exceptions are Japan, Korea and Mexico.
The Employment Contracts Act 1991 never had such a provision. Nor did its predecessors, the Labour Relations Act 1987, the Industrial Relations Act 1973, the Industrial Relations Act 1949, the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1925 and 1908.
S97 is an entirely new development in industrial law. It can cripple any business and enables unions to blackmail bosses.
Unions only exist through blackmail.
The Dairy Union went on strike in 2009 while bargaining with Open Country Cheese. The union was seeking initially a 45% wage-cost increase and later between 15% and 25%.
At the time they were already earning twice the average wage and had a wage-cost per tonne of product twice that of other plants.
Open Country Cheese brought in outside workers.
If they hadn’t, a million litres a day of milk would have been dumped on land, cows would have been dried off, causing harm to the herds and a seasonal loss of income to farmers and the region of up to $70 million.
The case went to the Court of Appeal. It held that Open Country Cheese was wrong to use other workers from within the same wholly owned group of companies and farmer volunteers. That’s how s97 operates.
It’s a shocking section that gives shocking power to unions.
Extortion, blackmail, standover…all legal under our current employment laws.But will National act? Not while Comrade Kate is Minister of Labour.
The National-led government should just get rid of it.
Labour is beholden to union muscle and would have no choice but to fight the change.
That would suit National. Middle voters tempted to swing back to Labour would see exactly what Labour stands for and would stick with National.
Middle voters, especially in the present economic climate, don’t believe for a second that unions should be able to shoot down a business at will.
National should go for it. It would make Labour squirm. And it would be a good shot in the arm for business.
Good policy is seldom good politics. But getting rid of section 97 is both.