Industrial strikes were a part and parcel of growing up in the 1970s and 80s.
My first job as a journalist at the age of 18 was to report the outcome of a meeting between the management and the union at a freezing works company in Palmerston North.
I had been sitting outside the conference room for hours, waiting for the parties to emerge, when legendary union leader Blue Kennedy popped his head out of the door. “Has the girl gone home?” he asked, meaning the secretary.
“Yes, Mr Kennedy,” I squeaked.
“Well, can you make us a pot of tea and bring in some biscuits, then?” he asked nicely.
I did and an agreement was reached and the workers and bosses were happy – and so too was I, because my interviews with the protagonists made Morning Report.
I grew a little tired of covering strikes as a regional reporter; sometimes the reasons for strikes seemed trivial in the extreme.
Of course, these days things have settled somewhat, but there are still unions looking for any excuse to disrupt the employer’s business.
Nevertheless, Kerry McIvor isn’t impressed with Jami-Lee Ross’ bill. She thinks it will be mean!
But I would hate to think MP Jami-Lee Ross’ private member’s bill will ever see the light of day. He’s looking to allow employers to bring in volunteers and contractors to do the work of striking employees, a move now barred under section 97 of the Employment Relations Act.
She then makes a bizarre claim:
Unions don’t take strikes lightly these days. It’s no longer “all out brothers” at the drop of a cold pie on a smoko floor. It’s a measure of last resort, usually employed by low-paid workers or those in dangerous or physically strenuous jobs.
It should be a fundamental right of a worker to withdraw their labour if they feel they are being unfairly and unjustly treated, without the employers being able to hire scabs.
Heh, don;t take strikes lightly eh? What the the greedy Maritime Union? 20 odd hours a week, $90,000 per annum…and they wanted more.
She is also wrong about withdrawing labour. The workers can still withdraw their labour…that right is not removed by the bill. The right of a business to have continuity is now going to be protected…a right they had until 2000 when Helen Clark’s union friendly government took it away.
The fact she uses the word scabs shows where she is coming from…cap doffing union scum, in the thrall of union bosses.
If Kerre McIvor wants to talk about rights then she should understand that Clark’s bill in 2000 removed numerous rights that employers previously enjoyed. Jami-lees bill simply returns that right.