Trade Union

All that is left of the unions are the officials


When I wrote Dodgy Unions I was highlighting just how parlous the situation of unions has become. Falling membership, lack of relevance but the organisations have accumulated vast war chests of cash from past members that the officials keep on dreaming up battles to fight.

The union movement continues to lose workers, but they have transformed themselves into an employment agency for political operatives.

Judith Sloan looks at the demise of unions in Australia.

If the trade union movement in Australia were a company, it would be thinking of filing for bankruptcy. In the early 1990s, its market share was 40 per cent. It is now 15 per cent.

In the private sector, only 10 per cent of workers are members of trade unions in their main jobs. In absolute terms, there are 1.6 million trade union members in their main jobs or 1.7 million in total. Note that there are 11.8 million employed people in Australia.

What are the explanations for this catastrophic decline in union membership? Is there anything the trade unions can do to arrest the decline? How is it that the influence of the trade union movement has not fallen in line with its falling membership?     Read more »

A newspaper editorial ticks off the PPTA

A newspaper has an editorial this morning that gently ticks off the PPTA. It clearly wasn’t written by Kirsty Johnson.

The secondary teachers’ union has welcomed one Auckland school’s decision to abandon international examinations and offer only the NCEA. The Post Primary Teachers’ Association would like to ban schools using the International Baccalaureate and the Cambridge exams entirely, believing they undermine our homegrown educational credentials for school leavers.

It is concerned that schools offering the alternatives tend to imply the national qualification as not sufficiently challenging and lacking credibility. But it also blames the Government for using the NCEA to set national achievement targets as a measure of the return on educational investment. The union says the targets encourage “credit farming”, by which it means schools siphon students into courses that offer the most credits, though they might not be the courses the students need most. A paper circulated by the PPTA claims students “seek out courses which are perceived to deliver the most credits for the least effort”.

This is a concern if true. But it seems not to have occurred to the union that its portrayal of “credit farming” in the NCEA also reinforces the very perceptions it resents. The public should be insisting the PPTA’s members – who are professionals, as it often reminds us – do their utmost to encourage students to take courses that let them reach their educational potential.

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Union upset with Government for axing zero hour legislation. Wait… what?

Yeah I know…it beggars belief…a union complaining about the axing of zero hour contracts…who would ever have thought.

A trade union representing farm workers fears the Government’s zero hour contracts legislation could cost thousands of labourers their jobs.

While many unions have criticised the legislation for not going far enough, Amalgamated Workers’ Union’s secretary Calvin Fisher said the opposite was true.

He said the Government was bowing to union pressure, and not taking into account agriculture, where casual employment was necessary.

“It’s ironic that you’re trying to get middle ground here… it’s typical of Government legislation that tries to put a framework around employment situations and there’s not one situation that covers all,” he said.

Under the Employment Standards Legislation Bill, employers would not be able to cancel shifts without giving plenty of notice.    Read more »

Wrecking the influence of unions in politics

The poms are wrecking the influence of unions in politics, and it is new law changes that are going to bring the destruction.

The Conservatives – ever with an eye for the main chance – have borrowed the principle of Labour’s rule change and inserted it into the new Trade Union Bill. Any trade unionist who wants their money to be paid into the their union’s political levy – which is then used to finance the Labour Party – will have to proactively sign a form to that effect every five years. And it’s now possible to judge how many trade union members will bother to sign up in this way. Around 180,000. That compares with 4.5 million members who pay the levy now. Labour is about to lose 95 per cent of the income it receives from the unions. At precisely the same time it is about to elect Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. I don’t know how much Jeremy Corbyn is planning to secure for Labour in major corporate donations. But I can hazard a guess.

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Unions with Non-Subscription Income, Ctd

The union movement takes a huge amount of money from non-subscription sources.

Yesterday we looked at the unions that donate to Labour. Today is the turn of the public sector unions.

The public sector unions have over $77m of revenue each year, with $6m coming from non-subscription sources.

Public Sector Union Subscriptions  Non-Sub Income Total Income
Public Sector Association  $20,236,606  $2,243,6470  $22,480,253
New Zealand Educational Institute  $17,541,264  $1,097,965  $18,639,229
Nurses’ Organisation  $16,767,033  $2,016,233  $18,783,266
Tertiary Education Union  $4,391,974  $119,379  $4,511,353
Post Primary Teachers’ Association  $9,371,970  $261,496  $9,633,470
Medical Specialists  $3,085,174  $507,852  $3,593,026
 $71,394,025  $6,246,572  $77,640,597

Read more »

Act on the PPTA and Charter Schools and union blacklists

The ACT party ‘Free Press’ newsletter came out yesterday and provided this commentary on the PPTA and their attitude towards charter schools.

Seriously Unethical Behaviour

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association are plumbing new depths.  First they blacklisted a trainee teacher who worked at a Partnership School from doing training placements at schools where their members teach. The PPTA knows very well that training placements are essential to teacher registration, and their biggest criticism of Partnership Schools is that they can employ non-registered teachers. (As a side note, this condition only applies if the Partnership School provides suitable justification for doing so, e.g. no registered teachers have the skills they seek).

The Teacher Come Forward

The teacher was initially unwilling to speak publicly.  His story is worth reading: ‘Mr Kahukiwa started teaching te reo Maori and music at Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa in Whangarei at the start of the year. He sought out the school after meeting some of its students at the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cassino in Italy last May, where he was with the Royal New Zealand Navy. “All of us in the military, when we met those kids, we knew there was something special going on,” he said. “I just thought, oh well, whatever a charter school is it works for these kids, I want to be part of it.”  Read more »

CTU loses one of its cash cows

For a long time the CTU and also Business NZ have been tucking the taxpayer for millions via a rort with ACC.

All of that has come to an end however with the government deciding that the millions poured into their coffers isn’t worth it.

Naturally the CTU is crying a river of tears.

As the government attempts to water down core provisions in its new health and safety law, funding to support high risk industry health and safety representative is also about to end.

The CTU has today announced that its Health and Safety Representative Training programme, supported by ACC since 2003, will be ending in its current form this November.

Business New Zealand and private provider Impac Services are also affected by ACC’s decision.

ACC has supported this training since 2003, and over 33,000 Health and Safety Reps have been upskilled by the CTU in this period.   Read more »

Cameron makes unions collect their own dues

David Cameron is showing much more courage in dealing with ratbag unions than John Key does.

Up to 3.8 million public sector workers will lose the right to have their trade union subscriptions automatically deducted from their pay cheques after the government announced plans to end the “outdated practice”.

In a move that will be condemned by trade union leaders as another assault on their rights, the government confirmed that the forthcoming trade union bill will force public sector workers to make their own arrangements to pay union subscriptions.

Matt Hancock, the cabinet office minister, heralded the end to “check-off”deductions as a key step in modernising the relationship with trade unions and saving on administrative fees.

But union leaders will say that the change is another example of the government’s hostile approach to their movement after the publication of the trade union bill earlier this month, which included plans to criminalise picketing and to raise the threshold in a strike ballot by requiring that at least 40% of those asked to vote support the strike in key public services.    Read more »

Unions back bearded Socialist Voter Repellent


The pommy unions seem hell bent on ensuring Labour stays out of office in the UK for many years to come.

They are backing the bearded socialist voter repellent Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign has received a major boost after he won the backing of Britain’s second-biggest trade union, Unison.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the union, which has 1.3 million members, said Mr Corbyn’s message had “resonated with public sector workers” and that “their choice shows a clear need for change towards a fairer society”.

Read more »

David Cameron goes after the unions

David Cameron is going after the unions big time.

The biggest crackdown on trade union rights for 30 years will be unveiled on Wednesday, including new plans to criminalise picketing, permit employers to hire strike-breaking agency staff and choke off the flow of union funds to the Labour party.

The scale of the reforms goes far wider than the previously trailed plan for strikes to be made unlawful unless 50% of those being asked to strike vote in the ballot.

In a set of proposals on a par with those introduced by Norman Tebbit in 1985, Sajid Javid, the business secretary, is also to require that at least 40% of those asked to vote support the strike in most key public services. In the case of 100 teachers asked to strike, the action would only be lawful if at least 50 teachers voted and 40 of them backed the strike.

The double threshold would have to be met in any strike called in health, education, fire, transport, border security and energy sectors – including the Border Force and nuclear decommissioning.

In further changes, Javid will:

• Require all unions, not just those affiliated to Labour, to ask each existing union member whether they wish to pay the political levy and then repeat the question every five years. The £25m annual political fund income from 4.5 million political levy payers funds a wide range of political campaigning including being a chief source of funding for Labour.   Read more »