Hide on Unions

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.


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  • Mr_Blobby

    Well written as usual Rodney.
    How about Hide on the Supercity.
    Where are the savings amalgamation was supposed to bring.
    How did we end up with a race based unelected (Councilors) committee with voting rights.

    • viking

      Well you need to ask the Nats and John hone key those questions. Wasn’t ACT policy.

    • Tristanb

      It’s sad that Rodney’s only achievement as an MP was turning the Auckland into a massively over-governed leftie Maori-elited over-taxing supercity.

  • jabba

    unions have a role in the workplace as there are employers (small and big) who are arseholes. The problem for unions is that they tend to be run by screaming nutjob pinkos (think Kelly/McCarten now, Little recently and the likes of Knox and the Commie guy .. forgotten in his name, in the past) who want to be noters instead of working with the employers to get resolutions to issues and do so under the radar.

    • viking

      Nope. Unions are like horse carts. Obsolete.

      • 2ndAmendment

        Nope – like the Mafia – criminal conspiracies.

    • Dave

      Jabba. You poor fool, I have been iemployed as a senior manager, or as an owner of businesses for many years, and have NEVER came across a union that wanted to work with the employer. Many years ago, when i was nearing the completion of my apprenticeship, the union rep turned up and DEMANDED i join, i recall asking about the benefits, and he sniggered and sai : just sign and pay up boy. I have never found a union that will work with employers, they only act for themselves.

      But humour me. Tell me.

      1) When has ANY union official refused their own salary / pay when their members are on a strike.

      2) What have the absolute net benefits been after demanding a strike, thats net increase over the offer prior to striking, less any pay lost. (remember, 1.92% of annual remuneration is lost for every week an employee strikes, so if they are off for 2 weeks, and they only gain 3 % above the original offer, they have LOST 0.84% in that employment year. A few years back, after a strike when our workers managed just shy of 3% after almost 3 weeks on strike, i informed them how much they had actually lost. Lets call it 2.5 weeks, thats the equivalent of 4.8% of an annual salary, yet they received an increase of just over HALF of what they bloody lost through striking – it was REAL DUMB, but the union organizers crowed to their members of the victory against the stinking rich employers.

      3) When has ANY union, held a proper ballot, one where an independent body counted the votes, and it was open to scrutiny.

      4) How many officials in any union, earn LESS than the median wage of the members they represent.

      Somehow, i doubt you will bother, or be able to answer these, the truth would get in the way of your blind faith.

      • jabba

        1/ never and never will 2/ strikes should always be a last resort and seldom used .. not sure how you think I am a union supporter .. just saying that in the past, unions had done well for workers, amazed you don’t think so 3/ I’m sure there have been good unions, many present ones are a disgrace 4/ none .. what blind faith are you talking about

  • kowtow

    Not just unions. The whole human rights industry has been created by parliament and empowered all sorts of bollocks that the majority don’t and will never like.

  • The Peanut Monster

    Is this surprising coming from Rodney? Methinks not. There is a limit to union power I think (we don’t want to end up like France), but we don’t want to end up like the US either, where they have only two weeks holiday a year.

    I’d be interested: there must be some empirical data out there on strength of unions ina country vs. pay / leave / benefits, even with New Zealand.

    I’m all for a balance, but one extreme or another just doesn’t work. Thank God he’s not in Parliament anymore is all I can say. Good to see the NBR still clutching tight onto him though, ha.

  • 2ndAmendment

    The National-led government should just get rid of it.

    Only half right: The National-led government should just get rid of them

    Get rid of the unions. All of them. Political, apolitical, from the salaried medical specialist to the bus-drivers, from the PSA to the EMPU to the MUNZ to the IRA Get rid of the lot

    The fundamental truth underlying all industrial legislation should be that it’s the employers money. Individuals and groups work who work or conspire to increase costs to businesses should be liable for criminal and civil penalties, including triple damages

    Organize a strike for an extra $1 an hour? Fine! Or precisely, the fine will be $3 an hour until the employers costs are recouped. If the employers are forced to raise wages but $100 a week, the “workers” can pay $300 a week in perpetuity.

    That’s how to deal with unions.

  • Dave

    NZ would be a far better place for everyone, if unions were all de-registered, follow hte good work “The Owl” had done, simply de-register them, then open the market to employee advocates, bargaining agents etc, but a big NO to unions, A side note, all bargaining agents to have NO POLITICAL affiliations whatsoever, not donate to of follow any side of politics.

    Workers would gain, and possible receive better benefits, as the agents could be remunerated on the benefits the workers receive, not just a continual drip feed for nothing!!

    • 2ndAmendment

      De-registering unions is simply commonsense. But the market is already “open” to other bargaining agents. One key problem with NZ is ridiculously low produtivity – 1/3rd at least less than Australia. That says that wages need to drop and continue to drop – not rise. NZ “workers” certainly do not deserve “better benefits”: any solution that raises wages isn’t a solution – it’s just yet more of the problem!

      As Wikipedia quotes Ken Douglas on Ruth Richardson (clearly the most important and successful finance minister NZ has ever had):

      Ruth Richardson was very clear, very blunt, very honest about (the ECA’s) purpose. It was to achieve the dramatic lowering of wages, very quickly

      NZ was comparatively much more productive, and in much better shape in 1990 that it is in 2012. Every single reform enacted by Richardson and Douglas was undone by Bolger, Shipley, and Hellen. NZ needs the combination of a 1991 and a 1985 budget immediately, then not stopping in 1991 but “finishing the job” once and for all

  • Rodney_Hide

    The purpose of the reform was to match the jurisdiction to the problems being addressed. Not savings.

    Nonetheless, there used to be10,000 staff running Auckland, there are now 8,000. That’s $94 million a year in savings in wages alone. The new council found in its first year an additional $81 million in savings and an additional $40 million in its second year.
    Not bad.
    I could have done better but Cabinet required that I keep all existing projects of the previous councils intact.
    The Maori Statutory Board was the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s idea. Not mine.
    I thought of resigning but then the Auckland reforms would go tits.
    Politics works like that. You don’t always get your own way!

    • 2ndAmendment

      Could you please answer the most crucial question: why a universal franchise

      With a ratepayer franchise (or ideally even a nett ratepayer franchise) the composition of the council would be very different: Banks would still be mayor (unless, I guess, you wanted the job) and Brown, Labour & Greens would simply have no prospect ever of governing Auckland.

      NZ had a 100+ year history of successful city corporations governed by ratepayer franchise: why did you stick with Helen’s Labour plan for a universal franchise?

    • jokeintakapuna

      rodney you are a maggot on the back of the blowfly named key….and have done nothing for the average working auckland rate payer,you have lived off the working class all your life and even after been assholed by act you still want to stick your nose in others buisness.i would love to get into a boxing ring with you if your up to it charity event..no head gear though would want to make sure a doctor was handy also.

      • fozzie

        To be fair joke he lived for a long time as a ‘tax write off’ for Alan Gibb – so does that make him a bludger … no an ‘investment’ in a failed ACT ..

      • Travis Poulson

        Way to go, Loser. No brains to offer debate, just violence. Fuckin’ idiot.

        • Dave

          Right with you Travis, the start of his name says it all “Joke” and no one takes a joke seriously, especially one that can’t even think of an original name !

        • jokeintakapuna

          i did say charity event travis……dont rip your nightie

  • Anonymouse Coward

    My observation; Employers get the unions they deserve.

  • Anonymouse Coward

    So Rodney, Andrew Talley from Open Country Cheese was a poor defenceless lamb savaged by brutal union wolves?

    Yea right!