Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > John Key’s track record on raising wages – 8. An End to Collective Agreements

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 8. An End to Collective Agreements

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Continued from: John Key’s track record on raising wages – 7. Part 6A – stripped away

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8. An End to Collective Agreements

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National’s covert agenda to resurrect the Employment Contract’s Act involves the following,

  1. The Employment Relations Authority can declare in certain circumstances that collective bargaining has ended.
  2. A duty of good faith does not require the parties to conclude a collective agreement.
  3. Employers can opt out of multi-employer bargaining.
  4. Partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action.
  5. Removing the 30-day rule that forces non-union members to take union terms and conditions.

Items 1, 2, and 3 have only one purpose; to ensure that an employer can walk away from the negotiating table; scrap any collective agreement; and re-hire workers on individual contracts.

It is solely designed to destroy unions once and for all.

Had Items 1, 2, and 3 been in force this year, POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) would have been able to abandon the bargaining table after a mock “negotiation”; locked out any worker on strike; and issued take-it-or-leave-it individual contracts.

The worker’s negotiating agent,  the Maritime Union, would have been dis-empowered and destroyed.

Only the current provisions of good-faith bargaining in the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Employment Relations Authority were able to stop POAL from unilaterally walking away from the negotiating table. (On 27 March this year, the Employment Court issued a judgement severely admonishing POAL for their actions, and ordering them to return to negotiations.)

The same happened when Talleys locked out workers. Talleys was demanding that workers quit their Union and sign individual contracts.

See previous blogpost: If anyone wants to see the Working Class

See previous blogpost: Help Talley’s Affco Workers!

See previous blogpost: Immovable and Irresistable forces – combined!!

See previous blogpost: The Talleys Strikes Back

All this will change – and not fot the better –  if National proceeds with implementation of their draconian law-changes.

They will serve the purposes of business – whilst leaving employees totally vulnerable and at the mercy of their employers.

This is Third World banana republic stuff.

This will drive wages down, and will send more New Zealanders packing for Australia.

Item 4 is self-evident, and is designed to dissuade employees from strike action. Using financial pressure to control workers would be the inevitable outcome of this law-change.

Again, it would leave workers totally vulnerable to employer demands.

Item 5 – What better way to prevent workers from learning about the benefits of union-membership – than by denying workers the benefits of Union-won  conditions? It means that an employer can hire staff at lower pay, or sub-standard conditions.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson’s own cabinet paper confirmed that the 30 Day Rule  would permit  employers to offer lower wages to new workers than those on the collective agreement. What other reasonwould there be for such a radical  change in our labour laws?

With unemployment now at 7.3%, more than 175,000 people are now competing for fewer and fewer jobs. If National proceeds with it’s miserable labour “reforms” it will simply result in unemployed job-seekers willing to accept lower and lower pay, and reduced conditions. It will become a dog-eat-dog labour market.

This may satisfy free market fanatics, but it does nothing to fulfill Dear Leader’s pledges to raise wages, or create new jobs.

As usual, Key promises one thing whilst his Minister work quietly in the background to achieve the polar-opposite.

In polite society, this is called duplicity.

How does this raise wages, one may rightly ask?

Next chapter: 9. Conclusion

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= fs =

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  1. Recluse
    11 November 2012 at 7:02 pm

    “With unemployment now at 7.3%, more than 175,000 people are now competing for fewer and fewer jobs. If National proceeds with it’s miserable labour “reforms” it will simply result in unemployed job-seekers willing to accept lower and lower pay, and reduced conditions. It will become a dog-eat-dog labour market.”

    Factor in the impact of those employers already paying well below minimum wage.

    http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/turning-blind-eye-to-exploitation.html#links

    Or those employers using migrant labour paid less than their NZ counterparts. Close Up did a story on the trades sector a little while back, impacts on NZ builders going out of business or emigrating because they simply can’t compete. How about pay parity? Is this part of National’s plan to help wages rise?

    • 11 November 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks for that link and heads-up, Recluse. Yes, I’ve seen that piece on TV and I should’ve referred to it…

      That “Close Up” story is a scary view of where our society might end up and shows the fallacy of those nutty Libertarians who insist that doing away with the minimum wage would eventually push wages up. Bollocks to that!

      This blogpost took several days to put together (with advice from CTU, who were very helpful!) . There’s probably a lot that i’ve omitted to include (pay parity being one issue; cheap labour from overseas being another. Such as SEAFICS demand for more cheap labour to be allowed into out 200km territorial zone; http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/5799232/We-need-more-cheap-foreign-fishermen

  1. 11 November 2012 at 3:31 pm
  2. 11 November 2012 at 3:33 pm
  3. 9 January 2013 at 5:37 pm
  4. 23 May 2013 at 8:14 pm

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