Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Here we go again...

The big news today is Hurricane Sandy hitting the US (and apparently flooding the New York Stock Exchange. Nature shows global capitalism who's boss). So naturally, the Nats have used this as cover to wheel out their latest attack on workers' rights. While the announcement focuses on the issue of part 6A of the ERA, which protects vulnerable workers from contracting out (and the race to the bottom model it implies), the really serious changes are hidden away at the end:

  • A return to the original position in the Employment Relations Act where the duty of good faith does not require the parties to conclude a collective agreement.
  • Empowering the Employment Relations Authority to declare in certain circumstances that collective bargaining has ended.
  • Allowing employers to opt out of multi-employer bargaining.

Basically, this means a return to the Employment Contracts Act regime, when employers could simply refuse to deal with unions and refuse to allow a collective agreement. its not phrased like that, but its what it means in practice. And the impact will be felt by all of us - because unions get their members pay rises, which are then passed on through the economy. It will mean a more unequal society, and further upwards redistribution from the poor to the rich. That's what the National Party stands for, of course - making the rich richer by stealing from everybody else. But I don't think its really what most New Zealanders, who are made poorer and more insecure by such policies, want.