Monday, April 24, 2006

Learning from the French

The EPMU seem to have learned from the French, and have put Wayne Mapp "on notice" that they will begin a public campaign of protests in 90 days unless he withdraws his Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill. Needless to say, I think this is a great idea. Mapp is of course outraged, and refuses to be "held to ransom by threats" - but its not really him that the protest is aimed at. The bill's support is tenuous - it only passed its first reading because of the support of the Maori Party - and a strong show of public support is exactly what is needed to persuade them to change their vote.

It is also interesting that it is the EPMU which is leading on this. Traditionally, they've favoured cooperation (some would say "collaboration") over confrontation. But it seems the recent French victory over the CPE has reminded them of the potential power of protest, and the tight political environment of its necessity. The government's lack of a legislative majority means that current employment law (which recognises the inherant imbalance of power between employer and employee) is under threat; if we want it to stay, then we have to speak up to defend it.


I don't know. I think public protests should be used with caution. Constantly staging demonstrations results in fatigue both for the demonstrators (apart from the small group of people who constantly demonstrate) and the media and general public.

It doesn't look good if you stage a protest and the turn out isn't too big- which for a private members bill that is unlikely to succeed I suspect would probably be the case.

In fact I'm not convinced demonstrations have anything like the same power as political tool here as they do in France. We've never had anything like the French Revolution or the 1968 protests... Though I guess the 1981 protests might have come close.

Posted by Amanda : 4/24/2006 04:06:00 PM