Friday, February 26, 2010

Unions support secret ballots

The Council of Trade Unions has discussed Tau Henare's Employment Relations (Workers' Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill, and come out in support of it. That's a bit of a no-brainer really. Unions are democratic institutions, and the secret ballot is a basic democratic right. Requiring unions to hold them simply reinforces existing practices and removes the right's propaganda about workers being bullied into strikes. What's not to like?

They also point out that what's good for the goose is good for the gander:

“unions are critical of the lack of balance in the bill and believe it must be changed to also require employers to follow democratic procedures including a secret ballot of shareholders prior to a lockout”.
They have a point. Henare's justification for his bill is that strikes impose significant costs on workers and that they should therefore have a democratic mandate. But the same applies to lockouts, which result in reduced income and significant reputational risks to businesses. A decision to lock out workers directly affects the interests of shareholders, and so should be put straight to them (by secret ballot, of course), rather than left to management. Anything less would simply be undemocratic...