Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Member's Day

Today is a Member's Day, the first one of the year - and it may promise some fireworks. After an obligitory non-controversial local bill, we'll be seeing the committee stage of Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill, and maybe of Tau Henare's Employment Relations (Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill. Both are bills driven by spite - spite towards students,and spite towards unions. The first will permanently gut student government in New Zealand, leading to a withdrawl of vital services from university campuses (and all because ACT doesn't like the fact that most students don't vote for them). The second sounds like a good idea, until you realise it means employers will be able to challenge strike ballots in the courts; in the UK such challenges have made it virtually impossible for unions to strike, leading to industrial disputes rolling on for years without resolution (see for example British Airways). The bill needs major amendment if this is to be avoided.

These committee stages will eat the day, and there's a second reading for a non-controversial bill lined up after them, which means we are unlikely to see a ballot for some time.