Tuesday, May 15, 2012

So much for "closing the gap"

Currently, there's a marked differential in wage rises between unionised and non-unionised workers. Unionised workers get decent wage increases, non-unionised workers don't (on average). Now, National wants to change that, with a series of employment law "reforms" designed to cripple unions and give employers the whip-hand:

Employers will no longer have to reach a collective agreement during collective bargaining, under changes made to industrial relations laws, approved by Cabinet today.

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson said the changes include removing the requirement to conclude collective bargaining, allowing employers to opt out of multi-employer bargaining, allowing partial pay reductions in the case of partial strikes and removing the 30-day rule, under which new workers automatically come under a collective agreement for the first 30 days.

Removing the duty to conclude effectively means that employers won't have to negotiate with unions. Pay reductions for partial industrial action (defined as "work to rule") is designed to intimidate workers from engaging in such action by threatening to cut their pay for doing their job. Removing the 30-day rule will remove basic union protections, and enable employers to actively discriminate against union members. Collectively, these changes will reduce the power of unions to bargain effectively on behalf of their members, thereby reducing wages (and living standards) for ordinary kiwis.

...which is the complete opposite of National's stated goal of "closing the wage gap" with Australia. But then, when it comes to representing the interests of ordinary kiwis versus representing the interests of greedy bosses, National will pick the latter every time.