News today that NZAS appeal against the EPMU’s claim for contract shift payments at Tiwai Point has failed is another well-deserved win for workers. True to form, the company is bleating that it might cost it $20million. That would be a drop in the bucket compared to what workers have lost there since Rio Tinto moved aggressively to de-unionise the site in 1990 after the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act. They then used the same union-busting approach with individual contracts to attack mine workers in Australia.
The DomPost reports that the EPMU now has 64 members at the smelter. This will be a tribute to the hard work of organiser Trevor Hobbs who has battled away as the union’s Southland organiser for many years.
I recall as a green negotiator being very happy to have the benefit of fitter’s delegate Trevor’s encyclopedic knowledge when we were negotiating the Freezing Industry Tradesmen’s Award in the days of the Labour Relations Act in the late 1980’s, bringing seven different awards into one industry agreement – not an easy task. The other thing I remember from that experience was that the companies hated each other even more than they hated the unions – a problem that bedevils the meat industry to this day.
Thoughtful as usual, Trevor’s comment was that he was pleased for the workers, and that more should join the union as there were many other issues to sort out.