Over at Kiwipolitico, Pablo has a very good post on the ancestry of the new law National has proposed to lock unions out of workplaces.
With the 90-day extensions taking all the headlines I’ve not got around to making much comment on this law but it needs to be made clear that the situation that Key has claimed of unions just waltzing into workplaces is a fabrication.
In fact there are many employers who are already successfully keeping unions out under the current law. Comalco, for example, legally refuses any access to anyone who has not gone through their health and safety induction – and try getting an induction there if you’re doing so to come on site as a union rep. All this law will do is make an already hard task impossible.
But that’s the point:
the attempt to curtail union access to workplaces is an overt assault on working class collective rights. This proposed clause is not about getting unions to ring employers up in order to make an appointment to see employees. This is about shutting them out.
This isn’t a new tactic. It was used successfully against organised workers during the 1990’s under the Employment Contracts Act. For those of you who might not remember the politics of the time, Pablo offers a quick refresher:
The ECA explicitly borrowed many of its provisions directly from the 1979 Chilean Plan Laboral. The Plan Laboral was the Pinochet dictatorship’s labour code, and was championed by its then Labour Minister Jose ‘Pepe’ Pineda, the father of the current Chilean president. Under the pretence of promoting ‘labour market flexibilisation,’ the Plan Laboral was an outright assault on the Chilean union movement, using both structural as well as politically-focused clauses to atomise the Chilean working class and forever break union influence on economic decision-making. To a large extent, and even with subsequent reforms by successive post-Pinochet democratic governments, it largely succeeded in doing so.
Pepe Pineda, somewhat unsurprisingly, was a friend of Roger Douglas and made regular Business Round Table visits to NZ in the 1980s and 1990s before his death. Ruth Richardson, the main instigator behind the ECA, was also an admirer of Pineda. These two individuals, with their direct and immediate past dictatorial connections and coalition relationship with National, are believed to be the prime movers behind this attempt to return to the ECA as the framework in which the social relations of production are determined. In other words, National is proposing changes to the labour relations system that have their origins in the Pinochet dictatorship, and which were suggested by people with direct links to that dictatorship. Beyond the violations of ILO convention 87, that alone should give reason for concern.
From Pinochet to Douglas to Key. As Pablo points out, National is indeed showing it’s dark side and it’s not surprising the petty fascists of the interwebs are popping up out of the woodwork to support them.