Key, Unions and Pinochet

Written By: - Date published: 10:13 pm, July 19th, 2010 - 103 comments
Categories: class war, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

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.

103 comments on “Key, Unions and Pinochet”

  1. Ed 1

    Could you comment further on the violations of ILO convention 87?

    • IrishBill 1.1

      It’s freedom of association. Essentially it lays down the right for workers to organise without the interference of their employers.

    • 1995 HUGHES, S., HAWORTH, N., ‘Under scrutiny, the ECA, the ILO and the NZCTU complaint. 1993-1995‘, New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, 20 (2), August, 143-161.

    • Margaret 1.3

      History tells us what a Pinochot style regeime has done to the souls of the people of Chile.

      Perhaps you feel “legal” paper proof is more important than the soul of our country

      I am sure the ILO has a website where you can find this information.

  2. hmmmm 2

    This is nonsense.

    Key has proposed to give back the right bar access to private property – this is fundamental stuff. What was radical was taking away that right in the first place.

    But what nonsense to take a proposal to give back a property right only taken away 10 years ago and then draw some fatuous link to a murderer. You missed the bit where the ECA has anything to do with Key’s proposal.

    • Juan Manuel Santos 2.1

      I think it all started going wrong around the time they repealed the anti-combination laws.

      Seriously though, if you don’t understand that the New Right revolution (or, more accurately, coup) in Chile had the same social and economic goals as the one in New Zealand, not to mention important personal links with the leading actors in the New Zealand Right then I don’t think you can really comment intelligently on the subject.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        For Gawd’s sake keep a bit of perspective here.

        Just because one dictatorship at one time follows economic policies that you can make a tenuous link to the current government in this country does not mean that the government shares the same anti-democratic ideals.

        That be like claiming that because the Soviet Union was anti-capitalist that must mean any left leaning party in the West shares the totalitarian tendancies of the Communist party in power at that time.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1

          It’s not a tenuous link. It’s a very hard and broad link. The Chicago School which birthed modern neo-liberalism was glowing in it’s praise of Pinochet and his economic reforms. those are the same reforms that the 4th Labour and the 4th National governments made and what the 5th National government want to bring back.

          • Rosy 2.1.1.1.1

            Yes, I was horrified in an economics lecture during the neo-liberal reforms when Chile was used as an example of ‘successful’ reforms. A debate started about the social conditions, suppression, murders etc. The response from the lecturer was that it was not the place of an economist to consider political, social and moral ethics in economic reforms. That put me off neo-liberal economics for life (along with the assumption of the ‘rational man’).

            • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1.1.1

              The response from the lecturer was that it was not the place of an economist to consider political, social and moral ethics in economic reforms.

              http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/25/112.html

              Heh. At the time they considered them all right. They just figured it was worth it.

              Critics of both Pinochet and Friedman took Chile as proof positive that the kind of free-market absolutism advocated by the Chicago School was only possible through repression. So Friedman countered by redefining the meaning of freedom. Contrary to the prevailing post-WWII belief that political liberty was dependent on some form of mild social leveling, he insisted that “economic freedom is an essential requisite for political freedom.’ More than his monetarist theorems, this equation of “capitalism and freedom’ was his greatest contribution to the rehabilitation of conservatism in the 1970s. Where pre-New Deal conservatives positioned themselves in defense of social hierarchy, privilege, and order, post-WWII conservatives instead celebrated the free market as a venue of creativity and liberty. Such a formulation today stands at the heart of the conservative movement, having been accepted as commonsense by mainline politicians and opinion makers. It is likewise enshrined in Bush’s National Security Strategy, which mentions “economic freedom’ more than twice as many times as it does “political freedom.’ …

              … Like Friedman, Hayek glimpsed in Pinochet the avatar of true freedom, who would rule as a dictator only for a “transitional period,’ only as long as needed to reverse decades of state regulation. “My personal preference,’ he told a Chilean interviewer, “leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.’ In a letter to the London Times he defended the junta, reporting that he had “not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende.’ Of course, the thousands executed and tens of thousands tortured by Pinochet’s regime weren’t talking.

              Hayek’s University of Chicago colleague Milton Friedman got the grief, but it was Hayek who served as the true inspiration for Chile’s capitalist crusaders. It was Hayek who depicted Allende’s regime as a way station between Chile’s postwar welfare state and a hypothetical totalitarian future. Accordingly, the Junta justified its terror as needed not only to prevent Chile from turning into a Stalinist gulag but to sweep away fifty years of tariffs, subsidies, capital controls, labor legislation, and social welfare provisions—a “half century of errors,’ according to finance minister Sergio De Castro, that was leading Chile down its own road to serfdom.

              “To us, it was a revolution,’ said government economist Miguel Kast, an Opus Dei member and follower of both Hayek and American Enterprise Institute theologian Michael Novak. The Chicago economists had set out to affect, radically and immediately, a “foundational’ conversion of Chilean society, to obliterate its “pseudo-democracy’ (prior to 1973, Chile enjoyed one of the most durable constitutional democracies in the Americas).

              Where Friedman made allusions to the superiority of economic freedom over political freedom in his defense of Pinochet, the Chicago group institutionalized such a hierarchy in a 1980 constitution named after Hayek’s 1960 treatise The Constitution of Liberty. The new charter enshrined economic liberty and political authoritarianism as complementary qualities. They justified the need of a strong executive such as Pinochet not only to bring about a profound transformation of society but to maintain it until there was a “change in Chilean mentality.’ Chileans had long been “educated in weakness,’ said the president of the Central Bank, and a strong hand was needed in order to “educate them in strength.’ The market itself would provide tutoring: When asked about the social consequences of the high bankruptcy rate that resulted from the shock therapy, Admiral Josi Toribio Merino replied that “such is the jungle of economic life. A jungle of savage beasts, where he who can kill the one next to him, kills him. That is reality.’

              • Rosy

                Brilliant. Thanks PB, I feel vindicated in hating a discipline that could care less about the brutality required to impose a purist agenda. That is a world I want no part of. Interesting how both neo-liberal and stalinist regimes have the same repressive endpoints.

              • RobertM

                Actually I think Hayek was the voice of truth. He recognised that the British left and Atlee were really pointing in the direction of communism, eastern europe and social worker control. As Hayek said in Sydney, egalitarianism is not compatible with freedom and individuals or groups of humans do not have the knowledge to justify the doctrianare utopianism proposed by the let. Friedman I find a bit too Chicago and rigid, for one thing I like public transport and light rail as long as it goes to middle class and bohemain areas not
                Henderson or Manuewera.
                I like Reagan not Thatcher. Chile was a poor backward nation despite all the talk that it had a sustantial middle class. The more valid comparison is that the current weak kneed National government is as far left, and as sold out to the left, PC as the Edward Frei l964-1970 Chilean Government which had been backed into office by CIA but was actually so gutless that it allowed a degree of Mugabe style land appropriation, benefit expansion, nationalisation etc.
                On any valid scale the Clark,Maharey govt was a hard right tory regime far to the right of Lockwood, Key and English. I mean no family support for beneficiaries, maintenance=of the benefit cuts, everything for the police and army. Support for the US military in Afghansitan and even Iraq covetly. The essential shut out of any genunine peace activist or leftie. No wonder W43 loved Helen.More than likely the Americans leaked the Hager emails after all even they would have understood that Brash, Keenan, Long et all consituted an extreme rapid right far more unstable than Pinochet and the Chicago boys.
                If the right wing nightmares like those expressed by the correspondents and writers of this column come to being ever come to pass it will be very much because Clark and the left fed the Army and police and allowed them to develop out of control imagining they were socialist friends of the proletariat.
                Personally I have more respect for the Argentine junta and Milosovich and karavadich that I do for Pinocet. The Junta were well intention and the most ideologically pure rightwing regime of all. Ultiamtely failed becase the generals had too much humanity to pauparize the poor and because of the stupidiy of Thatcher,Powell and Foote in backing the Falklands war which real achievement was that Argentian a potentially great nation would never learn the necessity of economic change.
                Milosvich was in many ways developing an extremely advanced modern society in Serbia and Belgrade. The whole nation was opened up in the only case of enlightenened psychiaitry ever practiced. In Belgrade every bar had beautiful women free to have naked public sex origies, dressed in stylish fascist uniforms. Had night every Tv station showed wall to wall hard core pornography. Smashing and eliminating the criminal inbred Kosovo people was just the process of evolution.For once I agree with the policy of Blair and Clinton in sending the B-52s to bomb Belgrade for a month was outrageous.
                Sorry to get excited, but then I thought somebodies else country was a documentary of praise for the magnificent new right. They looked handsome ,in that film the left look awful. Loved the film of the Hawker Hunters bombing Allendes palace. They were cheering in the British embassy.They didn’t want to do Milsovich either.

            • Margaret 2.1.1.1.1.2

              That sends shivers down your backbone.

              The Government of the day decides what economic vision will be taught in our learning instiutions and then limit entry to the children of his favoured few.

              The excluded well, NACT is well on the way to arming the police to go up against protesters.

          • the pinkpostman 2.1.1.1.2

            And don’t forget that Muldoon’s favorite politician Thacher counted Pinochet as her personal friend. Remember that the whole of National’s anti-worker policies were reflection of Thatcher’s plan to destroy the union movement . Which in turn were based on the ideals of Pinochet.At last Key is showing his true colours regarding Unions. Workers beware .

    • deemac 2.2

      Stating something is nonsense don’t make it so.
      You have to assemble some sort of argument.
      “Private property” my arse – if you employ people on a site it ain’t your castle. Numerous agencies are entitled to access. Why exclude unions? Unless they might inform your staff of their rights.
      Oh, and the link to a murderer is only “fatuous” if you are denying Roger was a pal of Pineda; are you?

      • Gosman 2.2.1

        @ the pinkpostman

        Your paranoid delusions are a joy to behold.

        Personally I blame the Freemasons under the guidance of the Reptilian overlords.

    • IrishBill 2.3

      Workers had the ability to organise on site for decades before the ECA (which was modelled Pinochet’s labour laws). The ERA gave it back . Now Key backed by Act (who have had social and political links with Pinochet’s regime) is taking it away again.

      Claiming a property right excludes the human right to organise, as defined under a long-standing ILO convention, is absurd.

    • Bill 2.4

      Barring access to private property is trespass law. Which was neither taken away nor restored.

      Oh, hang on. Your opening line ‘This is nonsense’ was meant as a header for your own comment rather than as an opinion on the post. I get it now.

      Next you’ll be advocating that employers should be able to issue trespass notices thereby bringing the number of fired workers down to zero.

    • BLiP 2.5

      So – taking your logic, the humans in the work place are the private property of the employer?

      • Gosman 2.5.1

        Not that I specifically agree with the proposed change to the law on access rights but Union organisers are not usually the direct employee of the owner. The owner does, and should, have certain rights in determining who and when someone outside his business comes on to his private property.

        If someone from outside, e.g. a preacher for some religious denomination, wanted access to the site do you think they should have an automatic right to turn up anytime they like? If you don’t then why are Union representatives any different? Remember the proposed law change is not barring access totally, just restricting when.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.5.1.1

          Go read Pablo’s post gos. He explains why:

          Due to the asymmetric power relationship between employers and workers, collective action is the best way for the latter to secure rights and protections within the productive process. Collective action requires organisation, and the ability to organise is contingent on the ability of prospective agents to access workers in an effort to persuade them to act collectively in defense of their common interests. Access does not mean compulsory membership or even recruitment success. It just means that prospective collective agents have the ability to approach workers at their work places in an effort to organise them collectively.

          Under International Labour Organisation Convention 87 on freedoms of association, such access is defined as an absolute democratic right for both workers and agents. In fact, it is a cornerstone of most democratic labour legislation that employers not have the right to interfere with the right of workers to organise, including organisation efforts by collective agents such as unions. Thus National’s proposal that unions must secure employer consent before approaching employees on a work site, and that such consent must not be withheld “unreasonably’ (with the definition of reasonable left purposefully vague), is a direct violation of one of the most cherished international labour standards.

          How is that like a preacher?

          He goes into more detail in the comments about this “The owner does have certain rights in determining who and when someone outside his business comes on to his private property”, pointing out that as an employment realationship is contractual, both parties have rights. If workers want to negotiate collectively, then access to the mechanisms for that should be unfettered. The employment contract gives employees rights in the workplace, so the employer doesn’t own it the way s/he might own their house. Employees are not on the work site as guests.

  3. Pablo 3

    Thanks Bill, for linking to the post. Readers are welcome to follow the discussion in the comments thread over at KP. In it I elaborate on why employers do not “own” a workplace as they would a car or house, and make the point on why freedom of association includes freedom of access by collective agents, as well as why such access is a right under international labour standards..

  4. John 4

    Mussolini’s definition of fascism which no doubt you’ve seen many times but bears repeating is : “The marriage of Corporate and Government powers”. It’s obvious this Nact outfit do not care for the ordinary Kiwi. Also, as in the US, vote for the image not the issues is fascistic as you turn off the rational critical mind and vote for someone ’cause they say nice things, dress smartly, behave hypnotically and overall make you feel good! Real politics is painful and difficult and issues have to be fought over and freedoms protected. Our media also is more image than substance. Of course the ignorance and complacency of the people allows all this to happen. Another fascist technique is the two party system as in the US where in fact there is very little difference between both. The coup ousting Rudd is fascistic as members supporting the mining corps ganged up on Rudd and through him out even though the people voted him in! The new labour party will not have a 40% tax on the agenda despite a new election called.

    • John 4.1

      Jk I believe is just a front man for the business,corporate interests behind him. If he muffs his lines,loses his nerve, or doesn’t perform during his trial period( a bit longer than 90 days) he’ll go the same way as Rudd!

    • Gosman 4.2

      Yeah and multiple brutal nasty thugs have also championed workers rights against the ‘evil capitalists’. Does that mean it is rational and logical to make the link from left leaning parties in New Zealand to them?

      • IrishBill 4.2.1

        If senior members of left leaning parties were inviting Stalin to come and talk to New Zealand on a regular basis then you might have a point.

        There is a clear personal link between Pinochet’s labour minister and Act and a clear ideological link between that regime and the labour laws announced by National this past weekend.

        • Gosman 4.2.1.1

          Senior members of the Trade Union movement used to have strong links with the international communist movement. Does that mean the Union movement is inherently totalitarian in nature and wishes to impose a brutal ‘workers’ dictatorial state upon us? – Of course it doesn’t. and neither does this suggest that right leaning parties are inherently fascist and wish to establish a brutal oligarcial dictatorship.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.1.1

            No it doesn’t because communism isn’t totalitarian. Capitalism is though as the actions of this NACT+MP government show.

      • Lew 4.2.2

        Because the absence of any such links to NZ’s left movement prevented the National and Act party and its nuttier fellow-travellers from daily comparing Helen Clark to every authoritarian dictator under the sun, including some made-up ones?

        Leave it out, Gossy.

        L

        • Gosman 4.2.2.1

          So do you think it was appropriate that some member of the National party were comparing Helen Clark to various dictators do you?

          I personally thought it was quite infantile but if you are willing to engage in that sort of level of debate then I’m sure there is a large number of people on the right who will respond tit-for-tat on allegations of which side is more like a totalitarian regime.

          • Lew 4.2.2.1.1

            As it happens, I’ve most strongly condemned the practice and have routinely criticised those on the left who’ve made blanket comparisons. But the linked argument is not such a propaganda stunt: it’s a factual assessment of the political logic employed by both Labour AND National in laying the groundwork for this policy.

            L

            • Gosman 4.2.2.1.1.1

              Bollocks. Making a link between the brutal Pinochet regime and any change to employment laws in favour of businesses is a very long bow to draw.

              • Bill

                Chicago School – overthrow of Allende by US and installation of Pinochet – Chicago School supply side economics get free reign to impose brutal economic model in Chile – NZ, UK and US elites adopt and force through same model at first opportunity.

                2010 and the NZ government seeks to resurrect ‘same old, same old’.

                As for mates and mates and all that. Wasn’t it Thatcher who fought any extradition of Pinochet? Wonder why that might have been.

                Jose “Pepe’ Pineda being mates with various foreign advocates for the economics he was imposing in Chile? Makes sense.

                And the fact that the model could only be applied in Chile on the back of massive and relentless state violence and oppression…

                Didn’t exactly sail into existence unopposed in the UK, US or NZ did it Gosman? True, these countries’ elites didn’t resort to disappearances and death squads to create chaos and a sense of insecurity in order to smooth the imposition of the neo- liberal economic agenda.

                They just waited for the insecurity to arise and then capitalised on it by generating chaos through the fast and furious dismantling of anything that could stand in the way of their ‘grand design’…TINA reforms.

                • Gosman

                  Really???

                  You think the Chicago school of Economics was behind the overthrow of Allende by US and installation of Pinochet?

                  Wow! I didn’t realise that a faculty of higher education had such power and reach in global politics.

                  Let’s just hope noone pi@ses of a performing arts school eh. 😉
                  LOL!!!

                  • felix

                    Your knowledge of history is clearly a little slim there Gos. You do this all the time, laughing incredulously at people who make completely uncontroversial statements because you have no context in which to understand them.

                    It’s actually a little embarrassing to read.

                    • Gosman

                      No, trying to claim that a theory of economics developed from a particular US college of higher education somehow has the ability to dictate major political decisions by various people is what is embarrassing to read.

                      Nobody that I am aware of blames the LSE for all the wrongheaded left wing policies that have come out from people who went to that institution. Just as you can’t blame Marx for all the stupid things people have done in his name even if his ideals were pretty stupid as well.

                    • Gosman

                      Ever studied Chilean history?

                      Thought not.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      fairly short history here gos:

                      http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/25/112.html

                    • Gosman

                      Actually mickysavage Chilian History is something I have looked into quite a bit however I must have missed the bit that the Chicago School of Economics was the CAUSE of the coup. I always thought that the coup was more anti-communist in nature hence why the CIA was involved. The Chicago boys only got involved in the country a few years after the coup in 1973 but perhaps you would direct me to the evidence which suggests they were involved in the planning stage.

                    • Gosman

                      And looking into Pascal’s bookie’s article he linked to it seems I was right. Milton Friedman and the Chicago boy’s didn’t get involved in Chile until two years after the Coup.

                      Do you have evidence that they were involved prior to this moment mickysavage ?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Did you read this bit:

                      It was the Chicago School’s vision of hell, the New Deal writ large across the world stage. These ideas “fell like a bomb’ on those who had long stood against Keynesianism at home only now to see its authority spread globally. The Chilean scholarship program was intended to counter such a vision. “University of Chile economists have been followers of Keynes and Prebisch more than of Marx,’ wrote former University of Chicago president and State Department director of overseas education programs William Benton, and “the Chicago influence’ will “introduce a third basic viewpoint, that of contemporary ‘market economics.”

                      Students returned to Chile not just with a well-rounded education in classical economics but with a burning dedication to carry the faith to benighted lands. They purged the economics departments of their universities of developmentalists and began to set up free-market institutes and think tanks the Center for Social and Economic Studies, for example, and the Foundation for Liberty and Development funded, as their counterparts in the US were, by corporate money. They understood their mission in continental terms, committed, as Chicago alum Ernesto Fontaine put it, “to expand throughout Latin America, confronting the ideological positions which prevented freedom and perpetuated poverty and backwardness.’

                      The program, which brought up students from universities in Argentina as well, is an example of the erratic nature of both public and private US diplomacy, conforming as it does to competing power interests within American society. At the same time that Kennedy was promoting Alliance for Progress reform capitalism, he was training and funding the men and institutions that would constitute the continent’s dense network of death squads. At the same time that Chase Manhattan, Chemical, Manufacturers Hanover, and Morgan Guaranty were promoting, through the establishment of the Trilateral Commission, a more conciliatory economic policy in the third world, they were cutting off credit to Chile, making, in accordance with Nixon’s directive, its economy “scream.’ And at the same time that every American president from Truman to Nixon was embracing Keynesianism, the University of Chicago’s Economics Department, with financial support from the US government, had turned itself into free-market madrassa that indoctrinated a generation of Latin American economists to spearhead an international capitalist insurgency.

                      Throughout the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, though, the revolution seemed to be forever deferred. In the late 1960s, the Chicago Boys had drawn up the platform of Allende’s nationalist opponent in the 1970 election, which included many of the proposals that eventually would be implemented under Pinochet. But Allende won, so Chile had to wait. In the meantime, the military junta in Brazil, which took power in 1964, had invited Friedman in 1973 down for advice, which it took for awhile. A severe recession and skyrocketing unemployment followed. Friedman pronounced this first application of “shock therapy’ an “economic miracle.’ But the generals, wisely it seems, demurred, returning to its state-directed program of industrialization that, while failing to curb inflation, did lower unemployment and lay the foundations for Brazil’s current economic dominance of Latin America. Richard Nixon too, early in his first term, showed promise, but then he raised tariffs, introduced wage and price controls and, with an eye to the 1972 election, declared himself a Keynesian and opened up the money spout. Nixon was an “enormous disappointment,’ reflected Friedman.

                      Did they do it all by themselves?

                      No, but no one is saying that. They are saying they were involved, that you can’t divorce Chicago from what went on in S.America during the 70’s and 80’s.

                    • Gosman

                      Ummmm…. if you have been following the debate here, (which plainly you missed a major bit of), you will have seen Bill make the outrageous linkage between the overthrow of the allende regime in Chile and the Chicago school of Economics theories on monetarism.

                      To help refresh your memory here is what Bill stated “Chicago School overthrow of Allende by US and installation of Pinochet… “. This is plainly a ridiculous asertion as your links have provided evidence that the Chicago boys didn’t get involved until AFTER the coup in 1973.

                      Hence they aren’t responsible for the coup. Their ideas and assistence were used by the military regime afterwards as an economic blueprint for development. But if you are going to use that argument then so too are Singapores economic ideas tainted because they are associated with the anti-democratic regime of Lee Kuan Yew.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      It’s no less ridiculous to say that :

                      “Milton Friedman and the Chicago boy’s didn’t get involved in Chile until two years after the Coup.”

                      Unless you are saying that the last two paras of the above quote are false. maybe they are, I don’t know. But according to that they wrote the policy for Allende’s opponent. They lost of course, and so refocussed on Brazil for a while.

                      But the fact remains that the Boys were deeply involved in S.American strongman politics for a long time, and saw no need to disassociate themselves when nuns started ‘falling’ out of helicopters. The new definition of freedom demanded such things.

                      If your defense is that they didn’t commit some particular act, amoungst many similar, then fair enough I suppose. But it seems a rather pedanatic ditch to stand in all day.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    There’s a reason why it’s called the Washington Consensus.

              • Lew

                Not “any” change, chap. This specific change.

                Anyway, whether you agree isn’t really material. It’s how it is. Though I’d love to see you argue the point with Pablo, that’d be awesome.

                L

  5. tsmithfield 5

    Except its not an attack on unions at all.

    The change to the law does not prevent unions from visiting sites. Only that the union must first get the consent of the employer which cannot be unreasonably withheld.

    So unions can still visit workplaces and employers have to give them access. However just not at times that are extremely inconvenient for the employer. For instance when there is an urgent job to finish for a client etc. I don’t think this is a lot different to the previous law is it? And this provision is just common sense isn’t it?

    • IrishBill 5.1

      The change to the law does not prevent unions from visiting sites. Only that the union must first get the consent of the employer which cannot be unreasonably withheld.

      Unions already struggle to get on site if employers don’t want them there. This will stop them altogether. Which is the point. Which you know. Which makes your comment not only stupid but dishonest.

      • tsmithfield 5.1.1

        Irish, I would agree with you if the “unreasonable” part has no teeth for the unions to force compliance. However, assuming there is a reasonably straightforward process for the unions available to unions, then there will be a threshold of annoyance level for employers that makes it easier for them simply to comply with the request than tangle themselves up in processes that the would rather avoid.

        • IrishBill 5.1.1.1

          Nope. That’s not how it works now – in fact unions have to go to court to get access to some employers’ sites under the current law. That takes time and resources that are already stretched. “Unreasonable” and it’s myriad definitions will increase the number of times this happens, probably to the point it can’t be done.

          • TightyRighty 5.1.1.1.1

            Maybe if they weren’t spending so much keeping a certain defunct political party alive they could do more real work for worker’s rights?

          • tsmithfield 5.1.1.1.2

            Well the problem seems to be with the process then rather than the law. The enforcement process was something that Labour obviously didn’t get right from the outset.

            If there was a quick and easy process available to determine if employers were being reasonable or not then problem solved.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1.2.1

              It’s quite simple: Keeping the union representatives out at all is unreasonable.

              • tsmithfield

                No its not. There are many times when it is simply inconvenient or the people they want to see are unavailable for many legitimate reasons. So there always has to be a “reasonable” component from both sides both with the old law and the new one.

                As I said the answer is a quick and efficient process to ensure access when employers aren’t being reasonable.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Yes it is and yes it does. Like s59 which allowed child abusers off due to “reasonableness” unions will be kept out of work places the same way.

      • Ari 5.2.1

        To make clear why…

        There were already provisions in the law requiring union reps work around considerations such as workplace flow. They were perfectly sufficient and Labour put them in place to make a balanced law. There was no need to change that, as any interpretation of the new language that implies it isn’t abusable would also imply you were perfectly fine with the old language.

        If they’re not trying to open up a way for employers to make things more difficult for workers, why not just copy and paste from the ERA?

  6. Pascal's bookie 6

    “The marriage of Corporate and Government powers’

    NextGen is a new concept, a groundbreaking organisation of New Zealand’s future business and political leaders supported by the National Party. This group offers young professionals under the age of 40 the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers and network with the powerbrokers and entrepreneurs currently at the top of their game. These connections seek to inspire greatness and empower our leaders of tomorrow. Are you NextGen?

    They chose the colour scheme all by themselves.

    http://www.nextgen.org.nz/

    • IrishBill 6.1

      I hope they don’t “connect with like-minded peers and network” during work hours.

  7. graham 7

    Their is nothing to stop the union having a meeting after work is there now?

    • IrishBill 7.1

      There’s also nothing to stop the workers walking out to have a meeting outside the gate. And nothing to stop them doing it at peak production.

      • burt 7.1.1

        Exactly, but be honest – not much recruiting potential when meeting members off site. Less recruiting means less money to donate to Labour. Remind me again why the building I work in has signs “absolutely no hawkers’. Oh I know unions are special and have partisan support making them special, is that because they would not be viable without such special privilege in employment law?

      • Rosy 7.1.2

        Except if you’re working within a 90-day trial period, I expect 😉

  8. Histoirical perspective is important in this debate. In the past these sorts of ruses with access were used to prevent effective organisation of workplaces.

    This is one of a number of policy decisions designed to weaken further the Trade Union movement. The Nats will not be satisfied until the trade union movement is destroyed.

    I discovered an interesting briefing paper given to Wilkinson by DOL. It was prepared to address the possible change in policy.

    It states:

    There does not appear to be widespread evidence of union representatives exercising their current rights to enter workplaces in an inappropriate way, resulting in disruption for business operations or adversely impacting on the employment relationship between employer and union members.

    and

    the current policy settings around union access are generally working well for both employers and employees

    I do not see there being a compelling case for change.

    The report is at http://www.dol.govt.nz/initiatives/workplace/ers/unionaccess.asp

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    There are a lot of instant would-be experts popping up here on industrial law and practice that normally wouldn’t give a continental about us workers, and some rather nasty types too. Even the prime minister, not known for his like of detail is into it trying to demonise meatworkers, surely one of the most unpleasant occupations ever, for their sick leave habits.

    So the ideology involved is coming from somewhere right? pun intended.

  10. burt 10

    If Unions are not viable without special privelege in employment legislation then we should not have them. If they provide any value to their members (rather than just raise funds for Labour) then they will survive on an equal legal footing with any other organisation. Suck it up and stop expecting special treatment – that was 1900’s mentality, we have moved on.

    • The Voice of Reason 10.1

      Unions are voluntary organisations, Burt and the members seem convinced that unions have a place in the workplace. Their workplace, in particular. That special privilege you talk about is actually a right, earned at high cost indeed and access rights are enjoyed by all sorts of people. Coppers, firemen, council workers, electrical workers, the list is long and varied.

      • burt 10.1.1

        Unions are voluntary organisations, Burt and the members seem convinced that unions have a place in the workplace.

        As far as the public service goes perhaps the $1,500/year incentive helps convince people unions are worthwhile… I’m not sure many people get paid extra to have the firemen enter the building but hey, you say there is no special privilege so what would I know.

      • burt 10.1.2

        If it is OK to pay people to join the union then it is also OK to pay people if they don’t join the union.

        I like playing chess, perhaps I could offer my employees $1,500/year if they join a chess club. Hey then I could say all my employees voluntarily play chess.

        If the unions can’t stand on their own two feet without either compulsory membership or direct financial incentive to join then they should be shut down.

        • felix 10.1.2.1

          Union members get better contracts with better pay. Isn’t that a direct financial incentive to join?

        • Puddleglum 10.1.2.2

          Burt, how about this?

          “I could pay someone $30,000 a year to do my typing. I guess then I could say they type for me voluntarily!” (What a joke. We all really know – I’m assuming you’ll argue, Burt – that it can’t possibly be ‘voluntary’ because their getting $30,000 a year.)

          In a strange sort of way, though, I agree with you. Surprisingly small amounts of monetary reward can be coercive – when the alternative is penury. So much, then, for the notion that the capitalist marketplace is all about freedom (Burt inadvertently showed the flaw in your logic Mr Friedman! Capitalism and freedom do not go hand in hand.)

          • burt 10.1.2.2.1

            I could pay someone $30,000 a year to do my typing or I could pay them $31,500 to do my typing if they join the union – hey wow, look all my employees think there is value in joing the union. It’s a joke isn’t it.

            • felix 10.1.2.2.1.1

              But there’s already the higher pay and better conditions that union members enjoy burt.

              There’s already value in it.

            • loota 10.1.2.2.1.2

              It gets even worse burt, it means you can’t treat your employees like dirt or pull the wool over their eyes and cheat them out of their entitlements. Just awful eh.

              catcha: TRASH

            • burt 10.1.2.2.1.3

              felix

              You are full of it, one size fits all pay rise based on CPI is the standard MO for union staff, the non union members negotiate their own pay and having a relationship with their management based on a today model rather than a 1900’s stick it to the man confrontation model – they do a lot better.

              I’ll tell you what, if I say to my employees I’ll up your pay by $x if you cancel your union membership then the unions will be comfortable with that won’t they. They will say; well I guess we can’t match that incentive so having coerced them to join the union by offering a ‘join the union bonus payment’ it’s only fair that members can be coerced away from the union. Live by the sword, die by the sword and all that. Try it felix and find out just how much the unions want to have their cake and eat it. They would cry foul because they apparently need to have a one way street to keep their number numbers up. My whole point felix, they can’t survive without using methods that if used against them would be the end of the world ..

              loota

              See the comments about 2010 employer/employee relationships and 1900’s stick it to the man relationships. Are you Chris Trotter by any chance ?

              • Pascal's bookie

                “…they do a lot better.”

                Ooh look, it’s like empiricism but without the evidence. No doubt the anecdata is available on request.

              • felix

                Meanwhile back IRL, if you join a union you’ll most likely get better pay and conditions than if you don’t.

  11. Maggie 11

    Rightwing politicians can’t help themselves, they have to get their grubby fingers into IR.

    Jug Ears Abbott is now trying to divorce himself from Work Choices, wriggling like a worm on a hook.

    • Gosman 11.1

      Ummmm…. so are you stating that Governments from the right of the political spectrum shouldn’t be able to touch Industrial Relations even though they might have a democratic mandate to do so????

      Does this mean that you also believe Left leaning governments can’t set business regulations because that is the domain of right leaning parties?

      • roger nome 11.1.1

        Goss – despite being broadly in agreement with green ethics, I recomend you throw out your dead light-bulbs instead of “recycling” them like you are.

        • Gosman 11.1.1.1

          I’m was just replying to a stupid and inane posting on this topic by Maggie. Similar to what I’m doing now. What’s your excuse?

  12. Bill 12

    Civilised Monkey Wrenching 101

    If the employer is going to restrict access to union representatives, then what is to prevent the union from issuing ‘right to represent’ notices to all members and then requesting access for each and every union representative each and every day and not accessing the site/workplace until such permission has been given in writing to each and every representative?

    Each and every representative is of course wishing to enter the workplace for the sake of unspecified union business…or if a reason is needed under the new law, cover one another’s back, build solidarity, plot and plan etc . So the employer would have to drag shit through the courts to claim unlawful strike action or whatever.

    An even better case for unions might be if it paid all its representatives a stipend. This, a nominal sum of money, could then be used to counter arguments centred around employer rights to demand certain behaviours from paid employees.

    Just a few thoughts.

  13. Rharn 13

    Very few know about the connections between ‘Rodgernomics’ and the influence of the Chicago School of Economics in respect of the Pinochet regime. Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship was the first country to put into practice Milton Friedman’s economic theories.

    There is a school of thought that believes that this was the ‘real’ reason for the overthrow of Allende.

    • Bill 13.1

      It was certainly a reason if not the reason.

      Pinochet’s economic advisers were all ‘Chicago School’. And they didn’t appear on the scene over a period of time. They were right there from day one orchestrating.

  14. Pablo 14

    I lived in Chile during the dictatorship and went to grad school alongside Chileans (many of whom were military officers) who were studying economics under Friedman and Arnold Harberger (Friedman’s lieutenant and the person with direct connections to the Pinochet regime because he was a paid advisor to the dictatorship). My father was a close friend of PIneda. I can state categorically that there was a Chicago School presence in the Pinochet regime from very early on after the 1973 coup (the regime spent the first year after the coup imprisoning and killing its opponents, so there was not a coherent economic strategy put in place until 1975).

    In researching a book on labour politics in peripheral democracies that includes Chile and New Zealand as case studies (Palgrave/McMillan, 2003), my co-author and I discovered that Pineda advised Douglas and Prebble on how to undertake pro-market labour market reform, and that he was a frequent paid visitor/consultant to the Business Round Table. In fact, there was two-way traffic between Santiago and Wellington in the 1980s on matters of economic policy, connections that were maintained in spite of NZ’s rhetorical condemnation of the Pinochet regime for its human rights abuses. Because of the divisions caused by the turn to monetarism and other issues such as the non-nuclear stance, the Lange government did fully implement PIneda’s prescriptions regarding labour market reform. But as soon as National entered office, it did. Ruth Richardson was the champion of those reforms. As I said in the KP post, it is those provisions in the ECA that are now what National is proposing to return to. So as others have noted, there is a direct personal and ideological link between these labor law reform proposals and Pinochet. In fact, there is just one degree of separation between them.

  15. As I have posted on Kiwipolitico, Pablo has invented a Pepe Pineda Рit was Jose Pi̱era who introduced tha Plan Laboral. The thrust of his argument is, however, correct in relation to the model that Mr Birch set in place in the early 1990s. The interesting and largely still unexplored issue is how the ECA was put together and how it drew on the Plan laboral, amongst other sources.

    I note in passing that, whilst Chile was the first wholesale application of neo-liberal structural reform in LA, it is wrong to see the coup against President Allende as a plot by neo-liberals for power. The interesting period is 1973-5, when there was much jockeying for position around Pinochet. In this period, Chicago came to the fore for complex reasons.

  16. Pablo 16

    Robert Winter has correctly noted that I misspelled Pinera’s name ( I still have not figured how to do the “~” sign on my Mac). My apologies for that. For those who may not realise it, “Pepe” was his nickname, and was what he was commonly called by those who knew him. Nothing was invented. Grammatical mistakes notwithstanding, the thrust of my argument remains intact.

    • I abjectly withdraw “invented”…..

    • Ari 16.2

      In HTML escape code it’s “&ntilde” for lowercase, followed by a semicolon. Uppercase is “&Ntilde”, appropriately enough. I think you can probably get the tilde that way pretty easily writing on your blog. 🙂

    • Gosman 16.3

      Pablo,

      Would you agree that the Chicago School of economics had nothing to do with the actual coup in Chile in 1973?

      The reason I’m asking is people like mickeysavage are under the sever misapprehension for some reason that the two are linked.

      • Bored 16.3.1

        A little edification required here: a group of 8 Chilean economists collectively wrote an economic plan referred to as the “Brick’ for the planners of the Chilean coup prior to the event. Trained under Freidman at the Chicago school they had tried to influence Chilean economics in the early 70s. When the democratically elected government ignored their advice they became a central component of the plotted coup, effectively partners with the army officers and CIA.

        You can argue that the “growth’ of the Chilean economy has outstripped the rest of South America, in whose hands the resultant wealth resides and who has benefited most is the real issue. What cannot be argued is that the Chicago schooled economists were prepared to undertake an illegal insurgency to enforce their ideology upon the people of Chile along with the resultant loss of life and liberty. I for one see very little ethical difference between these free market ideologues and Marxists who utilize totalitarian means to enforce their excesses.

  17. Pablo 17

    Gossman: You are correct that the Chicago Boys did not have anything to do with the coup itself, although the US government certainly did. What the Chicago economists were able to do as of 1975 was to dominate economic policy-making and use Chile as a test case for their monetarist philosophies (there were more than one) under the repressive mantle of authoritarianism. Chile, in other words, was their lab rat. Between 1973-75 there were major differences within the junta on what the direction of economic policy should be, with some factions more nationalist and statist than others. The how and why of the ascendence of the Chicago Boys by 1975 is the subject of much debate and conjecture, but however they did it, as of 1975 they were running the show and continued to do so right through the transition to democracy. In fact, their post 1990 intellectual heirs still dominate Chilean economic thought, even when left-centre governments hold office (just like in NZ). That Pinera’s son (and now Chilean president) made his millions by exploiting his father’s insider position and and his access to privileged information about pending policy changes (for example, with regard to the deregulation of the financial and health services sectors) means less to the Chilean public than the fact that he, like John Key, was a “self-made” millionaire. So as it turns out, the parallels and connection between the two countries continue to run deep, at least on the right wing side of the ledger.

    • Gosman 17.1

      It is hardly surprising that “their post 1990 intellectual heirs still dominate Chilean economic thought, even when left-centre governments hold office” as Chile has had one of the most consistent economic growth rates in the whole of south America since 1990.

      What people seem to be confusing here is that although Chile adopted the Chicago School economic policies while it was under a brutal right-wing dicatotorship doesn’t mean the policies CAUSE countries to become brutal right wing dictatorships. They aren’t even tainted by the fact that a right wing dicatorship decided to follow them. If the Chinese communist party follows a particular land reform policy does that mean land reform is bad?

      Cuba is a brutal left wing dictatorship. However Cuba also has some interesting ideas on delivery of primary health care which might have some benefit if applied in other locations. Just because Cuba is ruled by a nasty left wing regime it would be silly to say the ideas behind the policy are somehow tainted.

      (Waiting for people to argue that Cuba isn’t really a brutal totalitarian state…)

    • Bored 17.2

      See above about the “Brick”, there is blood on their hands.

      • Gosman 17.2.1

        Then so do all the Trade Union representatives who travelled to Communist nations and expressed solidarity with the “workers state”.

  18. Pablo 18

    Bored:

    I disagree with you. Although monetarists were involved in the unsuccessful 1970 presidential campaign of the Christian Democratic Frei (who lost to Allende on a plurality after the Right split into 3 contending factions), they were not actively involved in the coup. Allegations of such have circulated since then, and your allegations about the brick notwithstanding, to date there has been to conclusive evidence provided that shows that conservative economists actively participated in the planning and execution of the Sept 11, 1973 coup. What they did do was exploit the opportunity. As I have said on this thread and have written about at some length in scholarly fora, the 1973-75 years marked the “purgative” phase of the Pinochet regmime, which was marked by the elimination of the Left as a political force. Murder, torture, mass arrests, forced exile and disappearances were coupled with prohibitions on strikes, a banning of political parties and unions, and the declaration of a state of siege with a dusk to dawn curfew. At the same time the newly formed junta debated the merits of a number of policy approaches. For example, Air Force General Leigh argued for a more state-oriented economic model with corporatist underpinnings along the lines of the Velasco regime in Peru. Admiral Merino argued for an improved export driven model but with state control of the financial sector. Carabinero (Gendarme) chief Contreras saw continued utility in reforming but not breaking with the import substitution industrialisation model. Pinochet had the monetarist’s line in his ear. It took a full two years before the purge was completed and the reconstruction phase could begin, which is when the Chicago Boys were given carte blanche to revamp the economy. They succeeded in having their views prevail within the junta not so much because of their logic but because Pinochet, as the commander of the largest armed service, had much more muscle with which to impose his preferences. In fact, Leigh subsequently died in mysterious circumstances during a period in which he was calling for a revolving junta leadership rather than the Army-dominated framework in which Pinochet was the first amongst equals.

    Which is a long way of saying that you greatly overestimate the influence and role of the Chicago Boys in the making of the coup.

    • Bored 18.1

      I am not so sure given the sources I read, we may have to disagree. However either way, as you say they colluded post the event with a tyranny. For which they again stand damned by active association.

      • Pablo 18.1.1

        Bored:
        On that charge we completely agree. They were (and many still are) unreconstructed authoritarian supporters who lined their own pockets as they engineered the sell-off of state assets and privatised the education, health and welfare systems. Unfortunately, one of them is now Chile’s president. And yet it is these people who are the intellectual inspiration for, and early advisors to, the labour law reforms embodied in the ECA and the most recent reforms proposed by the NACTs. Shame on them.

  19. I have never understood how any employee does not realise that its important to be a member of the union . Workers still have to struggle for decent conditions and very few employers, if any, volunteer to give their workers a rise in wages. Most employers discourage workers from joining unions and in times of mass unemployment its easy to convince an employee that union membership is not desirable. Then there is the employee who just refuses to join for some fathomless reason , however these same bludgers are usually first in line to collect the benifits unions have fought for. The fact are ,regardless of what Right-Wing anti -unionist
    may say , all the all work place conditions and safety rules have only come about because of union activity . Any worker who is not in a union , under todays conditions is a fool ,a complete fool!!

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