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Question

Written By: - Date published: 11:56 am, July 3rd, 2008 - 71 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Howcome when capital goes on strike over political issues it’s seen as a legitimate part of democracy, but if workers tried the same thing it would be illegal under the Employment Relations Act?

[UPDATE: Seems frog had similar thoughts over here.]

71 comments on “Question”

  1. Dilip 1

    Very simple reason Tane. 67% of commercial transport industry is individual owner drivers. They decide whether to go strike and face economic consequence to their business if they do it. This is not big business on strike, this is small business fed up with Government taking them for granted, not consulting, imposing higher and higher cost, and financially screwing over.

    Ninety percent of commercial truck business are 1-5 trucks. Sixtyseven percent of commercial truck business are just one truck. This is not big business tane.

  2. Matthew Pilott 2

    this is small business fed up with Government taking them for granted, not consulting, imposing higher and higher cost, and financially screwing over.

    Sure, they’d voluntarily pay higher RUC to fund roading improvements. Maybe we should leave an honesty box in each business.

  3. Tane 3

    I’m not interested in whether the owner of capital is big or small. I’m simply highlighting the hypocrisy here – when owners of capital go on strike to further their own political interests they’re standing up for democracy. When workers try the same thing they’re charged with breaking the law.

  4. Bloody good question, tane.

  5. rjs131 5

    Because they are the ones as the small business owners that are losing out by not working during that time. It is a protest not a strike..

    Surely if sympathy strikes over non bargaining matters were a good thing and depriving workers of their legitimate rights, then high profile Labour ex unionists, who we are told have an equal share in policy, such as Darien Fenton, Sue Moroney, Taito Philip Field and Lesley Soper would have insisted that it be introduced and resigned if it wasnt

  6. vto 6

    I thought it was legal to strike.

    captcha: sinking due, he he

  7. Dilip 7

    Because when workers go on strike for political reason he is risking not just his labour but committing employer’s capital to strike as well Tane. Worker doesn’t have right to risk anything other than labour Tane. If worker want to protest he can resign from job and then protest. If business owner goes on strike he still has to pay workers and he risks own capital.

  8. BeShakey 8

    I thought there were too many bureacrats? Now we need to get more so that we can ‘consult’ with business. I loved the way the guy on Sunrise complained that the lack of consultation was because there were too many bureacrats. He is as bad as English, no matter what the issue, the real problem is the bureacracts.

  9. vto. it’s not legal to strike for political reasons. eg. workers can’t legally strike when petrol excise is adjusted for inflation.

    rjs131. strike/protest it’s semantics.

    Dilip. That’s actually the msot intelligent comment I’ve seen from a rightwing commentator in ages. It’s still wrong though – the worker only denies his labour, if the capitalist can’t find labour to operate his capital, that’s not the workers’ fault, he has no duty to man the capital, he’s not a serf.

  10. Dominic 10

    So capitalists can strike but workers can’t. Where do I sign up to this capitalist democracy you speak of?

  11. frog 11

    Nice post Tane, good to see someone else thought there was a double standard here. Are NDU or AWUNZ truck drivers allowed to refuse to protest for their company if they want? They are allowed to opt out of union protests.

    Funny – when I raise the question the comments in reply focus mostly on transport costs. When Tane raises it the comments focus mostly on employment relations. Shows the value of having a diverse, inclusive blogosphere!

  12. Billy 12

    …he has no duty to man the capital, he’s not a serf.

    Course he does if he freely promised he would.

    This is just so bogus. What the truck drivers are proposing to do is by no sensible definition a strike.

  13. vto 13

    I wish I could strike. Bloody economy is about to zap me with a lightning bolt.

  14. Billy. Of course it’s a strike.

    In fact here’s a sensible definition of ‘strike’ from The Free Online Dictionary “A temporary stoppage of normal activity undertaken as a protest”

    or from Webster’s “a temporary stoppage of activities in protest against an act or condition”

    – that’s precisely what the truck companies are doing.

    captcha: “Manufacturers purse” awesome.

  15. Matthew Pilott 15

    vto – I did promise to run away one day and grow turnips on an island, untouched by the evils of globalisation and capitalism, oblivious to peak oil and global warming (clearly not an atoll). That’s as close as you’ll get to ‘striking’ from ‘the economy’ until the revolution. Application forms available…

  16. Pascal's bookie 16

    “Application forms available ”

    Turnips are the devil’s vegetable. Count me out.

  17. Billy 17

    Well OK, clever clogs. But the truck drivers are withdrawing their labour from themselves. So it’s not the same thing.

  18. vto 18

    Mr Pilott I will be doing the kiwi version – whitebaiting on the coast. Only 8 weeks to go!

  19. Rex Widerstrom 19

    Trucks blocking the way into the city?! Where’s this guy when you need him, huh?

    I hope you’re not implying “capital” (which is in fact people – in this case the owners of small businesses, often employing only themselves) shouldn’t be allowed to strike?

    Of course both they and workers should have the right to take whatever protest action they wish without penalty – it’s a democracy after all.

    But quite how one can take that view while supporting the EFA – which created two classes with very different rights to speech: exisiting Parliamentary parties and everyone else – without seeing the inconsistency is beyond me.

  20. randal 20

    all I can see is a whole lot of rugged individuals who are not so rugged when it comes down to it. they ok when everything is going forward but the moment the tide goes out they begin to whinge like all the rest of the tin pot tories or two bob snobs. Just because they own their own truck means nothing to a currency trader in New York or an oil trader on the London exchange

  21. fraser 21

    also keep in mind that this isnt a strike along the lines of “we are refusing to do X” this is a strike that has as its main intent the purpose of shutting down central aucklands traffic (and therefore auckland) for several hours – if not most of the morning.

    Im yet to know enough about the situation to sit either side of this one, but i dont appreciate the attempt to use aucklanders (or any populace) as leverage for a political protest.

    Why arent they blockading parliament instead? (they could also then leverage the “journey to parliament” in the media as well)

    seems like the main result of this will be a lot of f****d off commuters

  22. Julie 22

    Good to see that some people still think all workers (and owners for that matter) are male. /sarcasm

    Anyway, this shemozzle has put me in mind of many years ago when Major was British PM and the farmers in the UK did a similar thing (probably over some EU related issue, I forget) and Major, outraged, proclaimed on the telly “GET YOUR TRACTORS OFF MY LAWN!!!” For some reason I’ve never quite shaken the mental image.

    And apparently they are blockading in Wellington too, I think I just heard that on the 1pm news. 7am – 10am tomorrow?

  23. vto 23

    I have sympathy for the truck drivers and reacted with some minor glee when I heard about it. But I used to hate with a vengeance the Cook Strait ferry strikes for dragging Joe Public into their personal problems.

    Same applies here I guess. You have a good point mr fraser. Are they the new ‘wharfies’?

  24. Julie. I chose to use gendered language because the lack of a proper gender-neutral singular third person in English is a pain in the arse. This time is was he, other times it’s she – it’s standard practice from law school. Accusing people of misogyny when it’s not there ain’t cool.

    captcha: to CALIFORNIA – where captcha leaving for if Labour wins the election?

  25. Matthew: “Sure, they’d voluntarily pay higher RUC to fund roading improvements.”

    Of course they wouldn’t but that is not the issue here. The truck drivers who make up the “Sixtyseven percent of commercial truck business are just one truck.” are going to get screwed over by the Government subsidizing a rail company that competes directly with all those owner-drivers. So they know that these extra RUC will be going into subsidizing this competitor.

    No one (except for maybe a few sadomasochists) wants to pay to get shafted.

  26. Julie 26

    I wasn’t having a go at you specifically Steve, but I see the lead that you have set, by using male pronouns, has continued in this thread. Citing “standard practice from law school” isn’t a free pass to assume your language is inclusive, imho. Anyway your comments are your comments, not mine, so you are entitled to do whatever you want, language wise, I look forward to seeing you and commenters here use female pronouns in the future. Arguments made here (in posts and comments) aren’t above scrutiny, so why shouldn’t choice of language be open to critique?

    In case you can’t tell I don’t have much truck (boom boom) with the claim that it’s simply easier, in English, to use gendered language (almost always male) to imply inclusion of both genders. Many of us are sniggering away at Key’s imprecision but perhaps sometimes we (including myself) need to consider our own?

    IIRC, this thread is about truck drivers, withdrawl of labour, and the view that the former doing the latter is not really that different from workers striking isn’t it? I didn’t expect an irritated aside about pronouns to derail things, and I hope it doesn’t.

  27. Matthew Pilott 27

    Bryan, I’ve already shown that all RUC are going towards new roading projects, apart from the standard allocation for PT (see the Taumarunui thread). Now, didn’t you mention a while back that rail’s worthless and we’ll alays need torucks for end-line distribution? Could have been someone else.

    So the issue here is that all RUC goes into roads and simply because the government is supporting an industry that competes with some aspects of theirs, they’re going to ruin many peoples’ day. Well it’s democracy, the Government isn’t a lobby group for truckies, last I checked.

  28. Vanilla Eis 28

    BS: Sorry, where did the “RUC’s are going to fund Cullens trainset” line come from? I’ve heard it from other posters here, but have yet to see any evidence.

    Actually, if you read the articles around about the blockage, you’ll see that truckies are upset because they can’t bulk-buy their RUC’s before the price rise. As Ms. King says, they bought something like $17.1 million worth in the lead-in to the previous rise.

    Considering that, why is it wrong to raise them without warning? Would you also prefer that petrol companies are forced to give us at least 48 hours notice of any rise in the price of petrol?

  29. Kevyn 29

    How typical of a bunch of fundie commies (come the revolution, indeed!) to pick on such an irrelevancy. Surely the question you should be asking is whether Cullen’s drive to bankrupt the railways competitors is good for workers.

  30. leftrightout 30

    I love how the herald is all over this with ‘extensive coverage’ but come Crosby/Textor it takes them a couple of days to even acknowledge it.

  31. T-rex 31

    Matt – I’d like a form please. Have you got an island picked out that I can inspect? I like a mix of tall sea cliffs and sandy beaches. Something like the one in ‘The Beach’ would be grand.

    And temperate/sub-tropical, so we can grow something that’s not turnips.

  32. bill brown 32

    This weekend I’m gonna blockade an isle at the supermarket because they don’t give any warning of price increases!

  33. Tane 33

    Rex, I support the right of all groups in society to protest, even if I disagree with the protest. Obviously there are caveats involved, as with any complex issue.

    I don’t see any contradiction between that position and support for the principles of the Electoral Finance Act.

  34. Lukas 34

    Tane, did you happen to see the post by frog on the tactics that Labour use at question time while you were at frogblog?

  35. Graeme 35

    I don’t see a double standard – unless you are suggesting that the law permits a lockout for political reasons?

    Workers cannot strike for political protest, employers cannot lock out for political protest. Seems to work equally(even if you disagree with it – it is a standard, not a double standard).

    Do you think the law should allow employers to say: “we disagree with the Government’s tax policy, we want a tax cut, so all you workers don’t come in today – we’re not paying you as a protest”?

  36. Eddie 36

    This is the 2nd increase in road user charges the truckies have had in 19 years – give me a break. Get the freight off the trucks and on to KiwiRail instead. Do everyone a favour.

  37. T-rex 37

    Roads are as close to a user-pays resource as we’ve got. They’re using it. Their cost of use is, even after the increase, FAR lower than someone driving (say) a Pajero considering the relative damage. So they should maybe stop and think about things rather than just whinging like self interested 3 year olds.

    Pajero – twin axle, 2 ton – 1.8c/ton/km
    Large Truck – 5 axle, 30 Ton – 1.1c/ton/km

    This despite the fact that the wear-per-ton increases exponentially as weight increases, not linearly.

    Truckers are already paying significantly less than other road users, despite causing most of the damage to our roads. Oh, and slowing traffic, cutting corners, and representing a risk to other road users that makes SUV’s look positively benign.

    For my money, the sooner they’re replaced by rail the better. Especially since they’re not even prepared to pay their way.

    All this strike will do is convince me that truckers (or at least a significant subgroup thereof) are small minded retards who can’t see past the end of their own rigs.

  38. Webber 38

    I don’t understand how totally out of touch Labour has got. It’s like they’re on a suicide mission. I have always voted Labour, but I won’t this time. I don’t know much about John Keys and don’t really like National but I will probably vote for him this time because Labour are so out of touch.

    What kind of stupidity announces spending hundreds of millions of dollars on rail one day and then increasing road user charges the same day? Has nobody realised in government that fuel is the biggest cost to truckies and they are already having their backs to the wall with paying twice what they were just two years ago? Has nobody stopped to think about how that looks for government to ratchet up prices at the same time?

    Truckies are not rich people. They are hard working working class people who don’t have a union representing their interests. They work about seventy hours a week doing hard, dangerous work normally not for more than about seventy thousand dollars a year. They put all their money into their rigs and they are often tied into contracts with big multinational companies who keep their prices down. It’s hard slog and they’re in big demand from Australia where they can get twice the money for the same work.

    I like reading the standard but you guys are supposed to be fighting for the working class, not defending a labour prime minister who is attacking them with higher costs. Just think about how stupid this whole move is in election year. Truckies have the best communication systems of any industry. They spend all day on the RT chattering to each other. When they go and deliver goods at the warehouse depots, to manufacturers, to supermarkets and shops, to construction sites and to rouding sites they’re talking to more working class people.

    Yesterday I saw a big rig driving through Hamilton and instead of the OVER SIZE sign on the front of the rig, it had OVER HELEN. Truckies are the worst people to make an enemy of. If there’s one issue to bring an end to this government, it’s the stupid decision to make it even harder for truckies to continue operating their businesses.

  39. T-rex 39

    Webber – I completely understand your perspective, and agree that the presentation of the charge increase was APPALLINGLY poorly done.

    But, before you condemn Labours reasons I suggest you read my post above.

    Labour is right to increase the charges. They just suck at marketing the increase.

    They should probably hire C/T

  40. Billy 40

    Get the freight off the trucks and on to KiwiRail instead. Do everyone a favour.

    We used to have a regime in NZ whereby, if you wanted to transport goods over a certain distance by road, you had to get a license from the government, having first established that transport by rail was impracticable. Back then, the justification was purely and unashamedly protecting the rail business then owned by the government.

    I wonder: is this the sort of thing you lefties think is a good idea again?

  41. vto 41

    Interesting points webber, I shall watch it develop with interest. Especially re poll movement effects.

  42. theaveragekeywi 42

    Sure, I understand your argument, good point. But in the bigger picture, trucky operators simply don’t pay their way, they’re to an extent free riders uner the system. 1/3 of all road damage (and therefore maintanance costs) are caused by trucks and they clealy do not contribute 1/3 of the tax. It’s seems like a logical RUC move to me…

    And then there’s the environmental argument which needs no explanation. AS such, I’m with Kiwirail on this one. In the long run, especially with the end of cheap fuel, it’s better for all. And then there’s road safety. The fewer trucks the better.

  43. Tane 43

    Graeme, because we’re not talking about an industrial dispute, we’re talking about a political strike – where a large organised group stop what they’re doing and try to grind the country to a halt to advance a political cause.

    Capital can do that by threatening to leave or by stopping productive work and causing a nuisance (like the truck companies). This is praised as a vital part of democracy.

    Workers don’t own the means of production so can only strike politically by withdrawing their labour, which is illegal.

    Hence the double standard.

  44. theavergekeywi 44

    If more people understood these benefits, rather than buying into the Herald’s sensationalist tactics and Key’s simplistic arguments, maybe the polls would look better..

  45. T-rex 45

    Billy – I wonder: is this the sort of thing you lefties think is a good idea again?

    No. But nor do I think trucks should be subsidised to make them competitive. Would you support a fraction of your RUC going to maintaining/subsidising the railways? Because that’s what’d be required to put road/rail freight on an equal footing.

    If trucks can compete over long haul – let them… but not with subsidies from other drivers.

    If they can’t, then I’d expect rail to become the dominant method for long distance naturally without legislating.

  46. vto 46

    Those of you who think truck drivers are subsidised or free-loading etc, that’s simply not quite right. What you mean is the trucking industry is subsidised (if it in fact is). But the people that work in it are certainly not.

    If the so-called true costs were lumped onto the trucking industry then quite clearly trucking costs would increase. But the amount earned by the operators within the industry would not change at all. Though there may be a few one-off blood lettings or windfalls during a changeover period but it would eventually equilibrialise so that the operators are in about the position they are now.

    This is simple business and investment behaviour that is as certain as Mr Pilott’s Turnip Island is a fantasy.

  47. lprent 47

    Billy:

    I wonder: is this the sort of thing you lefties think is a good idea again?

    Depends on who you talk to.

    I wouldn’t because I had to deal with that system. It used to take me weeks to get a pallete of bricks from Whangarei to Tiwai. There wasn’t any particular reason for it except from crappy scheduling and packing.

    But that is mostly a management and software problem. Actually mostly software really – more consistent than managers. There is no particular reason why trucks shouldn’t be blown off by rail for long distance heavy freight in NZ. Especially where the sender and target are close to railheads or where stuff is sent via containers (as it should be).

  48. T-rex 48

    vto – so what?

    You’re saying that the increase in costs will be passed straight onto the user and the situation for the operator won’t change at all?

    Why, then, are they protesting?

    In any event, I still can’t think of a reason why they, as an industry, should have to internalise the clear costs they’re presently imposing on others.

    Re: Turnip island – Have you read Atlas Shrugged? It’s probably happened already.

  49. T-rex 49

    Lynn – Either way you won’t have to legislate.

    It’s a simple cause:effect system with clearly measurable costs and outcomes – just the kind of optimisation problem free markets are good at solving.

    As opposed most other sorts of optimisation problem.

  50. Graeme 50

    I agree that under the current law workers can’t withhold their labour from their employers as a political protest. I just note too that under the current law owners cannot withhold their capital from their workers as a political protest.

    You are quite right that this is not an industrial dispute (i.e. a dispute between workers and industry), but I note that workers protesting about ACC privatisation would not be an industrial dispute either.

    There are no additional legal impositions on workers deciding to protest against ACC privatisation by driving slow on the motorway over and above any impositions on employers from doing it, but workers cannot punish their employers in doing so – just as employers cannot punish their employees in the course of protest.

  51. bill brown 51

    And now we have a new one – Webber

    “I’ve always voted Labour but I won’t be this time ’cause it’s time for a change”

    Is there a spam bot on the web programmed to spout this line?

    Seems to be a new one about once per week.

  52. gobsmacked 52

    Webber

    I can understand your frustration. But watch for the “bait and switch” (see previous discussions). National have only attacked the TIMING of the increase – an easy hit. The words that matter are short, and simple:

    “National will reduce road user charges.”

    Anyone heard that yet?

    (see also: petrol prices)

  53. r0b 53

    If the so-called true costs were lumped onto the trucking industry then quite clearly trucking costs would increase.

    Why are the true costs “so-called” – do roads repair themselves?

    What you describe sounds like the market sending signals to me. I thought the Right was in favour of market signals? Why are we distorting them with a big subsidy?

  54. Tim 54

    It’s just the hypocrisy of the right and the police over issues like this that grates me.

    Imagine if a bunch of cleaners or fast food workers in a union decided to have a sit in and stop traffic in Queen St. The cops would be arresting people left, right and centre and they would be denounced as lawless trouble makers. Will the cops be moving truckies on or arresting them tomorrow? Doubt it.

    To be fair, I support the truckies’ right to make a living, there were quite a few truckies who turned back at picket lines during the Progressive lockout. We need to do something urgently about our dependence on oil but there needs to be an even transition to ensure people’s livelihoods aren’t ruined.

    I’m doing the planet a favour and catching the train to work tomorrow.

  55. But Graeme, what is really happening is the truck companies are denying the economy the production from the use of their trucks for a morning (that’s what a captial strike is, the owner of capital taking their capital out of the economy for political reasons)- the driving slowly down the motorway stuff is just an annoying way of making this capital strike more spectacular.

  56. Julie 56

    Good point Tim, about the reaction of the police if it were workers blocking the road. In fact I recall vividly the police reaction to a small (about 10 car) free education cavalcade that students at UOA tried to do in 1996. They stopped us before we had gone a block (plan was to stop on Harbour Bridge in the middle of the day), threatened to revoke the licences of all the drivers, arrested the spokesperson, and there was a general stand-off on Wellesley St until we realised we weren’t going to go anywhere so we gave up. Wonder what will happen tomorrow morning?

  57. T-rex 57

    How about the fact that the truck companies are denying all other companies in the area the productive output of their workers?

  58. Lew 58

    A few thoughts:

    1. It was incredibly foolish to raise RUCs abruptly, and immediately after buying the rail network back. The government deserves all the bagging they get for this , it’s cynical. King could have obviated most of the bad blood here by simply giving the 30-day warning she said she’d give.

    2. I dispute the designation of independent truck drivers as capital rather than labour. I agree that owner-operators are an edge case, but Webber makes a good point that they themselves are beholden to actual genuine capital interests, and are themselves simply workers with an expensive tool.

    3. The question of whether trucks or rail are more efficient for haulage is decided by two articles of belief: first, do you believe oil is going to become mroe scarce and expensive in the long term?, and second, do you believe that carbon-trading is going to impact on this calculation in the medium term?

    L

  59. AndrewE 59

    Bill Brown:

    And now we have a new one – Webber

    “I’ve always voted Labour but I won’t be this time ’cause it’s time for a change’

    Is there a spam bot on the web programmed to spout this line?

    I’ve always voted Labour but won’t be this time round as well.

    If you look at the polls I would think that there are a lot of us floating around.

  60. Graeme 60

    Steve/T-rex – they are indeed denying economic benefits to other businesses who use the road etc. Just as a bunch of workers driving slowly to work on the motorway would – and the Employment Relations Act would have nothing to say about that.

    The complaint was that there was a double standard because the the Employment Relations Act prohibited employees acting in an analagous way to employers. This is false.

    The Employment Relations Act prohibits political strikes by employees and political lockouts by employers. It has nothing to say about other protest action that might harm the economy engaged in by either.

    The law prohibits workers making a political point by punishing their employers, and it prohibits employers making a political point by punishing their employees. You might disagree, but out of consistency, you should want both or neither.

  61. “The law prohibits workers making a political point by punishing their employers, and it prohibits employers making a political point by punishing their employees.”

    Yes, and Tane’s argument is employees striking for political reasons shouldn’t be banned when the law does allow capital to punish society or the rest of the economy to make a political point.

    Ultimately, you can only hurt by striking those who depend on you to provide your good or service – employees can only punish their employers by striking, capital can punish the rest of the inter-connected economy.

    Remember, it’s not about driving down the road slowly – that’s just political theatre, the strike is the cessation of normal operations.

  62. AndrewE. Why have you always voted Labour and why not this time? (If you’re going over to Green because you’ve always voted for the principles Labour stands for and you think the Greens stand for them too, only more so, then good on you)

  63. Matthew Pilott 63

    Just a thought, if (as Lew mentions) the reason behind this strike is because of the timing and rapid implementation of the announcement, won’t that affect the big companies more than these owner/operators everyone’s up in arms about? They’re the ones that can afford to stockpile, if the government allowed a delay, I’d imagine they’d have to factor in bulk-buying by the big companies when new RUC were set.

    So smaller operators would effectively subsidise the big ones. And if you think that amount would be insignificant, remember the amount in question is the reason for this whole protest (in theory).

    I have a few Decrees to Issue:

    1 – Turnips will not form a state monopoly, swedes and other such produce will be allowed (hope that satisfies, PB).

    2 – The island will be small and horrible, in a poor location (sorry t-rex), so the Libertarians don’t find me when their society self-destructs and the bastards want a hand-out.

    3 – all applications welcome. Cloth cap issued with acceptance and secret coordinates.

  64. Graeme 64

    I can see an argument that employees should be able to make a political point through punishing their employers:

    employers – a publicly-owned state-run ACC system is important to us; so important that we are willing to strike – giving up a day’s pay, and prevent you from operating for that day to the detriment of you and the wider economy, to make that point. The government should see the detriment to the economy and change its mind, and you should see the detriment to you as the employer should push the government to change its mind.

    You can come down on either side, but this makes sense as an argument.

    However, if you permit this, consistency would suggest that you should also permit this:

    employees – a cut in the rate of company tax is important to us; so important that we are willing to impose a lockout, cease operating for a day and give up a day’s earnings, to the detriment of you and the wider economy, to make that point. The government should see the detriment to the economy and change its mind, and you should see the detriment to you you as the workers should push the government to change its mind.

    Do you support both, and are consistent? Or only one, and are not?

  65. I support a workers’ right to srike for political reasons, not a capitalists’ because capitalism already gives all the pwor to the owner of capital, the right to withdraw labour for political reaons is just a small way of redressing that inherent imbalance.

    And, it’s already legal for capital to strike (may be not a one day lock-out but in other ways) and I can’t see a way of making it illegal really.

  66. Rex Widerstrom 66

    Tane, you’re complaining that truckies can “strike” to achieve political ends when workers cannot. I agree entirely – it’s most certainly a case of some animals being more equal than others.

    But you see no contradiction between that and support for the EFA?

    Explain to me then, why Helen Clark and John Key (or Insight and Crosby Textor, if you’d prefer) can spend vast amounts of my, yours and every other taxpayers’ money advancing their political ends but me, you, the EPMU or the Exclusive Bretheren (or the RSPCA, the Salvation Army, the Socialist Workers’ Party or the National Front, come to that) can’t do so without being hogtied in red tape and probably prevented from so doing if we wish to even come close to matching their budgets?

    And don’t say you, me and the SWP don’t have the money to spend – that’s irrelevant. If I get filthy rich (fat chance, alas) and die, I plan a handsome bequest to the RSPCA. So why shouldn’t they be able to spend over $120,000 arguing (rightly, in my view) that they should be government funded?

  67. jbc 67

    Steve; you’re quite bent on this worker/capital distinction. So if a worker saves a deposit and buys a truck then they revoke their right to justified political activism? Do they then become traitors? Scabs?

  68. vto 68

    Isn’t labour a form of capital?

  69. Bill 69

    ‘Millions of lorry drivers have gone on strike across India to protest rising fuel prices and road tolls, union leaders said on Wednesday.

    With 70 per cent of goods transported by truck, a prolonged strike could paralyse the booming Indian economy.’ http://english.aljazeera.net

    If lorry drivers in NZ were not self employed, be it as sub-contractors or whatever, then the Indian scenario would be illegal under the ERA.

    Employees in NZ are hamstrung.The only time a worker can (legally) strike in NZ is during negotiations. Employment Law is and always has been designed to protect Employers.

  70. jbc 70

    If lorry drivers in NZ were not self employed, be it as sub-contractors or whatever, then the Indian scenario would be illegal under the ERA.

    If lorry drivers were employees then they would not care any more about RUC than you or I.

    Do you think we will see commercial pilots (employees) wanting to strike because of the price of jet fuel or landing fees?

  71. DavidW 71

    A propos of this distinction (or equivalence) between a strike and a protest, how do we categorise any one of the hikoi that have occurred. I don’t recall anything of the kind that Tim claimed when the Harbour Bridge was closed:
    “Imagine if a bunch of cleaners or fast food workers in a union decided to have a sit in and stop traffic in Queen St. The cops would be arresting people left, right and centre and they would be denounced as lawless trouble makers. Will the cops be moving truckies on or arresting them tomorrow? Doubt it.”
    Then Tane said
    “Graeme, because we’re not talking about an industrial dispute, we’re talking about a political strike – where a large organised group stop what they’re doing and try to grind the country to a halt to advance a political cause.”
    Care to relate that to the hikoi Tane? and what exactly is wrong or should be illegal about that?

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