Tau Henare has put a private members’ bill in the ballot that would require ballots by union members on strike action to be held in secret. Henare draws on his memories from the 1980s as a union organiser and reckons that open ballots are used to intimidate workers into toeing the line.
Well, maybe it was like that in the dinosaur unions 30 years ago but these days there’s no compulsory union membership, unions are democratic and members are more committed. Organisers neither have the power nor the need to railroad them or use the open ballot process to intimidate. Most unions, even if it’s not in their rules, typically hold secret ballots as good practice.
I’m sure the Nats see legislating for secret ballots as a way to bugger the unions. They must be under the delusion usually held by bosses that a majority of members of a union who go on strike don’t actually support the action. Otherwise, the law is pretty much pointless from a political point of view.
The EPMU’s Andrew Little doesn’t seem too worried though. The provisions of this bill are already in his union’s rules and, unlike National, he actually understands unions and their members.
If this Bill is drawn from the ballot, there’s no reason for Labour and the Greens not to support it.