The right to strike

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, February 17th, 2015 - 54 comments
Categories: business, employment, national, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,

The right to strike is recognised internationally as a fundamental workers’ right – though it’s not universally respected, like many other basic human rights. Global union IndustriALL notes five reasons why workers need the right to strike:

  1. Striking is a last resort but sometimes the only tool for workers to protect themselves.
  2. To avoid being at the complete mercy of employers.
  3. To give more of a balance between worker and employer power.
  4. Without it, more and more governments will ban industrial action and punish people who dare to strike.
  5. Most strikes are over pay and better working conditions. Without the threat of strike action, corporations will be able to make bigger profits, while working conditions will get worse.

In honour of International Right to Strike Day tomorrow (18 Feb), the CTU is inviting Kiwis to send a message to 20 of New Zealand’s biggest businesses telling them to call out their association’s participation in the global campaign to remove the right to strike.

Back in 2013, National had the nous to trash Jami-Lee Ross’ thoroughly Orwellian-named “Continuity of Labour” Bill, which would have allowed employers to lock out workers and bring in volunteers or contractors to replace them, effectively destroying the power of strike action. The bill was apparently driven up through the National Party’s ranks, and was heavily endorsed by many members – but the government could see it was a step too far, and canned it at first reading in order to get their more “technical” law changes through – including the removal of basic guaranteed rest breaks.

As the third-term desperation sets in, I’m not sure they’d do the same thing again. A fourth term’s never out of the question but with the wheels already falling off the SkyCity “deal” and the Mike Sabin issue denting the PM’s credibility with the press gallery, it’s got to be looking further and further out of reach. So who knows what they’ll try to get through while they’ve got the chance?

54 comments on “The right to strike”

  1. Colonial Rawshark 1

    Workers should be allowed to strike in support of other work places and other industries.

    • Allowed? Since when has the government to allow its citizens the right to exercise their “God” given right to walk away from a slave existence?

      Why are we in a system that keeps everybody in jobs making money for other people while being forced into a subsistence existence?

      Why are we allowing the government to become our parental übermaster?

      In China they have to keep people from jumping off buildings because they work 7 days a week, 14 hours a day in dehumanizing circumstances in what is called a peoples republic. We don’t get to hear about it but when their anger overflows they butcher policemen on the street and their elite is buying up large to escape the wrath of their own people.

      Here we meekly say: We should be allowed to strike!

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1

        🙂

      • dave brown 1.1.2

        Quite right Trav

        Instead of begging a bosses government to allow the right to strike,
        workers have to fight the employment law and take the right to strike.

        A serious strike needs mass pickets that shut down work and prevent scabs working.

        As soon as that happens the cops break the picket line.

        Unless the rank and file control the strike, a strike committee builds support across unions and workers in general, and workers organise self defence against cops.

        You have to go back a long way to find real strikes, and real unions.

        Like the Miners and the Waihi strike of 1912 and the General Strike of 1913.
        These arose when the Red Fed broke from the labour law of the day.

        Such was the power of organised labour to threaten their class rule the bosses welcomed the formation of the Labour Party iin 1916 to lead workers on the parliamentary road to ‘socialism’.

        Like the wharfies lockout of 1951 which lasted 151 days. Which saw the union movement split and the Labour Party “neither for not against”.

        Since that time unions have become the slaves to labour law and the rank and file tamed so that the fight for a general strike against the ECA in 1992 was called off by the CTU led by Ken Douglas in exchange for the unions being recognised as bargaining agents under the bosses new law.

        Little began his time in the EPMU in the CTU led Ken Douglas whose view of the role of unions was to avoid industrial action by getting workers to produce more so that labour and capital could split the reward and live in industrial harmony.

        Back in the days of the Red Fed this would have been condemned as class collaboration.

        • Skinny 1.1.2.1

          +1
          I still hold a grudge against the CTU and a couple of the largest Unions for going down the path they did with ECA. The blunt instrument of mass striking back then
          would see a different world workers live in today.

          If expecting workers to send spam mail to 20 of the largest employers is the best that the CTU can come with, than I hold even less faith in them than I ready did. I mean really how fucking idiotic.

          What just allow the bosses to flick the email details on to the EMA to add theses ungrateful workers details to a database so the can be black listed, oh for goodness sake no wonder Unionism is so weak in the country.

      • Gosman 1.1.3

        I believe nothing is stopping people from deciding to leave a job. The question is over the protection of sticking workers to leave work with minimal notice for a strike and resume work at the end of it. That requires a law.

    • Skinny 1.2

      I use to hold a strike every year, on one occasion just to let the bosses know the workers were still in my court lol.

      Speaking of strikes had a beer with the maritime union pres last night, appears the long running Port of Auckland dispute is about to be settled, currently going thru ratification.

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.2.1

        😀

      • lprent 1.2.2

        That would be good. But I have heard it a couple of times over the last year.

        Mind you, the extent to which Dirty Politics demonstrated last year how Whaleoil had been hired to target unions, including the widespread suspicion that the PoA were his dirty employers, must have helped the arbitration.

        • Skinny 1.2.2.1

          Yes Iprent you can take it as a given the PoA wouldn’t want their dirty antic’s coming out under discovery so they would have been advised to settle all be it at a cost above what they would have preferred.

  2. indiana 2

    If workers were allowed strike to support other workers in other industries and work sites, would employers be allowed to lock out employees to support employers other industries and worksites?

  3. fisiani 3

    I support a worker’s right to strike. It’s an integral part of being a worker. The right not to.This is National Party policy. I cannot see that changing despite the “sky is falling ” diatribe above. In some crucial industries however there may have to be exceptions of course. Everyone has the right to work. Employers provide employment. They are not forced to do so. No one is forced to supply a job and no one has a right to a job. Note I said a job.
    When a job is provided it should pay a reasonable wage and decent working conditions. The right to strike should not be misused and should be infrequent. This is an area in which Left and Centre agree.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      …the right to work…

      Translation: the right to employ strikebreakers during industrial disputes.

    • the “sky is falling ” diatribe above

      Please don’t try to discredit my post by misrepresenting it. Argue the actual points.

      • fisiani 3.2.1

        As the third-term desperation sets in, I’m not sure they’d do the same thing again.

        That’s the “sky is falling’ diatribe.

      • freedom 3.2.2

        regarding your ‘mod’s comment’ on my reply to fisiani below …

        I admit I am a little puzzled at how one of the most important and least publicized aspects of the changing working conditions facing NZ is off topic when discussing strike actions?

        Are you only wanting discussion of the mechanism of a strike action itself, not why people might feel compelled to use the mechanism?

        • By all means, talk about zero-hour contracts as part of the ongoing global push to undermine collective bargaining and the right to strike. But what I don’t “want” is this post being derailed into an interrogation of fisiani’s personal views of employment issues.

          • freedom 3.2.2.1.1

            With respect then Stephanie, I feel you were a little premature in your commenting on the exchange as my next comment to fisiani, who most likely would have presented a caged defence of the subject, was going to be:

            Zero Hour contracts will arguably become the most common thread of discontent across many industries in the future. It may prove to be the most unifying characteristic of changing working conditions that people wish to strike against.

            and that would have been that from me on the topic of Zero Hour contracts on this post

            we cool?

            [Stephanie: Your quibbling isn’t “cool”, freedom. You can make that point without baiting fisiani into trolling first.]

          • The Murphey 3.2.2.1.2

            Q. Stephanie if you are concerned about Fisiani then as a moderator you can issue a ban ?

            Otherwise the pulling up of Freedoms comments would seem trite

            [Stephanie: fisiani’s first comment was silly, but on-topic. freedom’s comment was an invitation to a derail. This was clearly spelled out in my warning.]

    • freedom 3.3

      “When a job is provided it should pay a reasonable wage and decent working conditions.”

      Where do you stand on Zero Hour contracts fisiani?

      [Stephanie: hi freedom – this post isn’t about zero hour contracts and I’d like to keep it on topic, especially where agitators like fisiani are concerned.]

    • The Murphey 3.4

      The right to work was the name of the American equivalent of Continuity of Labour presented by JLR in NZ

      Q. Were you aware of that Fis ?

  4. gsays 4

    i would add another reason for striking, to show workers what power they have and what can be achieved when we cooperate and act as one.

  5. Chooky 5

    NZ workers who join unions are being replaced by overseas workers who do not join unions and work for the absolute minimum eg so I have been told , Duty Free shops…and the Duty Free shops are owned by a foreign company ( what sort of impression does this give overseas visitors to NZ?…NZ is now overseas owned?)

    ….someone needs to design an app so that anyone thinking of going into a shop or cafe can check to see what its employer/worker status is as regards worker rights and employment conditions ….and boycott if necessary

  6. Jay 6

    If John Key is going to start recklessly push things through I expect the government would have propped up the sky city deal.

    “Third term desperation” is wishful thinking. Something huge will have to happen to dent John Key, shooting kittens on live TV maybe?

    I know you’ve put that paragraph in there to round the article off (which it does quite nicely). Trouble is there’s no evidence of it, and a fourth term is surely more likely than not.

    In fact, I expect that John Key is feeling quite optimistic about the 2017 election. Considering how good the economy and mood are in the country, wouldn’t you be too?

    • Stuart Munro 6.1

      A bit more video of him slipping away from vigorous protests – or indeed a fair amount of vigorous protest will end him. In public there’s no pathetic joke of a speaker to protect his vanity and inanity. Johnny likes to be liked – can’t handle the contempt he has earned.

      • fisiani 6.1.1

        What video are you referring to? Can you supply a link? Or did you just imagine it.

        • Skinny 6.1.1.1

          Shouldn’t that be which one fisiani?

          I seen a great one of honesty John standing sneeringly looking at a group protesting with a giant Dirty Politics banner.

          Key the mug made a reference about protestors to the blue ribbon audience inside the election forum. They just sat there in total silence giving him the hard steer. Key was visibly upset at their reaction, bottom lip hanging down. Having arranged the greeting party outside I could not contain my smirk sitting there, when I looked over at the media plebs and nodded half them chuckled especially O Brien & Parkins who knew of the play. Protests can be so much fun glad you approve of them.

          • fisiani 6.1.1.1.1

            Can you or anyone substantiate Stuart Munro’s claim of there being video of John Key slipping away from the recent protest. He is making it up. No such thing happened and there is no such video.

            • Skinny 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Call tv3 news desk they were in on the footage. Sorry cobbah your not worth me texting Gower for the feed.

              • fisiani

                Did so. They agree with me. There is no such footage of a non existent event.

                • Skinny

                  Really? How strange it was their opening headline on Sundays 6pm news. Forget that just be at Alan Gibbs farm entrance this Saturday for the ACT Party AGM.

                  Key will turn up at some stage as he will need to grovel to them for future support. Give Hooton, Hide and Jordan Williams a tip for me, there will be no check points so they can get as pissed as they like. The cops are only for the protesters.
                  I’m off game fishing in the Bay of Islands.
                  Oh and give Sue Bradford my regards.

                  • fisiani

                    Making shit up again. Start Munro made the claim of video of John Key sneaking out is crap.

                    • Paul

                      Your hero appears to be a coward.
                      Funny he’s so keen to send other peoples kids to fight in wars for his Yankee overlords.
                      Tragic you idolise him.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      No … I said only a little more video was required and we’ll be rid of the scoundrel. Declining education standards… I blame Hekia Parata 😉

                    • Skinny

                      Maybe it was edited into the late news bulletin, gave me a laugh the anchor said “Key was forced to slip out the backdoor”. his entry was on at 6pm tho, which is why ya may have missed it. Your a bit of a stickler on details, you got autism?

  7. fisiani 7

    MORE video means there is already some of the so called sneaking away. You are making shit up. So come on give as a link or apologise.

    • This what SM wrote: “A bit more video of him slipping away from vigorous protests … “.

      It may have been written in the context of the recent protest but to say it’s a specific claim that video of Key leaving the yatch club protest exists is over-reaching just a bit.

      It can easily be read as a more general claim that similar video already exists. Which it does. Google John Key and protest and you’ll find Dunnokeyo slip slip slipping away in various parts of this fair land.

      • fisiani 7.1.1

        Nice try but no cigar. Stuart is telling lies

        • te reo putake 7.1.1.1

          Fisiani, SM did not make a specific claim in that sentence and has written above that he did not intend to make a specific claim. You can’t prove otherwise. You’re entitled to your opinion, which you’ve expressed.

          It’s time discussion returned to the original post and related topics.

        • Stuart Munro 7.1.1.2

          Nice try cupcake – now apologise.

        • Lefty 7.1.1.3

          I don’t think there is any video of the actual event but the police staged a diversion so John Key could be slipped out the back door.

          Neither the protesters or the media knew it had happened until they were told by the police some 30 minutes after it happened so there is unlikely to be any footage.

          I know because I was there. I took part in the conversation with the police when they told us they had sneaked Mr Key away.

          We didn’t know whether to believe the police when they told us so they agreed to allow Sue to inspect the premises of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club to make sure he wasn’t still hiding out in there. Sue went in and checked; everyone including Key was gone.

          Stuart seems to be saying video footage of that would be a good thing in terms of undermining Key.

          I agree with that.

      • Stuart Munro 7.1.2

        In fact the video that shows his discomfort best was the welcome he received in my home town, Dunedin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbEG-DydI6Y We have standards, and Key doesn’t meet them.

  8. Nukeme 8

    Totally agree

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