There is power in a union

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, December 10th, 2009 - 7 comments
Categories: Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

change in pay union v nonunionAbout a month ago I used the Stats NZ Labour Cost Index to come up with the approximate distribution of payrises for unionised and non-unionised workers. I showed that most union members got payrises this year and most non-union members didn’t.

Turns out that was pretty much on the money.

The EPMU released figures yesterday showing that 95% of its members who negotiated a collective contract this year got a pay rise. Nearly every one of the other members, whose collectives weren’t up for negotiation this year, also got a pay rise because they had been won in earlier negotiations. In other words, if you are in a union (or you freeload off the union members at your workplace), you almost certainly got a payrise this year, at least to match inflation. On the other hand, if you aren’t a member of the union, the odds of you having received a payrise are more like 40%, and much of that will be freeloaders getting pay increases passed on to them that were won by the union*.

The lesson is simple, if you want a pay rise (and you don’t want to be parasite) you’ve got to join your union. If you don’t know which union you have on-site or your site isn’t organised, check out the CTU’s page on which union covers your industry.

In related union news, I hear the security guards and other Parliamentary Services staff won their dispute. The bosses retracted their demands for clawbacks on work conditions like redundancy and caved on giving the workers their pay rises. Well done. With the Police, police support staff, CYFS, and now Parliamentary Services all getting inflation-matching payrises the government’s unilaterally imposed pay freeze is crumbling.

Justice workers, hostpital support staff, and school support staff are still in dispute but if they stand strong they’ll win out. That’s the power in a union.

*(bosses do that because it lowers the value of joining the union – why join if you can be a freeloader? Of course, the bosses are playing the long game – the more people freeload, the weaker the union, and the smaller the payrises)

7 comments on “There is power in a union”

  1. JJ 1

    Good article.

    Sadly, though, staff at parliament haven’t won thier dispute. The boss has agreed to pay out some of the pay rise that should have gone out six months ago, but it’s not across the board, and we’re still fighting for a fair pay system and the right to negotiate our pay – under the agreement we have now, the boss can unilaterally declare a pay freeze every year and there’s nothing we can do about it. The fight will go on at parliament in the new year.

  2. outofbed 2

    Join a Union…..The best way will help close the wage gap with Australia

  3. It’s been interesting to watch this Govt try to pretend that it’s hands off in a number of pay disputes going on in institutions that are part of the state but at arms length, e.g. the weird situation at many polytechs, where individual councils may have agreed to a pay increase but the Govt has been trying to overturn it as it is not inline with their mandate for no pay increases. I see that the TEU members at many polytechs are still undertaking industrial action too, yet the media coverage is non-existent 🙁

  4. Adam Jarvis 4

    The Union forever defending our rights
    Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
    With our brothers and our sisters from many far off lands
    There is power in a Union.

  5. Sturmgewehr 5

    Would that be because most union workers are in the public sector?

  6. prism 6

    capcha – important!
    Time to reprise that great song recorded by the Shwarbs? in Brit in the 1980s? – I’m a union man.

    Second verse something like –
    And I always get my way
    When I strike for higher pay
    I’m not very hard
    But the sight of my card
    Makes me some kind of superman.

    Of course you don’t always get higher pay. I was in a strike once and the miniscule amount extra we received afterwards would have paid off our pay loss after about 5 years.

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