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Two IR bills from the Right

Written By: - Date published: 6:58 pm, February 23rd, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

Two industrial relations bills from the Right were pulled from the ballot today. If I didn’t know better I’d swear these things were rigged.

The first is Roger Douglas’ Youth Minimum Wage (Mitigation of Youth Unemployment) Amendment Bill, which would reintroduce the youth minimum wage, allowing employers to discriminate against 16 and 17 year olds on the basis of age.

The excuse they’re running with this time is that giving young people the same pay for the same work causes higher youth unemployment. The Right’s answer, of course, is to pay them less. But we know that’s bullshit. As Marty has conclusively shown, the rise in youth unemployment we’ve seen under National is simply a result of higher unemployment in general.

Still, it wouldn’t be the ACT Party if they weren’t kicking the vulnerable. The interesting thing will be to see how National reacts.

The second is Tau Henare’s Employment Relations (Workers Secret Ballot for Strikes) Bill, which aims to legislate to fix a problem that doesn’t exist by requiring unions to hold secret ballots before taking strike action – something they already do.

It would appear Tau hasn’t moved on from the 1980s when he was an organiser for the Clerical Workers’ Union. Undemocratic thugs like Tau aren’t tolerated in the unions these days.

As for the bill itself, I think Frog puts it well:

I don’t have a problem with the substance of the Bill. The reason it is bad is because it is a waste of Parliament’s time it addresses a problem that doesn’t exist, because in practice unions make decisions on strikes by secret ballot already. Surely Tau could have found a more pressing public issue to make the subject of a Member’s Bill.

There’s no doubt Tau could have chosen a more worthy and relevant issue for his member’s bill, especially since his party is usually so opposed to ‘unneccessary regulations’. But I suspect this is really about smearing the union movement with dated, cartoonish stereotypes in advance of the coming attacks on our employment rights.

Anyway, I’m still hanging out for that bill from the Right that’s going to lift wages and close the gap with Australia by 2025. I suspect we’ll be waiting for some time.

14 comments on “Two IR bills from the Right ”

  1. big bruv 1

    If ” Undemocratic thugs like Tau aren’t tolerated in the unions these days.” (a statement I find very hard to believe) then what is the problem with making all ballots secret?

    This is a good bill from a less than competant minister, I would have thought that the left would be right behind it.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      (a statement I find very hard to believe)

      That’s not really surprising bb as you do seem to have difficulty in believing in reality. Especially if it goes against your firmly held beliefs.

  2. Descendant Of Smith 2

    Because all ballots don’t need to be secret. It’s a choice. In most cases, and I only say most because I don’t know every unions rules, if only one member wants the ballot to be secret then it must be so.

    Better add groups such as Jaycees into the legislation cause the same rules apply there as well. Can’t trust Jaycees to decide for themselves either – I mean some of them became National MP’s and there’s that one in the US that was a serial killer.

    It’s a total waste of space.

  3. The first is Roger Douglas’ Youth Minimum Wage (Mitigation of Youth Unemployment) Amendment Bill, which would reintroduce the youth minimum wage, allowing employers to discriminate against 16 and 17 year olds on the basis of age.

    Employers are already able to lawfully discriminate against 16- and 17-year-olds on the basis of age. Indeed, this also extends to 18- and 19-year-olds. See section 30(2) of the Human Rights Act 1993.

  4. lukas 4

    “If I didn’t know better I’d swear these things were rigged.”

    I am honestly surprised that yourself or Zeteic did not suggest that to be the case.

    • Zetetic 4.1

      Zetetic. Not Zeteic. Old family name. please get it right.

      Ballot is conducted by clerk’s office. Names of bills literally pulled out of a hat (or is it a box?). So Eddie and I do know better than to think its rigged. Hell of a lot of serendipity around a lot of the time over which bills get pulled though.

  5. This is really unfair. If I had to nominate even more deranged right wing MPs I would struggle. I guess Garrett and Boscawen would be up there and there are some really strange National MPs but Douglas and Tau are almost in a class of their own.

  6. …a disgusting piece of ageist discrimination from this Sith septuageneraian that just wouldn’t be accepted if these workers were female or brown. Well, by most non-ACT voting, decent working people anyway.

    I’d like to thank Roger Douglas for this. Before he shuffles off this mortal coil, he will act as one of the greatest recruiting sergeants for the union movement we will ever have in Aotearoa….

  7. “Anyway, I’m still hanging out for that bill from the Right that’s going to lift wages and close the gap with Australia by 2025. I suspect we’ll be waiting for some time.”

    If you are talking about the GDP per capita gap then possibly this will. Anything that benefits the rich by more than it fucks the poor is going to raise the average, that Nice Mr Key huh?

  8. Sam 8

    Gosh, the right really have the hypocritical thing nailed, don’t they? Preaching individual freedoms and all that carry on, yet this is now the second bill that is attempting to interfere with people’s choice in the way the organisations that they belong to are run (VSM for those who haven’t been following).

    And Roger Douglas should fuck off back to the grave already – everyone knows he died in 1995 some time.

  9. Tim 9

    Did anyone notice the purpose of Roger Douglas’ bill on the Parliament website? “The purpose of this bill is to restore the capacity for the Governor-General to institute differing levels of minimum wages for youth and other workers in order to deal with the growing problem of youth umemployment.” Who might those “other workers” be? The title of the bill seems somewhat disingenuous.

    The idea behind the secret ballot bill is not to protect union members from overbearing officials, but to make it more difficult for unions to legally strike and to reduce their bargaining power in what is already a highly regulated environment for industrial action.

    There is no evidence that union members are being coerced into striking by union officials. Unions routinely hold secret ballots already. If you really don’t want to strike, you can always resign from the union. Non-union employees are already protected against discrimination or intimidation in the workplace.

    Employers will question secret ballots at every opportunity to attempt to obtain interim injunctions restraining strikes. An otherwise validly mandated strike might be restrained on some technicality giving the employer an unfair bargaining advantage. The recent BA cabin crew strike in the UK comes to mind. It was restrained by the High Court after employees who were taking voluntary redundancy were balloted (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/17/court-blocks-british-airways-strike), even though those members’ votes did not diminish the majority vote for a strike.

    I wonder whether shareholders should also have to vote each time an employer proposes a lockout?

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