Sometimes during union bargaining that has hit a wall, workers will vote to ‘work to rule’ – ie not do extras beyond the terms of you contract. It’s perfectly legal. In fact, it should be what we all do every day. Working beyond rule is gifting time and effort to the boss for no compensation. But National wants employers to be able to cut your pay for doing your job.
It’s part of a swathe of nasty changes that National is planning to introduce that will weaken our work rights, ultimately leading to lower wages (hey, Key did say he “would love to see wages drop”, remember):
The Government also wants employers to be able to deduct the wages of workers who undertake partial strikes
What’s a partial strike? “A partial strike is where work is not completely ceased or labour is not completely withdrawn, but where ‘go-slow’, ‘work to rule’, ‘overtime ban’ or other passive means are clearly manifested.”
Work to rule is what the name suggests. You work the terms of your contract. You don’t skip your lunch break, you don’t stay late, you don’t help in another team that’s short-staffed (unless it’s in your contract). You do the job you signed up to do.
And, for working to rule, National wants to allow bosses to cut your pay. What a fucken insult. You’re now being expected to do more than your contractual obligations, for free, and if you don’t your pay will be cut.
It’s hard to see how any such law would actually work – the unions would drag it through the courts, which would quickly apply basic contract law principles and say that when people have delivered their side of the contract (the agreed work), the other side must deliver theirs (the agreed pay).
But it’s the chilling effect. The risk for workers and expense for unions. That’s the real aim. To make it easier for bad bosses to beat down workers.
Work to rule can be a simple, moderate tool that reminds the bosses how much extra value their staff provide them out of sheer loyalty and that a little good feeling in return is warranted. National wants to kill that. It is aiding bad, militant bosses like Talley’s and PoAL.