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Workers demand decent work rights policies

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, August 28th, 2008 - 24 comments
Categories: activism, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

6000 workers turned out in Manukau yesterday for the EPMU’s Wages Drive rally. With 25 events nation-wide over this month, which have attracted crowds from several hundred in little old Blenhiem to thousands in each of the cities, this is the largest series of political rallies in New Zealand this parliamentary term.

The EPMU reports Manukau’sTelstraClear Pacific Stadium was full to overflowing. Members voted unanimously to endorse the Work Rights Checklist, which sets out provisions workers expect in a party’s work rights policy including:

• The right to organise as a union and to bargain collectively for decent pay and conditions, including at an industry level.
• Enforceable rules for bargaining which mean management can’t just refuse to negotiate or can’t bypass the union.
• Annual and real increases in the minimum wage.
• The right of workers employed through labour hire agencies who work alongside workers under a collective agreement to be paid the same rates for the same work.
• An active labour market policy with a goal of full employment.
• Protection against arbitrary and unfair dismissal and other unfair treatment
• Strong health and safety laws setting high standards and providing real protection for workers.
• A fair and efficient system of accident compensation for injury at work regardless of who you work for.
• Decent holidays, including at least four weeks annual leave.
• Minimum redundancy protections.
• Decent paid parental leave to give new parents and their babies a proper start.
• Government and employers investing in on-going learning around work.

So far, 14,000 union members have endorsed the checklist at the rallies. The final rally is today at North Harbour Stadium.

More photos at Scoop.

24 comments on “Workers demand decent work rights policies ”

  1. I’d like to add something to that list:

    The right to be involved in and stand for a political party of my choice without interference, suspension or attempted intimidation from my employer.

    Cheers. (& tables)

  2. MikeE 2

    Pity the EMPU don’t favor giving the same rights to their staff eh?

    Captcha: “Keen GAYLORD”

  3. Ha! You mean like the right to due process? Given the prick called his employer racist in the national media I think they’ve been very restrained.

    Oh and just as an aside what would a couple of libertarian retards like y’selves know (or care) about work rights? Dicks.

  4. Tan chose to participate in a political organisation (the EPMU) and a condtion of his employment was that he seek approval if he was to stand for a political party. It was not the political party he chose to stand for but that he (purposely, don’t think any of this happened by accident) chose not to seek that approval that resulted in his suspension on full pay.

    This was all planned as a publicity stunt for ACT and it’s worked well for themm.

    In the public service, if you stand as a candidate you must go on unpaid leave for the duration of your candidacy because of the conflcit of interst between political neutrality and standing for a party… the EPMU’s clause is similiar. It is a political organisation but it is seperate from the political parties and it needs to be able to trust its staff when developing poltiical sensitive policy etc … if one of them goes off and stands as a candidate for a party it creates a conflict of interest … the union needs to be able to control that conflict.

  5. That disgusting Rodney Hide ought to talk to those people in that picutre and tell them they’re racist.

  6. coge 6

    What a bloody joke. Nine years of Labour & the EMPU still are unsatisfied. Looks to me the EMPU are attempting to consolidate their power prior to a change in Govt. How pragmatic. Such pragmatism you may expect from individuals with political aspirations.

  7. coge. the union is 50,000 members – not one guy who might be an MP someday – and no they’re no satisfied with the improvements under Labour. Yes there have been improvements and it’s that history of improvements which will see the vast majroity of union members vote Labour again, but there is more to be done on work rights, just as there is on health, education etc etc… the unions set the agenda on work rights continuing to pull the political discourse towards better rights

    coge. if you consider 6000 working class kiwis taking time out from their work (its unpaid) to stand strong together and stand up for their rights a joke, then you’ve got a lot to learn about the real world.

  8. Mike Collins 8

    Steve,

    Good of you to note that the EPMU is a political organistation. This beats the standard line (no pun intended but apt nonetheless) that the EPMU is simply a vehicle for pushing industrial rights and that it is in no way involved in the affairs of the Labour party. Not quite an admission but you’re getting there. [Mike pushing for work rights is a political action, look up a definition of ‘politics’.SP]

    As for this charade of an apology that Tan is at fault for not seeking approval, the law states he has the right to stand. You can not contract out of that, and to put conditions or barriers on the right to stand is in breach of the HRA. Exemptions only exist for those engaged in certain types of political involvement. Now unless you are prepared to state that as a body of the Labour party the exemptions extend to the EPMU…..

    [Tan’s contractual obligations in no way derogate from his right to stand. He had to seek their approval to stand while in active employment with the EPMU, if it wasn’t granted he could have stood anyway but they would have chosen to suspend his employment for the duration of his candidacy because of the conflict of interest involved. SP]

  9. Zarchoff 9

    So unions can have clauses in their employment contracts that directly contradict (and breach) the Bill of Rights and that’s OK? But it’s not OK if your another political organisation like, say, the Business Roundtable?

    Is that what you are saying?

  10. Mike Collins 10

    SP – No you’re wrong. Little’s own comments seem to state that he would not have been given approval. It also is correct to note that of two other cases this year where EPMU employees sought to stand for office only one was given “permission”.

    One must also factor in the fact that Tan advised his immediate manager of his intentions and was told he expected him to resign.

    It is clear that the clause in the contract is a barrier to people standing. It clearly is designed to force someone to seek approval for an activity which they by law do not have to seek approval for. The very existance of this clause would be enough for some people to consider not standing (if of course they are planning to stand for the “wrong” party).

    You may find it a conflict of interest but the rules regarding exemptions don’t extend to unions.

  11. Ah Robinsod, (redbaiters left wing twin brother) I see your still heavy on the personal abuse but light on actual ability to argue a point. Being so angry all the time must be exhausting. Still the fires of hate burn eternal as they say. Banned from Kiwiblog, censored at Chris Trotters blog dear me , you poor boy.

    Steve: In relation to Mr Tan I think there is still time for the EPMU to take up Trotters suggested option:

    “..I would have congratulated Mr Tan on his decision to participate so actively in the democratic process; raised with him the potential difficulties involved in working for a Labour-affiliated trade union while campaigning actively for ACT; offered him leave on full pay up until the announcement of the election date; and invited him to take his annual leave during the campaign proper.’

    I think that’s what any reasonable, decent employer would do instead of resorting to employer bullying and threats.

  12. Daveo 12

    Richard Hurst: You’ve given no evidence to back your claims of bullying and intimidation. In fact you’ve given no evidence you know anything more than what Rodney Hide and Shawn Tan have claimed in the media. You also know that because this is an employment dispute currently in mediation the EPMU can’t provide the full facts of the case so you’re working on incomplete and biased information.

    All we do know is the EPMU has not disciplined Shawn Tan, they’ve stood him down on full pay while they investigate the breach of his employment agreement, which all sounds pretty fair and in line with due process to me.

    The irony is Shawn Tan seems to be doing the best he can to get himself fired for publicity’s sake. Makes you wonder if that was his plan all along.

  13. Julie 13

    And yet another post that isn’t about Shawn Tan gets derailed by commenters who seem to be obsessed with the matter. Can’t those who want to rant about Tan (either way) keep it to the relevant thread so that those of us who aren’t interested can talk about the subject matter of the post at hand? (Not having a go at you lprent, this must be v frustrating)

    Just a minor note of correction to SP’s post – the final rally at Harbour Stadium is actually tomorrow (Friday) at 1pm. Hopefully see some of you there! I’m really looking forward to feeling the positive energy of a big group of workers standing together for something they believe in, rather than sitting on their arses alone typing away at a keyboard because they think someone on the internet is wrong.

  14. 6000 people???? Yeepers, have you guys even watch the Count on sesame street?

    Workers should have the right to have an individual contract if they want to, without some jackass calling them a scab. It’s not fair that some worker can get the same wage as someone else who works harder.

  15. Matthew Pilott 15

    It’s not fair that freeloaders can get union-negotiated benefits without paying a fair due, but you don’t see us all having a cry about it.

    How often does someone on an individual contract get called a scab anyway? Have you ever seen a union member? It sure don’t look likely from the knowledge expressed in that comment.

    If that someone who can work harder chooses to go on an individual contract and can demonstrate they are a more valuable employee, and they are in a good industry, and are lucky enough to have a good employer, they might be paid a bit more. Honestly, what are you moaning about?!

  16. Dean 16

    MP:

    “If that someone who can work harder chooses to go on an individual contract and can demonstrate they are a more valuable employee, and they are in a good industry, and are lucky enough to have a good employer, they might be paid a bit more. Honestly, what are you moaning about?!”

    Judging by your comment here, how odten have you ever seen a private sector or non union employee?

    Sure doesn’t look likely from the ignorance you’ve expressed, Matthew.

    “It’s not fair that freeloaders can get union-negotiated benefits without paying a fair due, but you don’t see us all having a cry about it.”

    A “fair due”? Oh please.

  17. Matthew Pilott 17

    Judging by your comment here, how often have you ever seen a private sector or non union employee?

    You might be surprised. Are you able to actually critique the comment, a sarcastic comment doesn’t really add anything. Try and make a counter argument, if you can, and then I can have a shot at rebutting it. Much more fun that way.

    A “fair due’? Oh please.

    “Oh please”? Umm, I guess I can’t argue with that. Save youself the effort and just grunt next time.

  18. It’s great to see hard working New Zealanders getting out addressing the issues that touch their life’s so significantly. We all know that the livelihoods of the average hard working kiwi will be compromised if the National Party gets into power.

  19. Davo,
    Are you calling Mr Tan a lair? Are you saying he outright lied when said the EPMU tried to get him to resign before they stood him down?
    By the way how is being stood down from your job, and your employer bad mouthing you in the media before an investigation which you have been put under has even begun, not being disciplined? Any worker in such circumstances would hardly consider that being treated well or fairly. I still think the EPMU could adopt the Trotter solution and thus defuse the situation unfortunately I suspect its gotten personal for Andrew Little and his ego.

    Finally: I think a vital point has been missed: A person who has spent a lot of his life involved with and working in the broad Left wing movement has seen the light (not in a religious sense!) and realized his error. Its got to be a good thing. I’m sure all will be welcome, including those who post here when they also inevitably reach this stage. 😉

  20. Anita 21

    Richard Hurt,

    Are you saying he outright lied when said the EPMU tried to get him to resign before they stood him down?

    I don’t remember seeing Tan saying that, but I might have missed it. Do you have a reference?

  21. Yes, here is a ref: http://www.3news.co.nz/ActcandidatesuspendedfromUnionJob/tabid/419/articleID/68171/Default.aspx?ArticleID=68171

    Here’s a bit from it:

    “Mr Tan told the National Business Review that when he first outlined his plan in July to stand as a candidate in Mt Roskill, he was told by the union’s director of organising Bill Newson that if he wanted to do so he expected him to resign.’

    Andrew Little directly calls Mr Tan a liar in the report and claims he has email evidence. Fortunately for Mr Little current negotiations with Mr Tan excuse him from revealing his ‘evidence’.

  22. toad 23

    Don’t want to get into tit-for-tat, but I do think the Greens have the better Industrial Relations policy.

    Multi-employer industry agreements, minimum wage,restrictions precluding freeloading,minimum redundancy protections. All in Green policy, but lacking from Labour’s, at least yet.

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