Who voted against secret strike ballots?

May 10th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Parliament has passed a law requiring to hold a secret ballot to vote on strike action. This is highly desirable, as no employee should be heavied or threatened with consequences based on how they vote – which can happen, if it is a show of hands.

Now most unions do operate secret ballots. But, not all. And making it a requirement rather than an option, seems basic common sense. Unions get a number of special powers under our law, so a basic requirement around secret ballots of members is hardly onerous.

Yet Labour, Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party and Mana all voted against requiring unions to hold secret ballots. I can understand them saying the bill is not a priority. But to actually vote against it can only be interpreted as saying they support unions not having to hold secret ballots when voting on strike action.

And yes I would have no problems requiring any company that votes for a lock out to have their board (if they have one) vote by secret ballot on it.

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52 Responses to “Who voted against secret strike ballots?”

  1. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Imagine the surprise if the next MUNZ vote falls over and the union no longer has the mandate to call a strike …. shame on the people who voted against this. Self serving is nowhere near strong enough.

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  2. peteremcc (341 comments) says:

    Unions should be allowed to do whatever they want.

    National should be removing their special legal privileges instead.

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  3. Daigotsu (445 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t the equivalent of a company during a lockout be getting all its shareholders to agree to a lockout, not it sboard…?

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  4. nasska (9,501 comments) says:

    It’s not hard to see where the opposition to this overdue legislation is coming from. The Meatworkers, Watersiders & Drivers Unions of the Twentieth Century relied upon bullying & physical violence to keep their members in line. Without the opportunity to identify backsliders union officials are going to have to sell the need for strike action rather than dictate when & if it’s taken.

    All praise to the Government for pushing this legislation through. The Labour Party & their union stooges will be gutted!

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  5. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    A truly historic legislative moment. It will rank right up there with voluntary student union membership as one of the Key government’s greatest achievements.

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  6. nasska (9,501 comments) says:

    mikenmild

    In time, it will probably be referred to as the Bully & Standover Merchant Enforced Redundancy Law.

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  7. CommonSense404 (1 comment) says:

    Surprised to see Winston First & Maori party oppose this?

    @Daigotsu – no, the Directors are empowered to act on behalf of the shareholders and the Directors vest that power in the company management. To flip it around, the equivalent would be for the union membership to grant the union executive the power to make decisions on their behalf

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  8. nzclassicalliberal (34 comments) says:

    petermcc:

    [i]Unions should be allowed to do whatever they want.

    National should be removing their special legal privileges instead.[/i]

    Exactly.

    Assuming we’re stuck with legal privileges, however, this is good legislation.

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  9. Rick Rowling (776 comments) says:

    Mike – well it will make a meaningful difference to thousands of New Zealanders, so yes, it’s a fairly important bill.

    Or do you not think that freedom to vote however you want without intimidation is worth standing up for?

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  10. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Rick – it’s a sideshow, like cracking down on (imaginary) illegal immigrants or offering beneficiaries free contraception.

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  11. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    Fairly obvious – gangs work by intimidation…?

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  12. Keeping Stock (9,788 comments) says:

    Ah yes mikenmild; the Voluntary Student Membership legislation. That’d be the one that Labour so vehemently opposed that it screwed up the whole Members’ Bill process last year with petulant posturing on a Bill that had the support of every member of the House. Thank you for the gilt-edged opportunity to remind DPF’s readers of the contempt that Labour showed for the institution of Parliament last year, just to try and keep for students a career path from university actvism to Parliament.

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  13. nzclassicalliberal (34 comments) says:

    @mikenmild,

    I think the sideshow accusation is a bit of a cop out.

    Lots of legislation gets passed during a parliamentary term and not all of it is of earth shattering importance. The question is, ‘is it good policy?’. Labelling it a sideshow is just a lazy way of criticising policy when there are no substantive reasons to oppose it.

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  14. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    I mean only to point out that the government is pretty much sitting on its hands doing nothing.

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  15. nzclassicalliberal (34 comments) says:

    It’s selling assets. It’s also implementing one of the more interesting attempts in recent memory to have performance targets for the government as a whole, which is a worthy experiment.

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  16. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Excuse me while I snort – performance targets for the government? That’s about as significant as the ‘aspirational’ goal of catching up with Australia. It’s a do-nothing government.

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  17. Nookin (2,887 comments) says:

    “I mean only to point out that the government is pretty much sitting on its hands doing nothing.”

    Local Government Reform;
    Welfare Reform;
    Creating employment with the casino;
    Attracting Australian companies to New Zealand;
    Charter schools;
    Asset sales;
    Christchurch recovery;
    Roading;
    etc etc

    All of the above either save money or create jobs or create investment opportunities and all of the above are opposed.

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  18. pete (428 comments) says:

    Yet Labour, Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party and Mana all voted against requiring unions to hold secret ballots. I can understand them saying the bill is not a priority. But to actually vote against it can only be interpreted as saying they support unions not having to hold secret ballots when voting on strike action.

    Are you just being lazy and didn’t bother to find out why they voted against; or do you know why they voted against but decided to ignore it because it doesn’t fit your spin?

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  19. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Who is opposing the Christchurch recovery?
    How are we attracting companies to NZ, other than by low wages?
    How successful is local government reform?
    How many jobs have been created at the casino?
    How many charter schools will there be?
    If selling the assets is so good, why doesn’t the government sell all its commercial holdings?
    What is the most significant part of thw welfare reforms and how much money will it save?
    How much money is the government ‘investing’ in roading projects that have a negative BCR?

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  20. Liberal Minded Kiwi (1,560 comments) says:

    Pete, I’ll answer that. They opposed it because those parties are made up of former trade unionist and as a result of such, money donated to them and free man hours for them is provided to these parties in exchange for supporting trade union “interests”.

    But you know this already.

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  21. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Or you could just read what Labour said in opposing the bill:
    ‘Workers do have freedom of choice. They have freedom to join a union or not join a union. They have freedom to strike or not strike. They are not coerced. They are not marched out the door with their arms behind their backs and made to strike. They do have freedom.
    They do have democracy, even though the member is trying to insert democracy into unions. It already exists. Most unions already have secret ballots. If he had bothered to read a few unions’ rules, he would see that most unions already have provisions that allow members to call for a secret ballot, and they do.’

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  22. pete (428 comments) says:

    The bill would “impose … a cumbersome and expensive compliance mechanism [for] no good reason”.

    If the government did that to any other group, you’d all be bleating about it, DPF especially.

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  23. nasska (9,501 comments) says:

    Mikenmild

    Sorry, I’m calling crap on that.

    1) …”They are not coerced. They are not marched out the door with their arms behind their backs and made to strike.”…. Obviously you have enjoyed a sheltered life. The local Meatworkers & Drivers Unions had goons that would take anybody who voted against the union organisers’ proposals out the back & kick the shit out of them. What use a vote if you get half killed for using it?

    Democracy my arse!

    2) If these semi feral organisations have rules allowing for secret ballots then why the die in the ditch opposition to an Act of Parliament which prescribes those self same principles?

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  24. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Possibly the opposition is simply to an unnecessary law, which is probably unenforceable anyway.

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  25. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    @MM

    simple question is it preferable to have secret ballots or not – in your opinion?

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  26. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Yes.
    Should that be enforced by the government?

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  27. big bruv (12,349 comments) says:

    Yes MM, what the hell is wrong with democracy?

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  28. Viking2 (10,712 comments) says:

    Nookin (1,813) Says:
    May 10th, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    “I mean only to point out that the government is pretty much sitting on its hands doing nothing.”

    Local Government Reform;
    Welfare Reform;
    Creating employment with the casino;
    Attracting Australian companies to New Zealand;
    Charter schools;
    Asset sales;
    Christchurch recovery;
    Roading;
    etc etc

    All of the above either save money or create jobs or create investment opportunities and all of the above are opposed.

    Nookin, is that the best we are going to get? Airnz increases the number of seats to Perth. Fastest growing sector. Unemployment increasing and I predict about to get way worse. The last few weeks companies have been shrinking quickly again. No work. Even Fletchers have stated that there is no work looking ahead.
    Christchurch will be a fuckup.
    The Aussies were either here or came because of the cost of doing business there. Minor numbers. We still have barriers everwhere to doing business and employing people. Not the least youth rates. I invite anyone to stroll down any industrial streets and look and see how many empty properties and find out how many businesses are busy.
    It just ain’t there.

    Manufacturing taking a tumble again. Figures out today. Exports dropping.
    Fonterra forever fighting the pricks its forced to supply milk to. Why. Why hould Fonterra’s property rights be usurped by the Govt. and its competitors?

    We have a tough time ahead. Don’t doubt it.

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  29. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    V2 is on to it. Where is the plan, from any politician, to make progress?

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  30. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    @MM

    “Should that be enforced by the government?”

    yes – when union rights are enforced by government and there is a risk of pressure (not dissimilar to that frequently attributed to employers by unions) being employed on dissenters to union officials who wield significant authority.

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  31. Johnboy (13,386 comments) says:

    Liverpool boat hasn’t sailed then?

    That’s a pity! :)

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  32. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    V2:

    We still have barriers everwhere to doing business and employing people. Not the least youth rates.

    MM:

    V2 is on to it.

    @mikey – are you advocating the reintroduction of youth rates?

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  33. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    So there’s a ‘risk of pressure’. Sounds a bit like ‘there’s a risk of catching HIV in the kindy playground’. Should the government legislate against all ‘risks’?

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  34. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    bhudson
    No, I was referring to the government’s lack of any real plan. Re youth rates, I am opposed to age discrimination.

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  35. bhudson (4,720 comments) says:

    @mikey,

    I am opposed to age discrimination.

    What about [wage] discrimination based on experience?

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  36. Psycho Milt (1,975 comments) says:

    I look forward to the next Labour govt passing legislation requiring a secret ballot of shareholders before a lockout.

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  37. andretti (124 comments) says:

    Worked as an engineer at Kinlieth in 80-84 we had several strikes all votes were just a show of hands.i remember one fellow asking for a secret vote and he was decried.i always voted no and while I had respect (I think)all the hard core unionists just left me alone.I was only 22ish back themn but quickly formed the opinon that they were mostly cowards.

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  38. B A W (82 comments) says:

    Great idea, one big problem, why was this left out of the employment contracts act in the 1990′s this practice should have gone out of fashion years ago.

    Thatcher made secret ballots vital for her employment reform of British Unions.

    I recall seeing the Port’s Union vote on TV and it is clear to see that the vote was not fair.

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  39. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Does anyone know whether open voting is common in NZ workplaces? Is this law designed to address a real problem, or an imagined one?

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  40. wat dabney (3,445 comments) says:

    Let’s assume it’s designed to address an imaginary one.

    No harm done, and point made, eh?

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  41. mikenmild (8,787 comments) says:

    Yeah no harm done. Now let’s get on with laws to deal with the imaginary flood of illegal immigrants.

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  42. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,668 comments) says:

    It remains to be seen how the unions will subvert the process and ‘declare’ a vote for a strike.

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  43. Psycho Milt (1,975 comments) says:

    Let’s assume it’s designed to address an imaginary one.

    Fuck yes! How will everyone know how wealthy we are if we don’t spend millions on a govt to address imaginary problems?

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  44. Pete George (21,806 comments) says:

    Some union associated comment:

    Descendant Of Smith …
    10 May 2012 at 8:26 pm

    In all the unions I was involved in only one person had to ask for a secret ballot and it was held.

    As a union delegate we were always prepared beforehand with ballot papers in case someone requested this.

    In my experience the closer the vote was likely to be the greater the likelihood of someone asking for a secret ballot.

    On average I would say about 70% of the time secret ballots were asked for.

    Not once, and still today, I have ever seen anyone criticised for asking for a secret ballot or asked why they did this. All union members understood it was any members right and no one else’s business why they might want one.

    Union members understand democracy much much better than this government ever did.

    Also note that when these members are on strike they are being supported financially by other union members as much as they can can be within the constraints of funding and resource.

    It’s a united effort and all do share the pain.

    No industrial action is taken without members voting on it and having a majority vote yes.
    No contract changes or pay increase are accepted without the members voting yes.
    No union delegates are elected without members nominating and then voting for them.

    The members make these decisions.

    Also worth noting that motions and voting follow and conform to standard democratic procedures.

    All motions are positive, voting results are by a simple majority, constitutional changes are by a 75% vote or thereabouts.

    Funnily enough exactly how councils and parliament are supposed to work.

    This answers questions asked.

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  45. nasska (9,501 comments) says:

    PG

    …”This answers questions asked.”…..

    I can’t make up my mind whether you are being serious or just having a bit of fun.

    Reassure me…tell me you’re just having us on!

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  46. DJP6-25 (1,229 comments) says:

    Congratulations are due. This is a good way to help de fund, and dis empower the left.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  47. Psycho Milt (1,975 comments) says:

    Union members understand democracy much much better than this government ever did.

    And the last one, and the one before that, and…

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  48. Psycho Milt (1,975 comments) says:

    This is a good way to help de fund, and dis empower the left.

    Er, no it won’t. But thanks very much for offering an insight into the motivation of the MPs who voted in favour.

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  49. Johnboy (13,386 comments) says:

    Nice to see you are even-handed PM. Even if both your arms are on your lefthand side! :)

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  50. wat dabney (3,445 comments) says:

    Labour, Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party and Mana all voted against requiring unions to hold secret ballots

    They are all interested in state power over the workers.

    They should all be strung up from lamposts.

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  51. markra (200 comments) says:

    twat dabney

    go to bed

    you are not old enough to comment on these forums

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  52. wat dabney (3,445 comments) says:

    sweet dreams markra,

    throbbing gristle in your case.

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