Hide on unions and Labour

July 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar


The true donations scandal in New Zealand politics was reported this week without comment. It’s the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union’s $60,000 donation to .

The EPMU is one of the six affiliated to Labour. The affiliated pay fees and fund the Party through donations. The donations and fees total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More significantly, union staff campaign for Labour and the unions run parallel campaigns. For example, Labour is campaigning for the “living wage”. In a parallel campaign the Services and Food Workers Union spent more than half a million dollars last year promoting that exact policy.

It would be interesting to add up the total amount spent by unions on political campaigns. It would be well into the millions.

The union funding of Labour totals in the millions. And what does Labour provide in return? In effect the entire party. The unions get to determine the party’s leader. Their say counts for 20 per cent of the vote. That’s the difference between winning and losing by a wide margin.

Affiliation also buys a seat at the table. The affiliated unions have a guaranteed vice-president position on Labour’s all-powerful New Zealand Council.

They also get their people as MPs. The Labour Party enables the unions to parachute members into Parliament. Labour list MP Andrew Little headed the EPMU for 11 years before entering Parliament.

Imagine the outcry if business lobby groups got to vote on the leadership of the national party, could bus people in to their selection meetings, got a vice-president of the party and get a vote on the list ranking.

And the unions get policy, lots of policy. In 1999 the EPMU gave $100,000 to Labour. The following year the Labour Government passed the Employment Relations Act. This act gives the unions incredible power over Kiwi workplaces as well as easy access to workers’ pay packets.

The Employment Relations Act nicely closes the loop. The act was provided by the Labour Party. It gave the unions access to workers’ pockets, and that’s the money the unions now tip into Labour’s coffers.

Indeed, in the state sector it’s policy for Government to give union members a bonus to cover their union fees. You and I pay their union fees.

This is sadly true. Taxpayers bribe people to join the union.

Unions and Labour are guilty of “cash for policy”, “cash to sit at the table”, “cash to decide the leader” and “cash to parachute members into Parliament”.

The rort serves to bolster Labour and entrench the power of union bosses.

Unions are highly politicised organisations that only exist now because of the legal privileges bestowed by Labour governments.

The rorting of our democracy by the unions and Labour would make a great expose.

But don’t expect anything soon: it’s the EPMU that represents journalists in this country.

That’s right, our journalists – through their union – help fund the Labour Party.

To be fair the journalist fees don’t get paid directly to Labour. But they help fund the EPMU overall, which allows them to campaign more for Labour.

13 Responses to “Hide on unions and Labour”

  1. tvb (5,515 comments) says:

    The Unions want the powers privileges and immunities of the medieval church. Indeed the position of the Unions in the Labour Party is just as corrupt as the church was in tudor England. Anyone reading history will be see the similarities.

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  2. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    Also in this article is the comment-

    “Being a union boss come Labour’s list selection time isn’t as good as being a Maori lesbian but it’s a close second.”

    Bit close to home for the National Party considering who they chose to replace Aaron Gilmore.

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  3. simpleton1 (593 comments) says:

    When I was younger and innocent, I could see a point of the union, setting conditions of work, and standards such as toilets showers etc, that directly related to work, and some or these things did need sorting out.

    Within the year of work, I could see through the politicization of what they were doing, that actually not only cost me as per union dues, but also lost time to strikes that were just called, to stick it to the employer. I soon also quickly realized that the most oppressive people were the so called union delegates and higher ups, with their verbal and physical threats, that was said to be “just joking”. A real subversive pressure to tow the union line, and not to ask questions or make any fuss in between their inane comments to “man up” and be part of the union thinking.

    They never had any real intention to look after the ordinary member, unless they were part of their oligarchy, or to add to their power base by owning you outright.
    For example I was guaranteed a “green card” to the USA if I worked for the “long shore men’s union”. It was a union man who could swing things my way. Why were they wanting me (a NZer) to stay in the USA, and so possibly undercutting their own members there.

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  4. m@tt (804 comments) says:

    It’s clearly an unfair advantage to Labour and is the main reason they continue to soar in the polls.

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  5. Danyl Mclauchlan (985 comments) says:

    Next week: Hide busts open the secret link between churches and organised religion.

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  6. Ashley Schaeffer (798 comments) says:

    Indeed, in the state sector it’s policy for Government to give union members a bonus to cover their union fees. You and I pay their union fees.

    I’d be interested to learn more about this. Where could I find information pertaining to this?

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  7. Komata (1,768 comments) says:

    Evidently someone must have been away from the Herald when this was published as I am actually very surprised that this article was even allowed to see the light of day. Normally, it would be more normal for it to have ‘suffered an accident’, and vanished.

    Based-upon previous actions, and because of the influence wielded within the MSM by the union/s, who are not exactly able to take the sort of criticism they quite happily dispense, I am now waiting for the MSM to initiate an attack on Rodney Hide; Corporal Jones’ comment comes to mind…

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  8. Grizz (706 comments) says:

    Unions can fund the Labour party as much as they so desire in my opinion. The issue for me is transparency. If I were a union member, there needs to be transparency as to where my union membership fees get spent. I should also have the option to opt out, ie a discount, of political activities. Sure, unions can conduct a whip around to fund political activity, but members should be able to opt in or out without prejudice. Also salaried union employees involved in political activities should also be decleared as part of party political funding.

    As for party policy, no problem with unions getting involved, again, it just needs to be transparent. People have the democratic right to elect a union run government, they just need to be appropriately informed first. The same needs to occur for parties of other political persuasions. For instance, Federated Farmer involvement in Nationals agriculture and trade policy, or Greenpeace in Green party policy.

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  9. David Garrett (10,985 comments) says:

    Red: I hate to break this to you, but Rodney was leader of ACT…it was the other one who was once leader of the Nats also…

    Komata: So is Rodney!!

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  10. WineOh (1,058 comments) says:

    How many paying members does EPMU have, and therefore what dollar contribution does this mean per member & how much as a portion of total EPMU annual revenue?

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  11. Komata (1,768 comments) says:


    I could be wrong, but I don’t think you will find out: – ever!! Certain ‘Restricted information’ is not available to the ‘common herd’ and to ask such questions is not encouraged. It frequently becomes somewhat ‘interesting’ if one ignores the standard replies that are trotted out to cover a lack of knowledge, and persists in asking…

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  12. ex-golfer (342 comments) says:

    @ Ashley 1.45pm

    It is true.
    Members of the PSA receive an annual lump sum payment as part of their collective agreement.
    Non-PSA members do not get this “bonus”.
    It is strangely always calculated to approximately match the amount a PSA member would pay in fees each year.
    So yes, the tax-payer funds much union activity in the Public Service.

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  13. Warren Murray (400 comments) says:

    “And the unions get policy, lots of policy.”

    If the unions get to buy policy that keeps labour in opposition, sounds like a pretty sweet deal for everyone.

    I agree with Grizz, nothing really wrong with this if it is transparent. Let’s be honest, the left will always struggle to find enough money compared to the right.

    The Unions have another problem, that is with there being so many left of centre parties, they have to give more money than ever before.

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