The old adage of strength in numbers is the main driver behind the proposed merger between two of New Zealand’s larger unions.
In July, the potential combination of the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) with the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) will be put to the vote at a national conference and if it gets the thumbs up there, the memberships of both groups will then get to have their say.
These are the two largest unions of Labour’s six affiliated unions. Individually they have 42% and 25% of the affiliate vote. If they combine they will have 66% of the affiliate vote. It means the combined union will effectively select their own vice-president of the party, have reps on the list moderating committee, be far more dominant at selection meetings and this one entity would control 13% of the leadership electoral college.
In other words the Labour Party would not be far removed from being a subsidiary of the new combined union. In a leadership ballot the vote of each delegate would be worth almost 50 times as much as an ordinary member.