West Coast miners furious at EPMU for donating to the Greens

July 19th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Greymouth evening Star reports that West Coast miners who are EPMU members are furious at the EPMU for donating $15,000 to the Greens, when they want the mining industry in NZ to die out. Over a dozen miners have complained.

You can imagine how galling it would be to have your union donate a portion of your salary to a party that wants to close down the industry you work in, and effectively put you out of a job.

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EPMU pays up

July 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union has donated $60,000 to the Labour Party and $15,000 to the Green Party, the union announced this morning.

This is no surprise. They get to vote on the Labour Party Leader, so of course they’ll donate to Labour. Interesting they donate also to the Greens.

Of course this is the small part of their actual effective donation. The most valuable donation they make is staff time. Pretty much all their staff can take as much paid time as they want to campaign for Labour (or Greens or Mana). This adds up to a huge contribution.

Let’s say 70 staff spend half their working week for three months campaigning for Labour. Assume they are paying above the living wage and get $30 an hour. 260 hours is $7,800 per staffer and that is around $550,000 of donated wages. However it doesn’t have to be declared as a donation as it is up to each staffer if they campaign for Labour or not. They just have an employer who will give them as much paid time off as they want to do so.

Personally I think when unions bulk supply staff to campaign for a political party, it should count as both an expense and a donation. There is a difference between someone individually volunteering to campaign for a party in their spare time, and someone being effectively paid by a union to go off and campaign for a party.

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The Knuckleheads vs Politicians debate

April 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

On Thursday May 9th, the annual EPMU media freedom debate will be held in the Backbencher. These debates are to raise money for the Media Safety and Solidarity Fund which provides support to journalists and other media workers under threat in the Asia-Pacific region. Just a month ago three Pakistani journalists were murdered in a single day.

The previous debates have been hilarious. with only vague references to the topic, they are a cross between a roast and a debate.

The moot is “That you can trust a blogger, a lobbyist and a journalist, but not a politician.”

Patrick Gower is chairing the debate, and it is safe to predict there will be as many insults and jokes at his expense, as there will be at the participants.

The knuckleheads team is:

  • Myself
  • Chris Bishop, lobbyist for Philip Morris
  • Andrea Vance, Dominion Post

The politicians team is:

  • Annette King
  • Tau Henare
  • Grant Robertson

If you want a great nights entertainment, then order tickets from Brent Edwards at brent.edwards@radionz.co.nz or 04 817 9564. Tickets are $25 each and turn up  after 5 pm for dinner and drinks with the debate starting at 7.30 pm.

The tickets often sell out fast, and the venue gets packed to the brim so I recommend getting in quick.

I’m looking forward to a fun night for a good cause.

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One good stunt deserves another

October 12th, 2012 at 2:05 pm by David Farrar

Today’s “jobs” conference organised by Labour Party affiliate member EPMU was of course a media stunt. I did however expect they would have pre-arranged something of substance to merge from it, but instead it is just another stunt – an inquiry by Labour, Greens and NZ First into the manufacturing sector. This inquiry will of course shock horror conclude that their policies to increase prices and inflation are what NZ needs.

I’m glad Labour, Greens and NZ First are all working together to support a policy of printing more money.

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McCarten on Labour’s changes

July 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Matt McCarten writes in the HoS:

On the day this review came out I dropped into the conference of Andrew Little’s old union, the EPMU. I went to listen to the Greens’ Russel Norman and the new Labour leader.

I must have spoken to close to 30 Labour-aligned activists. They all enthusiastically supported the review’s recommendations.

I’m sure they were. The EPMU is Labour’s largest union. The proposed constitutional changes will give the EPMU a massive say in who future leaders will be, and will entrench their power. I am sure the EPMU activists were delirious with delight at the changes.

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EPMU Press Freedom Debate

April 21st, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The annual EPMU Press Freedom Debate will be held on Thursday at Wellington’s Backbencher Pub. MPs Winston Peters, Simon Bridges, Annette King and Lianne Dalziel, comedian Pinky Agnew and journalist Patrick Gower will debate whether politicians should be hacked off with hacking journalists. Proceeds go to the Media Solidarity and Safety Fund. Last year, former Labour MP Darren Hughes was in fine form during the debate on whether politics was a dirty business. Soon after he quit amid claims he took a student home after a night out drinking.

Last year’s one was hilarious. Well worth attending.

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EPMU wants taxpayer funding

February 15th, 2011 at 2:07 pm by David Farrar

The EPMU has done a release saying:

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), which is the union that represents miners, is calling on the government to provide support for its legal representation in the Pike River Royal Commission of Inquiry.

The call follows the government’s announcement it will now fund families’ and contractors’ legal representation costs to allow them to participate in the inquiry.

The EPMU has around $13 million of assets and a turnover of around $12 million a year. They are in a totally different situation to individual famuilies and contractors. A legal bill of say $100,000 is a mere 1% of the EPMU’s annual turnover, yet would bankrupt many contractors and be well beyond what a West Coast family could afford.

Incidentially the EPMU has skilled in house lawyers such as their national secretary. If he wasn’t so busy running the Labour Party and running for Parliament, perhaps he could represent the EPMU at the Royal Commission hearings as part of his job.

It is of course up to the EPMU how they decide to interact with the Royal Commission, but if they start to ask for taxpayer funding, them we get the right to have a view on that.

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The Labour Civil War goes public

December 13th, 2010 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins and Kate Chapman at Stuff report:

A public spat has erupted between Labour Party head Andrew Little and MP George Hawkins after a replacement candidate was selected to represent the party in Hawkins’ Manurewa electorate last night.

Hawkins said this morning he was “very happy with the selection”.

“It wasn’t someone forced on the electorate by the engineers union who turn up once every 20 years to have a say, so we’re very pleased.”

This is what annoys a lot of rank and file members. They can spend years paying a sub and working hard for the party, and they get the same vote for selection ass a union affiliate member who gets bussed in to vote the way his union has told him to, and otherwise has no interest in Labour.

Little replied saying Hawkins was a lightweight within the party and had been on the sidelines for a long time.

Hawkins comments were unhelpful but not surprising from an MP who believed he had an entitlement to remain in the Manurewa electorate, Little said.

“The key objective was to remove George Hawkins and we achieved that objective.”

Is this Andrew speaking as EPMU National Secretary or Labour Party President? If I was a Labour MP I’d be very worried that the party president openly boasts of taking an MP out.

Hawkins said he had not discussed the selection with Little, who had not spoken to him for two years.

My God. They can’t even pretend to tolerate each other.

He dismissed suggestions, meanwhile, that concerns over his health might be another reason for him to quit Parliament early after winning a place on the Manurewa community board.

“Since I’ve had the stroke, I’ve had deep vein thrombosis, I’m diabetic and I’ve had bowel cancer. None of that’s going to stop me and the engineers aren’t going to stop me.”

George the battler.

Asked why he was opposed to the union Hawkins responded: “If you want to take part in the Labour party you should turn up each month, go to the meetings, have your say. If they did that I would have been happy to support them but that’s not happened.”

The point I made earlier.

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More turmoil in Labour

December 9th, 2010 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reports:

Turmoil is continuing within the Labour Party as it heads toward Sunday’s contentious candidate selection in Manurewa with current MP George Hawkins threatening to resign and force a byelection if the party selects a candidate he dislikes.

The party will select its new candidate to replace the retiring George Hawkins on Sunday and Mr Hawkins is understood to have told Labour leader Phil Goff he would force a byelection or publicly criticise the party if candidate Jerome Mika was selected.

George should not rule out both!

While the EPMU supports Mr Mika, the Service Workers Union, the Maritime Union and Amalgamated Workers Union support Louisa Wall. If the two sides can not agree on either candidate, they could choose a third person as a compromise rather than take a majority vote.

This is Labour Party democracy in action.

The three unions are also supporting List MP Phil Twyford in Te Atatu, which will have its selection a week later. Mr Twyford’s chances could be hurt if Mr Mika is selected for Manurewa because of calls for more female candidates in Auckland.

I suspect it will be fourth time lucky.

Things must be quite fragile in Labour at the moment, as Phil Goff has yet to announce the further rejuvenation reshuffle that was expected. When he did reshuffle due to perks abuse, the Herald reported:

Labour leader Phil Goff said there would be further changes ahead of next year’s general election.

You generally avoid reshuffles in election year. I wonder if Goff has backed off a reshuffle, as he can’t afford to upset any of his caucus at the moment?

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EPMU v Pike River Coal

December 3rd, 2010 at 3:47 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

The miners’ union says Pike River Coal is insisting that its lawyers sit in on official police and Department of Labour investigation interviews into the mine tragedy which claimed 29 lives.

The union said that was potentially “contaminating” the process.

However, Pike River said today it was only making employees – many of whom had no prior contact with the police – aware of their legal rights.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, which represents miners, said today the company’s stance was causing major conflict.

“Management is insisting on the right of company lawyers to sit in on interviews. Their lawyers are sitting in on interviews with the Department of Labour and police,” general secretary Andrew Little said.

However, Pike River Coal chairman John Dow said it was up to individual employees whether lawyers sat in on the interviews.

The company was only trying to ensure its staff got the appropriate advice on their rights, and how the process worked.

“We are trying to find out what happened, our only interest is getting to the bottom of it – what caused the explosion and making sure it won’t happen again.

“We’ve said to our employees that if they are not happy having lawyers in the room, that’s fine.”

So the EPMU is arguing that the employees should have no choice in whether or not a lawyer is present for their interviews.

A Department of Labour (DOL) spokesman said it was the employee’s choice to decide whether company lawyers or other representatives attended on DOL interviews.

“We are informing employees that they have this choice.”

As it should be.

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A part-time candidate

July 20th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small reports:

Labour Party president Andrew Little has confirmed he will seek the party’s nomination for the marginal New Plymouth seat. …

If selected he would use accumulated leave and leave without pay to campaign one day a week initially,  stepping up to full time campaigning six weeks out from the election.

Goodness, one day a week until the final six weeks is at the light end. I guess Andrew knows he will have a high list spot also to fall back on.

Most candidates who actually win seats off incumbent MPs go full-time six to nine months out.

He would quit as party president as early as next May and leave his union job if he was elected.

I guess one of the Vice-Presidents will become Acting President?

Interesting that Andrew will remain in his EPMU job as the EPMU will no doubt be running an “independent” anti-National election campaign. So Andrew will be in charge of the EPMU’s independent campaign against National, and be campaigning for Labour as a candidate.

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Mondayised Holdiays

May 27th, 2010 at 7:07 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A big union wants workers to be paid more if statutory holidays fall on a weekend.

This year, both Anzac and Waitangi Day fell on weekends, meaning workers missed out on penal rates and an extra day off work because those two statutory holidays aren’t “Mondayised” as all others are.

I have some sympathy for the notion of Mondayising Waitangi and ANZAC Days. However it would be preferable for changes to be made to the Holidays Act, rather than try to do so through wage rounds, because the whole idea of public holidays is that they are uniform.

Over a seven year cycle, it would result in an extra four days of public holidays, which would be an additional cost to business of 0.23%. And I suspect most businesses budget for 11 public holidays a year and don’t really gain much benefit from there only being 9 or 10 in some years.

Mr Newson said there was no argument about the sanctity of Waitangi Day or Anzac Day, but the union would like workers to be able to take all of the public holidays they were entitled to.

The Returned and Services Association has always opposed transferring to a Monday the observance of holidays such as Anzac Day that fall on a weekend, saying that to do so would miss the point of the day.

I think there is a sensible compromise here. Certanly ANZAC Day should always be celebrated on 25 April, but if that is a weekend, you also get the Monday off.

Think of Christmas. If 25 December falls on a Saturday, you get Monday 27 December off work also. However that does not mean you celebrate Christmas on 27 December – you still celebrate it on 25 December.

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EPMU apologises to Shaun Tan

March 11th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The EPMU has published the following:

Mr Tan was employed by the EPMU from March to September 2008.  From September 2008 until September 2009 the union had available on its website personal information about Mr Tan arising from his employment.

The union accepts it was wrong and in breach of Mr Tan’s privacy rights to have placed such information on its website and unreservedly apologises to Mr Tan for having done so and any embarrassment caused to him as a result.

Both parties regret the way the employment relationship ended.

Always amusing when a union acts in a way, that they decry other employers doing. But good to see the grievance has been resolved.

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EPMU supports drink drinking pilots

March 1st, 2010 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

How weird. The Herald reports:

A leading unionist has attacked Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe over the company’s “grubby deal” with police that has led to staff caught drink-driving being penalised twice.

Andrew Little, secretary of the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union and also president of the Labour Party, said the police had circumvented privacy and information laws and the airline had co-operated. …

Mr Little said that “Mr Fyfe’s response was less one of management heroism and more one of anger that the grubby deal had blown up in the airline’s face”.

He said that under that deal, airline staff processed for drink-driving faced criminal prosecution, appropriately, but also had the facts disclosed to Air NZ, so it could “exact a second punishment, usually dismissal, for the same offence”.

So the Labour Party President EPMU National Secretary thinks that it is a despicable thing that the Police tell Air New Zealand if a pilot gets charged with drink driving. Presumably Andrew thinks that it is nothing for Air New Zealand to worry about, as the drink driving took place in a car instead of a plane. This means that it is only *after* a pilot has also flown a plane while drunk, that Air New Zealand should be able to take action.

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Were they secret ballots or not?

November 20th, 2009 at 10:39 pm by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday on the claim of a miner’s wife:

The woman, who declined to be named, was critical of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU).

She said the union should have held a secret ballot on the Stockton strike, but instead asked miners for a show of hands.

I then updated the post to include this response from the EPMU:

The EPMU’s position on this is simple. The core allegation, that no secret ballot was held, is factually, verifiably false. There was a secret ballot at all sites as is union policy, and there are hundreds of miners who can vouch for that.

A West Coaster though has alerted me to this article in the Greymouth Star:

The Westport woman said the union should have held a secret ballot on the Stockton strike, but instead asked miners for a show of hands.

Those who wanted to keep working had been afraid of being victimised if they did not put their hands up, she said.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell said he was “absolutely 100% confident” that secret ballots were held nationwide.
If they were not, union officials would have been breaching their duties.

“We would view that pretty seriously.”

However, the Greymouth Star has been told the Spring Creek vote was also a show of hands and not a secret ballot.

Mr O’Connell failed to respond to calls about that claim today.

Now I don’t know what happened, as I was not there. But that is two separate claims about two separate ballots in two separate towns. Whether or not there was a secret ballot is a matter of fact, and should be easy to ascertain – one needs miners who were at the meetings to speak on the record to clear it up.

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EPMU criticised by miner’s wife

November 20th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A West Coast miner’s wife has blasted union organisers, saying they failed to hold a secret ballot on striking, failed to keep members informed, and continued to collect their own pay while workers’ families struggle.

The woman, who declined to be named, was critical of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU).

She said the union should have held a secret ballot on the Stockton strike, but instead asked miners for a show of hands.

Those who wanted to keep working had been afraid of being victimised if they didn’t put their hands up, she said.

The union had also failed to keep members well informed.

“My husband is only hearing things second-hand. They want you to go up to the picket line all the time to get information, but you’ve got to use petrol to get there.”

She also criticised the timing of the strike so close to Christmas. Her family would be unable to meet mortgage and rate commitments, let alone buy Christmas presents.

The union had also never told them they could claim a hardship allowance.

The woman said EPMU organisers should be refusing their own pay while coal miners were on strike, as they did in the old days.

Now that is a good idea. Solidarity with the comrades.

UPDATE: EPMU have e-mailed me a response:

The EPMU’s position on this is simple. The core allegation, that no secret ballot was held, is factually, verifiably false. There was a secret ballot at all sites as is union policy, and there are hundreds of miners who can vouch for that. Given the allegation is from an anonymous person who is not a member and would not have been entitled to vote in the meeting, people will have to judge the accuracy of her claims for themselves.
The other allegations are more easily dealt with:
  • Poor communication is a subjective issue, but I can tell you that I have personally sent out regular email updates to miners and there has been information at the picket line at all times. We don’t include miners’ wives on our email distribution lists.
  • Union officials are paid during industrial disputes because that is their job. Paid officials don’t vote on industrial action and they do not share in any gains that result from it. Union officials do not stop their other duties when one site goes on strike. They are professionals hired by the membership to represent and advocate for them including during industrial disputes. They do, however, regularly donate to industrial hardship funds.
  • The union hardship allowance is provided at the discretion of the national executive. This was opened to members last week.
Industrial action can be a highly emotional time, particularly for the families of striking workers. It’s understandable that a person might get the wrong end of the stick and lash out at the union. It’s just disappointing that during the journey of this story from the Westport News through NZPA, into the Herald and then onto your blog, no one decided to actually verify any of the claims before publishing them.
I’m always happy to provide a right of response. Well except for he who shall not be named :-)
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CTU calls on Govt to freeze Telecom

August 25th, 2009 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Telecommunications engineers continued their strike against a division of Telecom yesterday as the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) called on the Government to halt negotiations over broadband with the company.

I’m not exactly what you call a cheerleader for Telecom, and I’m not saying who has the better case in this dispute with the EPMU and engineers. But I am firmly against any suggestion the Government intervenes in the dispute by trying to heavy Telecom re broadband.

The Government should make decisions around the fibre to the home project purely on what will achieve the best result. Now personally I think lines companies have a lot to offer as well as telcos, but I want it decided on best return for investment – not intervening in an industrial dispute.

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Labour and unions

August 24th, 2009 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

One of the reasons I am not a Labour fan, is the parliamentary wing’s role as lobbyists for their union supporters.

The unions have institutional membership and voting rights within Labour. You don’t see individual businesses let alone employer groups joining National and being able to block vote at National conferences and delegate selections.

Of course National tend to be more employer friendly, but it is very very rare in the case of a private sector industrial dispute that National will actually take sides. National rightly tends to think that is a matter for the employer and union to resolve.

But over on Red Alert we have seen a huge number of posts on behalf of the EPMU over the dispute between a Telecom subsidiary and the EPMU and affected contractors/employees. The fact the EPMU National Secretary is also Labour Party President of course mudies the water considerably.

We’ve had more posts on Red Alert on this industrial dispute than almost any other issue. Forget the global recession. A post on 3 August calling for Steven Joyce to do something was followed up on by a post on 20 August calling for the PM of all people to get involved and then again on 21 August and also on 24 August.

Labour have also asked two oral questions on this. They have the right to do so, but could you imagine the outrage if National MPs were getting up in the House urging action on behalf of (say) Carter Holt Harvey in an industrial dispute.

I prefer political parties to focus on laws and policies, not to be taking sides in industrial disputes unless it reaches critical levels such as a nationwide strike.

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“Poverty” wages

March 26th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The EPMU has said Air NZ strike attendants are striking over their poverty wages.

Air NZ has said the cabin crew could earn between $40,000 and $60,000 per annum for just 30 hours of week a work.

If Air NZ is correct, then the EPMU is saying a wage of up to $38.35 per hour is a “poverty” wage.

The 4.5% pay increase offered has been rejected as it does not meet the EPMU’s demands of a 26% increase in salaries and 70% in allowances. So they are striking over Easter – the time designed to cause maximum hassles for passengers.

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Stupidity

March 11th, 2009 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

I know the “subsidy” by the Government (taxpayers) is not at much as some would want, but that doesn’t excuse this stupidity by Labour Party President EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little:

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union said the pay out was “underwhelming”.

“Unless employers are willing to meet this subsidy with a substantial top-up of their own it’s unlikely to be accepted by workers,” national secretary Andrew Little said.

“As far as the EPMU is concerned, this will be a bottom line.”

This staggers me. Andrew is saying that employers should pay employees more money to work less hours as a way to stop businesses going broke and/or having to lay staff off.

If your staff hours reduce by 10% yet your staff costs only decrease 5%, the company is arguably in a worse position – they have lower productivity as they are effectively now paying a higher hourly rate.

Luckily the CTU is being more rational:

However, the Council of Trade Unions welcomed the announcement, saying the union’s members wanted to protect employment and the package provided “a real basis for business and unions to work to save jobs”.

“We will always advocate that the package could have included a higher rate of pay. But the government contribution was essential to make this idea acceptable to workers,” CTU president Helen Kelly said.

The CTU does also say they would like employers to contribute:

“We expect responsible employers, who will also benefit from this scheme in terms of retained staff, and reduced costs associated with redundancy, to also make a contribution to the lost wages, since clearly there are benefits for businesses that do this.”

But the difference in tone and substance is significant. The EPMU is saying they will have nothing to do with the scheme unless employers pay staff to not turn up to work. They say it is a bottom line.

The CTU far more rationally says “Hey this is a good scheme, we would like employers to contribute, and think it benefits them to do so”.

Anyway the EPMU has made itself clear. Any site where they represent workers should be prepared for big job losses, as they won’t co-operate with helping save jobs.

This is one of those situations where people might ask what hat is Andrew wearing when he condemns the scheme, as oppossed to the CTU that welcomed it?

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McCarten on Little

March 8th, 2009 at 10:04 am by David Farrar

Matt McCarten examines the challenges for Andrew Little managing two roles:

But it seems a bit churlish for the party to not give Williams the deference he deserves and wait until the party’s conference until they replaced him. Just because Clark and her deputy, Michael Cullen, resigned their leadership positions it shouldn’t necessarily follow that the party president should have to fall on his sword immediately.

After all, Clark and Cullen are still collecting their parliamentary salaries until some better job comes up, while Williams is out of paid work.

If I’m not mistaken, Mike Williams did not get paid one cent by Labour Party members for his rull-time job as Party President.Instead he was appointed to six different Government Boards, which resulted in fees of close to $200,000.

Labour was in power then so there were certain advantages for his union, such as having access to Cabinet ministers. But it’s hard to see what the benefit is to the EPMU members when their leader takes up the presidency of the Labour Party when it’s the National Party that is running the country.

Imagine Little trekking up to the Beehive to lobby government ministers on behalf of his union members and expecting a sympathetic hearing. These National Party politicians know his other job is to kill them at the next general election. But it’s even stranger than that.

Little also says he will run for Parliament at the next election. Does Little or his union think his political opponents in the Government will give him anything that helps him?

What McCarten overlooks, is how much influence the EPMU will have when Andrew is the Leader of the Labour Party – or at a minimum, a very senior front bencher.

Trade unions face a hell of job over the next few years, given the global economy. It’s an even bigger challenge for the EPMU, given its central role in the export and manufacturing industries. I find it hard to believe that Little can do both his union job and the Labour Party role well. Either job is enormous on its own.

Little will obviously have a succession plan and delegate the day-to-day management of major challenges to others.

But anyone who has worked for a senior boss who has announced that they will leave soon, yet stays in their role while working part-time in a new job as part of a transition process, knows it doesn’t work. Frankly it’s bizarre.

What I will find interesting, is the fund-raising role of the presidency. Mike Williams met several business CEOs and owners a week, soliciting donations (as does National’s President). Will Andrew be meeting CEOs wearing one hat asking for donations, and maybe the next day meeting them with another hat, negotiating wage increases for staff employed by that business?

The potential for a clash of interests, seems large. I am sure Andrew will do what he can to minimise such clashes, but it will be a challenge.  Maybe one solution is that Andrew doesn’t do the corporate fundraising from businesses that have EPMU members?

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Little confirmed as President

February 27th, 2009 at 7:47 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports Andrew Little is the only candidate for Labour Party President.

I think it is safe to assume that Labour will now run a smarter campaign in 2011, than in 2008 – and that Andrew will never be found in Melbourne trying to dig up dirt personally on John Key.

Andrew is remaining EPMU national secretary. If the EFA had not been abolished, it would have been interesting to see a third party headed up by a political party’s president. Almost worth a court case :-)

Andrew will also have a sensitive juggling act. As Labour’s president he wants the Government to fail at things like oh the jobs summit. However as EPMU national secretary he wants the jobs summit to actually produce some good outcomes, that will help his members. Potential conflicts between the two jobs will no doubt be scrutinised. Of course, many people have conflicts between different roles – Andrew is not unique there. It is how you manage them.

I won’t be surprised if Andrew makes it into Parliament before the 2011 election, if there is a by-election in a Wellington seat.

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CTU on Wages

February 11th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT quotes:

Combined Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said in an interview yesterday she would not entertain any discussion of an across-the-board wage freeze or pay cuts to help businesses through the recession.

“Any unilateral approach to wages would not be helpful,” she said.

Some businesses were struggling but others remained profitable, and the size of union wage demands would be based on the position of each business, she said.

Well I agree with the CTU. Wage demands should not be across the board, but based on the position of each business. But wasn’t it the EPMU that just a few years ago that was demanding 5% pay rises across the board?

“Shareholders are not saying that because times are tough they will accept a lower dividend.”

Helen Kelly is obviously not a shareholder. Not only are shareholders getting lower dividends, they have had massive drops in their capital value. Shareholders are probably hardest hit. Not geting a pay rise is not the same as losing half your investments.

All parties – workers, employers, shareholders and the Government – should carry an equal burden as they faced the recession, and that included coming up with workplace changes.

This is muddled thinking. Employers and shareholders are effectively the same people. And the Government is not some seperate entity – it is funded by workers and shareholders!

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EPMU on Wages

January 24th, 2009 at 3:01 pm by David Farrar

From the Herald:

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union yesterday warned it would further weaken the economy if the private sector followed Mr Key’s plan.

It would, in effect, cut wages and the union would continue to seek above-inflation pay increases to ensure its members didn’t bear the brunt of the recession.

National secretary Andrew Little said higher wages were a key element in avoiding a “vicious economic cycle”.

No, higher wages (without productivity gain) will lead to fewer businesses surviving and fewer jobs. So the EPMU is saying they would rather have less people in work.

There is no magical source of money for businesses.

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Little for President then Parliament

December 1st, 2008 at 9:10 am by David Farrar

The National Secretary of that independent third party, the EPMU, is set to become Labour Party President, and then a Labour MP no later than 2011.

Personally I think this is a good move for Labour. Andrew Little will bring a proven organisational track record to the job, and will also be a very good MP for them. In fact if Labour lose in 2011 he could rise to a leadership position very very quickly.

It’s almost a pity the Electoral Finance Act will be just a bad memory by 2011, as we won’t get to see Andrew argue that he can be the Labour Party President and the National Secretary of the EPMU, yet the EPMU would still be eligible for third party status.

The challenge is to find a seat for Andrew. Andrew is far too smart to rely on being a List MP. Before Annette King became Deputy Leader, I would have said Rongotai. That may still happen. Annette will be 64 at the next election and could step down as Deputy in late 2010, having helped stabilise the Opposition.

If not Rongotai, then Hutt South is the logical other choice. Now Mallard will choose the timing of his own departure but he entered Parliament in 1984, and it is not impossible he’ll retire in 2011 unless Labour are looking to have a good chance of winning. Even if they do win though, Mallard will not be guaranteed to be a Minister with all the ambitious new MPs wanting promotion. He may also be too associated with the Clark era.

Hipkins and Robertson won’t be giving up their seats, and Ohariu will favour National if Dunne retires. Mana is a dark horse possibility for Little. Winnie Laban is a lovely person, but not well suited to Opposition. Will she want to do six or more years in Opposition, with no guarantee of a Ministerial role when they do make it back? Labour now has several Pacific Island MPs.

The other item of interest is who will suceed Little at EPMU in three years? Will it be a moderate like Andrew or is there an opportunity for a more radical leader?

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