McCarten lashes CTU

Matt McCarten has lashed the CTU for not supporting the junior doctors on strike – all but calling them scabs:

There is a sacred principle among trade unionists: when a group of workers is on strike you support them to the hilt. To side with the boss is the most serious of all crimes.

Working-class history is full of epic struggles that led to better wages and conditions. Crossing a picket line banished the offender to lifetime alienation as a “scab” with whom no working person of good character would associate. …

So last week I was gobsmacked to see the head of the trade union movement publicly attack the junior doctors’ two-day strike and their union leadership. It’s not as if CTU president Helen Kelly doesn’t know any better – her parents were staunch unionists.

This is harsh stuff from the head of UNITE Union about the head of the CTU, especially as UNITE is affiliated to the CTU. This may be the opening shot in replacing the Government friendly leadership with more aggressive leadership.

Kelly says she hopes the strike “doesn’t give unions a bad name” and the doctors’ union is not a “modern union”. This is because it focuses too much on getting better wages and conditions for its members and lacks professional advisers, “such as policy analysts, economists, lawyers and advocates”. Its crimes include not attending talk-fests with Ministry of Health and DHB officials and other unions to “work towards a better health system”.

She seems to think a modern union levies its members to employ “professional advisers” so they can have meetings with the ever-expanding health bureaucracy. Maybe the doctors are smarter than she thinks. I’m told that if all the DHB bureaucrats had to go into hospital there wouldn’t be enough beds available. I’m sure you need a talk-fest to see what the real problem is.

McCarten is right that there are more administrators than hospital beds.

The doctors’ union says it costs the taxpayer $100 million for locums. They say the $300-$500 an hour paid to locums during the strike, for the jobs that pay them $23 an hour, is more than their entire wage demand.

So instead of attacking the union, the president of the CTU should be demanding that Cunliffe stop lining up with the hospital bosses and make sure the doctors get a decent salary.

Otherwise, the doctors’ accusation that the CTU president seems more interested in looking after her mates in the Government than workers does seem to have a ring of truth to it.

Hasn’t a CTU official just been made a Labour candidate? Really what McCarten seems to be saying is that the CTU should put the interests of “labour” ahead of “Labour”.

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