National and the CTU

An item in Trans-Tasman caught my eye:

The PM was quite bolshie this week about the CTU’s open letter and threats to cut off political co-operation. He reminded the CTU’s Helen Kelly he’d broken a National Party promise by heeding union pleas not to break what he called the union “monopoly” on collective bargaining. It’s something the CTU should “think about,” he said.

So let’s see if I have this right.

Prior to the last election the CTU ran advertisements and explicitly campaigned against National. They even targeted senior MPs in video ads.

Now if a business group such as BusinessNZ had run such a campaign against the Clark Government, they would have been frozen out of even getting to have meetings with Ministers.

Instead John Key gives the CTU direct access to him. And even better he agrees to hold off on implementing two of National’s election policies – employer consent for access, and removing the union monopoly for collective bargaining.

So just think about this. He has a National/ACT majority. He could implement his entire election policy and in fact some of ACT’s. But instead he agrees to defer two policies to keep happy the very same organisation that campaigned against him.

18 months later, he announces that one of the two deferred policies will be implemented. A policy that was explicit election policy. And on the basis of this, the CTU claims it will call for strikes, industrial action and refuse all co-operation.

There is a lesson in this for John Key. As admirable as it is to be Mr nice guy, and try actually extend the hand of friendship to the CTU, despite them campaigning explicitly against you, it was always doomed to fail. The CTU will always put first its desire to get Labour into office, and was always going to turn around and crap on you. They just needed the excuse.

I mean does anyone really think it is a rational decision to declare you are now against all free trade agreements and will try and stop them, just because a union now has to let an employer know at least a few minutes in advance if they want to visit?

The PM should get on and implement the remainder of the 2008 industrial relations policy. Unions should indeed not have a monopoly on collective bargaining. A group of employees should be able to negotiate a collective contract themselves without needing to form a union.

Likewise a lawyer should be able to represent a group of employees, and negotiate a collective contract on their behalf. You do not need a union to negotiate a collective contract. Labour merely passed a law requiring it. Under the former law, there were quite a few collective contracts that did not involve unions.

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