It is the great union robbery – the unions have stolen Labour’s leadership.
The unions have installed their man Andrew Little as Labour’s boss through a backdoor takeover, in what you’d call a perverse outcome. …
You see, only Labour’s six affiliated unions have control over the 20 percent vote for the leadership – Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing (EPMU), Dairy Workers, Meat Workers and Related Trades, Rail and Maritime Transport, Maritime, and Service and Food Workers (SFW).
So it is not actually “the unions” which stole Labour’s leader – it is actually just six private sector unions.
Just six unions out of the 144 in New Zealand is hardly representative.
And the EPMU which Little was of course the boss of, has the most votes for the Labour leadership.
It gets even worse. Only the SFW give their members a vote; the other five let delegates decide for its members.
The union vote is not one person, one vote. It is not democracy – it is a union muscle job.
A few score union delegates got to decide the leadership.
And there’s an example of a Labour leader installed by the unions – his name is Ed Miliband.
Just like Little, Miliband didn’t win the British Labour party membership, and he didn’t win the MPs, but he did win the union vote. And right now, Miliband has terrible poll ratings.
The truth is this: Little won the Labour leadership thanks to a handful of his union mates. That doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t do a good job.
Little could not win the New Plymouth electorate. Little could not win the Labour Party membership. Little could not win the Labour MPs.
All Little could win was his union mates.
If Grant Robertson’s young followers genuinely want to roll back the influence of neoliberalism, both within the Labour Party, and in New Zealand generally, then radically democratising the affiliated unions’ processes of representation would be one of the best ways to do it.
if the union vote had been open to every union member, rather than just the bosses, it is highly unlikely Little would have won.