First, provisions of the bill will legislate to compel businesses to collectively bargain.
But the basis of bargaining in New Zealand and international law is that it is voluntary. Making it compulsory to bargain is a breach of ILO conventions ratified by the last Labour Government.
But it will make Labour’s union donors very powerful.
Second, under the proposed legislation, union officials will have much greater access to workplaces to recruit members. I don’t have any problem with access to workplaces to discuss union business, and even to recruit.
But I do have a problem with the unfettered access this legislation provides. Union officials won’t have to seek permission to enter the workplace, nor will they have to give notice of their visit. For context, even labour inspectors have to provide notice when they want to arrive for a labour inspection.
So union officials will have greater powers than the Government itself. Amazing what they get in return for their donations.
Federated Farmers in their submissions noted that this would mean in the case of farmers – where their home is often their office – that union officials could access their home without permission. I doubt this would seem reasonable to most New Zealanders
So much for your home is your castle.
Third, if a union recruits two members from a workplace then, as noted above, the union can then compel a business to collectively bargain, even if the rest of the people in that workplace are not union members.
So say two of your 300 staff join a union. They can compel the employer into a collective contract that all new staff will automatically be joined to.
If you are a working parent who needs to leave work at 3pm to pick up the kids, and the collective agreement says your hours of work must be 9-5, and if you haven’t opted out, you will need to negotiate with both the union and your employer to be able to pick up your kids. This is onerous and unnecessary.
Great – need to ask the union for permission to change your hours.
Fourth, the legislation would compel employers to provide personal information about a new employee to a union. Given the recent furore around Facebook’s use of personal information for marketing purposes, I doubt if many would see it as fair and reasonable for legislation to compel your employer to provide your information to any third party, no matter who they are.
Where’s the Privacy Commissioner when we need him!
UPDATE: The Commissioner did submit on this issue.