When unions write policy

Anyone who doubts what unions get from supporting Labour need look no further than policy  to reopen Hillside Workshop:

. . . In November 2012 about 90 Hillside Engineering Workshops employees were made redundant in the South Dunedin facility’s partial closure, after KiwiRail failed to find a buyer for it.. .

Several factors including changing demand and union intransigence which prevented the business modernising to compete in the 21st century, were responsible for Hillside’s demise.

That the Chinese-made wagons KiwiRail bought in preference to locally made ones have had problems is no reason to resurrect the workshop.

The government has no business in a business like this.

It would be returning to the bad old days of subsidised industry.

KiwiRail was one of the last Labour government’s big spending mistakes.

It is continuing to cost the country far too much money which would be better spent in many other areas.

The only reason to continue throwing good money after bad is political payback for union support.

That’s what happens when unions write policy.

It might be good for them but it won’t be good for the country.

Education is another area where unions are flexing political muscles:

The country’s biggest teacher union has overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s $359 million education policy.

The announcement today by NZEI that 93 per cent of teachers and principals voted “no confidence” in the policy could potentially scupper the Government’s Investing in Educational Success plans.

The policy, announced in January, has divided teachers and principals and only minutes before NZEI’s announcement the Minister of Education revealed a memorandum of understanding has been signed with a number of principals from other organisations across the country.

NZEI president Judith Nowotarski said 73 per cent of the more than 25,000 members that voted rejected the proposed new roles outright, rather than trying to change the policy through negotiation. . .

This is another example of the pressing need for a professional body to advise and advocate on educational matters rather than an industrial one.

A professional body would have the best interests of education and pupils front and centre rather than their political views as the union does.

Some unions are affiliated to Labour and have voting powers. Some support them with money and people-power for campaigns. Some support them by fighting National government policies.

Policy they like, and possibly write, is their payback.

If it was an employers or business group doing that for National and against Labour it would be called corruption and buying power.

When unions do it, it’s just business as usual.




13 Responses to When unions write policy

  1. Andrei says:

    This is a post of an ideologue

    That the people who actually work in an industry might have something to contribute in the debate as to the future of that industry is a concept that cannot be allowed to stand

    Rather it is the spreadsheet wizards who rule the roost and they rule in the favour of the pasty faced managerial classes annual bottom line as they juggle the figures to reach the pre-determined outcome.


  2. homepaddock says:

    Andrei of course people who work in an industry can make a worthwhile contribution.

    But compare medicine and education. In education it’s only the unions that speak. In medicine, unions speak on industrial matters for their members, professional bodies speak on health policy.

    Most of Hillside is leased out to other businesses which has created jobs and my sources tell me that most, possibly all, the Hillside workers who wanted jobs have got them.


  3. Gravedodger says:

    I have strong familial and emotional ties to the expansion of Rail in NZ, my maternal Grandfather was the chairman of the Waiau Railway League and SWMBO has a rose gold necklace from the gold watch presented to Ken Pettigrew when the Iron Road reached Waiau, extended from Culverden in 1919

    Sadly however as the national network was completed in 1945 with the last remaining link in the Main Trunk from Invercargil to Wangarei on the Kaikoura coast many if not most of the branch lines were closed or facing closure as better roads and transport systems using rubber and roads were more flexible and responsive to changing patterns of use.

    In the mid 20th century the last major gasp of the socialists to mine the declining technology as regards freight, assaulted the intelligence of entreprenurial NZ with the “Notional” railway link from Nelson to the Westcoast line at the Buller River.

    In those heady days with no internet to deliver any alternative dialogue, many thought such nonsense was progress.
    They had no knowledge of the bureaucratic shambles propping up such arrant nonsense.
    Trucks could not transport goods more than 80 Kms in competition with rail so if a farm was 81Kms from the freezing works Mr and Mrs Farmer were forced to load their prime stock onto a lorry for transport to a railway station, hope sufficient wagons were there, load the wagons then wait for the next train to gather them up and hopefully deliver the load to the slaughterhouse.
    Today what could then take days now happens in hours and the system is more efficient, humane and the resulting product much enhanced.

    As a nation we are too small, to lightly populated, too fragmented and too geographically challenged for any form of Rail to ever be economic.

    Hillside as a part of that residual stupidity should be allowed to reside in the history books like the other great heavy industry Reid and Grey situated nearby after being relocated to Dunedin from its origins in Oamaru that died when demand for ploughs, harrows and other agricultural equipment could be sourced from overseas at better range, quality and price.

    Of course even if the moronic Mr c had any inkling of how things work in the real world we are forced to accept, he would not make such arrant nonsense policy, he would find an outlet that would acknowledge time has moved on.
    Sadly he can’t, since creating Fonterra he has been in somewhat of a state of decline.


  4. Andrei says:

    I was reacting to the title more than anything and the way (boo, hiss the villain) way you are treating unions – which do have their place.

    Mind you like the labour party itself the union leadership does seem to have been hi jacked by over educated middle class twits 🙂

    On the News last night they were saying that there has been a large increase in immigrants to NZ from India and that they were coming to fill IT vacancies

    Assuming this is correct (journalists are noted for reporting an alternate reality often enough) it does beg the question why we are not producing enough IT people with our flash education system


  5. JC says:

    “it does beg the question why we are not producing enough IT people with our flash education system”

    Well, when schools couldn’t even make the transition from paper based recording to a digital (Novapay) system you already have the answer.



  6. TraceyS says:

    “…it does beg the question why we are not producing enough IT people with our flash education system”

    Oh, maybe because people can freely choose what they study at university (as they should).

    In a cyclical manner people are drawn to certain careers in higher numbers due to publicised shortages. Inevitably this results in an oversupply of graduates in particular disciplines. Then the publicised ‘tragedy’ of graduates working at McD’s leads to a decrease in interest which then sometime down the track manifests in another shortage.

    This is life. That anyone acts surprised is laughable Andrei. It is inevitable.


  7. Gravedodger says:

    @ Tracy, a crusty old senior farm adviser in my early days at YFC earnestly lectured us on the simple commercial rule around production;
    ‘Never plant dear spuds’ because everyone else will and that simple following as opposed to understanding the market signal creates a glut.


  8. Southern says:

    My mate was at Hillside. He took the redundancy and started up a company doing precisely what he was doing at Hillside, but contracting to other foundries/engineering firms in Otago, the bugger just bought the latest HSV to cruise around in, guess its not all bad for ex Hillside workers.


  9. TraceyS says:

    ^ Good to hear!


  10. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, the New Zealand Educational Institute is also the professional voice of teachers, in countries where their education system is strong there is respectful and proper collaboration and consultation between the profession and the Government it should happen here too: http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/primary-teachers-rise-up.html

    Unions shouldn’t drive all policy and neither should governments force ideology on sectors without proper consultation. One of the reasons why NZEI wanted an independent teachers council was so that there could be a fully independent voice for the profession without union or government domination. The government even highjacked that idea by making all the leadership government appointees.


  11. Sean Carroll says:

    JC, teachers had no say in the hiring of Novopay, that was purely a Ministry of Education decision. Teachers know what is best for children’s learning which is why they say $359,000 should go into smaller class sizes and investment in support staff, not managers’ pockets.


  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC just believes the spin, Novopay failed because of the 147 software faults that had been identified just before it was signed off and implemented. It was nothing to do with the IT incompetence of schools. Read the report and get the facts for goodness sake: http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/NovopayProject/~/media/MinEdu/Files/TheMinistry/NovopayProject/MinisterialInquiry/MIN130501InquiryReport.pdf Nowhere does it say that schools were to blame, the IT problems were in the system!

    This Government wiped $25 million from the Ministry of Education operating budget, employed someone to lead it who had no understanding of our system and then a Prime Minister’s Office review found that the Education Ministry was the worst performing of all departments. Despite all signs that the Ministry was bordering on incompetent Novopay was signed off by three Ministers to be implemented without any question.

    Mr Fixit had to be called in to tidy up yet another mess left by his colleagues. This is hardly good governance.


  13. JC says:


    Your arguments against Novapay and the Nat Govt ring hollow in the light of recent history..

    Novapay failed because the education sector and unions determined it was a weapon to beat National around the ears. In fact teachers put up with an even worse Datacom system for a decade because it was run by a Labour Govt.. a system that was giving the same problems right up to the change of Govt in 2008 and the introduction of Novapay.


    ” NZPF: Another bureaucratic bungle

    New Zealand Principals’ Federation, 13 February 2008

    For immediate release

    The New Zealand Principals’ Federation has criticised the Ministry of Education, following major payroll errors which have created a bureaucratic nightmare across the country.

    Datacom is contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide payroll services to more than 80,000 New Zealand teachers. The latest payroll round – the first of the school term – is filled with errors, says NZPF President Paddy Ford.

    “A number of schools have not received any pay, and many support staff have been paid the incorrect amounts. Staff who are on leave have incorrectly received full pay, changes that were sent to Datacom in November have not been actioned, and staff are being forced to fill forms out twice with exactly the same information.”

    Ford has today received numerous complaints from schools up and down the country, and he says this latest debacle is not surprising given the numerous errors seen in 2007.

    “We had major problems last year with multiple changes to forms, which we weren’t told of. Then the Ministry added another layer of bureaucracy by refusing to let principals’ speak directly to the person responsible for their schools’ payroll. Today’s mistakes show just how unworkable the system has become.”

    Ford says it is ridiculous that the draft Kiwi Leadership for Principals document has been released on the day that principals are dealing with yet another bureaucratic bungle. “Education Minister Chris Carter is today talking about supporting the professional learning of Principals – but we’re spending our time dealing with petty bureaucracy and a system which is not delivering an effective service to schools.”

    Ford says that a recent OECD survey found that New Zealand’s principals spend almost twice as much time on administration as their OECD counterparts. “How are we supposed to focus on leadership when the Ministry has us spending hours doing paperwork and trying to fix their mistakes? It is high time the government acknowledged the work of our administration support staff, by giving schools an appropriate allocation through their operations funding. Then Principals can actually get on with the professional leadership of schools.”

    Ford says the schools deserve better. “It’s a nightmare. We are dealing with unnecessary bureaucracy and huge numbers of errors. Payroll systems have changed for the worse and we need to have immediate action from the ministry, directing their payroll service providers to shape up or ship out.”

    The fact is *all* Govt admin systems are crap and as my 28 years as a public servant tells me, only the incompetent teachers and and to a lesser extent health workers were unable to do the work arounds that the rest of us did as a matter of course to make systems work.

    *Thats* why you had to unionise.. union power and hundreds of thousands of hostages is what stops the reformation thats desperately needed in the sector.



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