Policy, positions, power for cash

July 6, 2014

Rodney highlights the biggest donations’ scandal:

The true donations scandal in New Zealand politics was reported this week without comment. It’s the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union’s $60,000 donation to Labour.

The EPMU is one of the six unions affiliated to Labour. The affiliated unions pay fees and fund the Party through donations. The donations and fees total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More significantly, union staff campaign for Labour and the unions run parallel campaigns. For example, Labour is campaigning for the “living wage”. In a parallel campaign the Services and Food Workers Union spent more than half a million dollars last year promoting that exact policy.

The union funding of Labour totals in the millions. And what does Labour provide in return? In effect the entire party. The unions get to determine the party’s leader. Their say counts for 20 per cent of the vote. That’s the difference between winning and losing by a wide margin.

Affiliation also buys a seat at the table. The affiliated unions have a guaranteed vice-president position on Labour’s all-powerful New Zealand Council.

They also get their people as MPs. The Labour Party enables the unions to parachute members into Parliament. Labour list MP Andrew Little headed the EPMU for 11 years before entering Parliament. . . 

That’s power and positions for cash.

If any organisation which donated to National had this sort of influence and reward for their money there would be cries of corruption.

But it doesn’t stop there, unions also get policy:

In 1999 the EPMU gave $100,000 to Labour. The following year the Labour Government passed the Employment Relations Act. This act gives the unions incredible power over Kiwi workplaces as well as easy access to workers’ pay packets.

The Employment Relations Act nicely closes the loop. The act was provided by the Labour Party. It gave the unions access to workers’ pockets, and that’s the money the unions now tip into Labour’s coffers.

Indeed, in the state sector it’s policy for Government to give union members a bonus to cover their union fees. You and I pay their union fees.

Unions and Labour are guilty of “cash for policy”, “cash to sit at the table”, “cash to decide the leader” and “cash to parachute members into Parliament”.

The rort serves to bolster Labour and entrench the power of union bosses.

Unions are highly politicised organisations that only exist now because of the legal privileges bestowed by Labour governments.

The rorting of our democracy by the unions and Labour would make a great expose.

But don’t expect anything soon: it’s the EPMU that represents journalists in this country.

That’s right, our journalists – through their union – help fund the Labour Party.

Now union membership is voluntary, not all journalists are members of the EPMU but any who are members are potentially compromised if they are covering or have any influence over stories on issues which could have any even vague political link.

Bias in reporting is easy – the stories that are covered, angle that’s taken, who’s interviewed, how much of what they say is used, the context around quotes . . . any and all of these can convey an impression that covertly, if not overtly, supports, distorts or opposes a world view.

Why different for unions?

June 30, 2014

The EPMU national conference has endorsed donations to the Labour Party and Green Party for their election campaigns.

“Our elected conference delegates feel very strongly that a Labour-Green coalition government is the best hope for restoring workers’ rights, rebuilding our manufacturing sector with a sustainable strategy for jobs, and ensuring that all Kiwis get a fair share of the growing economy,” says Bill Newson, national secretary of the EPMU. . . 

Note the Labour-Green coalition emphasising the influence the Green Party would have on government led by a weak Labour Party.

When they say workers’ rights they mean unions’ rights.

Rebuilding the manufacturing sector? Unions are buying in to the manufactured manufacturing crisis too even though the facts belie the panic.

Unions should be looking right not left for a sustainable strategy for jobs.

The Labour and Green strategy is anti-business and anti growth which is the antithesis of sustainable for jobs.

“Despite what the Prime Minister has claimed, unions don’t have millions of dollars to give to political parties,” says Bill Newson. “But this year we have a critical opportunity to make things better for New Zealand workers and their families and making donations to Labour and the Greens is one way we can make that happen.”

The donations total:

· $60,000 to the Labour Party

· $15,000 to the Green Party

“In addition the EPMU will be campaigning hard to get voters enrolled and turned out to vote in the election period,” says Bill Newson. “All voters deserve to have a say in who forms the next government.” . . .

What would be the reaction if a business gave $75,000 to National and one of its coalition partners, influenced candidate selection and policy then paid its staff to campaign on their behalf?

There would be cries of corruption.

Why is it any different for unions?

It’s not about the workers

June 18, 2013

The supposed motivation for the manufactured manufacturing crisis is jobs.

But it’s not about the workers.

Rob Hosking explains it’s really about power plays between left wing parties.

There is a massive Indian leg-wrestle going on not only between Labour and the Greens but within Labour, and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is one of the most important power brokers on the left.

With the change in Labour Party rules last year, the EPMU will have a very large say in who the next leader is. There is also a battle on for support, at the next election,  of voters who work in this sector.

It is also about protecting the size of the EPMU by trying to keep manufacturing jobs. Shedding lower skilled jobs and employing higher-skilled workers is not so welcome by this group as such workers are less likely to be unionised. . .

If it was about the workers, those behind the manufactured crisis would be delighted that people were improving their skills, and earning ability.

But parties whose modus operandi is to tax and redistribute need people staying in low-paid jobs who will benefit more from redistribution than those in higher paid ones who will benefit less and pay more.

West Coast needs jobs

September 26, 2012

Miners from the West Coast and Huntly are protesting at parliament about job losses while Bathurst is battling its way through the consent process with a project which would provide jobs.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is right when he calls on environmentalists who are fighting consents to think about the economic opportunities.

“The Escarpment Mine is an open cast mining project that is ready to go and would provide 225 jobs and incomes for workers and their families on the West Coast straight away,” Mr Joyce says.

“The developer is being held up from opening the Escarpment Mine by on-going litigation that has gone through the Environment Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

“These on-going objections are to resource consents which were granted more than a year ago. The whole consenting process for this development has now taken a staggering seven years.

“I call on those objectors to the mine to reconsider their appeals and consider the economic future of the West Coast and its people.

Environmentalists won the battle against sustainable logging on the Coast at the cost of many jobs – and pest control – and now they’re also wanting to stop mining even though the region desperately needs the jobs.

Few if any would call an open cast mine attractive but it will cover a relatively small area and the company can be required to leave the area in at least as good a state as it was before it started the project.

“I also call on the EPMU, Labour and the Greens to join my call and back the West Coast community by supporting the immediate development of the Escarpment Mine.

“The political opposition can’t have it both ways. They can’t on one hand moan about job losses and then on the other not support initiatives that would create the sort of jobs that they’re asking for.

“If we are serious about jobs and providing incomes on the West Coast then objectors should stop getting in the way of this immediate opportunity to create those jobs.”

There are more votes from the urban greens than West Coast reds so don’t hold your breath waiting for Labour to support the Minister’s call.

However, it purports to be the workers’ party and it’s MPs won’t be averse to photo opportunities with the protesters.

As for the EPMU, will it have the intestinal fortitude to show it really is representing workers and back the job creation or will politics come before people for it too?

Summit job losses no reason for currency tinkering

June 10, 2012

The announcement that 49.5 jobs will be lost at Summit Wool Spinners is very bad news for the people affected and the company.

Summit is one of North Otago’s biggest employers and that number of jobs lost will have an impact in the district.

It is not however, as the EPMU and  FIRST Union suggest a reason for government support or interference with the exchange rate.

Summit, a Japanese-owned company, was one of several businesses which received help at the peak of the global financial crisis which enabled it to retain most of its employees.

But that was never meant to be more than a temporary measure.

Summit’s fortunes have waxed and waned, and the currency is a significant factor in its fortunes, as it is with all exporters. The unions need to accept that and work with the company to find other ways to keep the business going and growing.

Budget headlines

May 20, 2011

We spent, taxed, borrowed too much – Labour

PSA accepts need for fiscal rectitude

CTU gives tick to savings, investment & exports

EPMU welcomes jobs forecast

Hawarira says thanks

Budget a bit tough: Act

Greens applaud focus on building economy

Students satisfied – NZUSA

We’re grateful – social service agencies

Flying pigs spotted

Met Service forecasts low temperatures in Hell

Not a good week for unions

October 22, 2010

It should have been a good week for unions.

The CTU and EPMU got plenty of publicity at the Labour Party conference last weekend and they tried to capitalise on that with marches against the government on Wednesday.

But that was all overshadowed by stories which put them on the wrong side of public opinion.

Few question the difficulties teachers face in their job. But demands for a 4% pay rise are out of step with the generally accepted need for frugality, and refusing to teach some classes when pupils are close to exams isn’t winning them any sympathy.

Nor is there much sympathy for claims by health workers when doctors say  strikes are putting patients at risk.

But the most damage to unions is that by the actors whose actions have put the filming of The Hobbit at risk.

Weta Workshop’s boss Sir Richard Taylor last night said the New Zealand film industry was “at some level of peril”.

He said a $670 million US-backed production of Tolkien classic The Hobbit could be produced elsewhere if a union boycott of the project was not lifted.

“We are deeply concerned it may [go overseas].

“Our industry is being put in a very dire place by very few people who have nothing to do with the film industry in New Zealand.”

A poll on the New Zealand Herald website last night showed 88% of respondents blamed the union for the Hobbit debacle and only 16% blamed Peter Jackson.

Phil Goff and his MPs have been notable for their silence on this issue.

That’s probably because it’s difficult for outsiders to discern much difference between unions and Labour so a bad week for one is a bad week for the other.

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