Opt in should be rule for any deductions

May 29, 2015

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing a law change which could drastically reduce Labour Party funds:

. . . After leading the Tory Party to its first majority for 23 years, Mr Cameron unveiled legislation that could see donations to Labour fall by tens of millions of pounds every year.

In a surprise move the Conservatives introduced a new law to reform the way union activists pay a “political levy” to Labour.

Under the Conservative plans, union members will have to opt-in to paying an annual amount to Labour, rather than opting out as at present.

It will dramatically reduce Labour’s funding from the unions and would significantly hamper the party’s ability to fight general elections.

In Northern Ireland, which has an opt-in system, fewer than 40 per cent of union members chose to pay into political fund. Under the current system in the rest of the UK just 8.8 per cent of union members opt out. . .

It’s a long time since I paid any union dues. Back then membership was compulsory and I have no memory of being asked my views on the union donating to any political party.

Now that union membership is voluntary does anyone know if union deductions here are opt in or opt out and how much say members have on donations from the unions to political parties?

This move may well be politically motivated but it is based on an important principle. The rule for any deductions from people’s pay should be opt in not opt out, except those like tax, child support and fines which are mandatory.

The opt-in rule should apply not only to deductions from pay but to any add-ons to purchases, for example insurance or other extras when you book travel, too.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall

Will unions let Cunliffe lead Labour back from left?

July 13, 2014

Both Matthew Hooton and Fran O’Sullivan think Cunliffe is trying to lead Labour back from its lurch to the left.

That would be a sensible move because the swinging votes are in the centre and many of those voters are strongly averse to the thought of Labour’s leftwards lurch and it being dragged even further left by its potential coalition partners.

But Labour is beholden to unions for money and people power, and Cunliffe is beholden to them for his leadership.

They won’t be keen on more centrist policies.

In the print edition of the NBR Michael Coote writes:

. . . The phony war raging around David Cunliffe’s leadership of Labour overlooks that the trades union movement has reassumed a decisive role in selecting the head of the party’s parliamentary wing.

Mr Cunliffe is the choice of the unions, Labour’s primary funding source.

If Labour’s predominantly bourgeois parliamentary wing defenestrated its born-again proletarian Mr Cunliffe, its unionist bankrollers could simply cut off the cashflow and let the class traitors turn on the gallows. . .

Even if Cunliffe did manage to lead a lurch back to the centre how long could he hold that position if he was leading a government beholden to the Green, Internet and Mana parties?

They are full of radical left-wingers who will exert every bit of bargaining power they have to implement their hard left economic, environmental and social agendas.

Buying access

May 9, 2014

Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor points out the integral part unions play in the Labour Party put it on very shaky ground when it criticises National’s fund-raising activities.

We have been hearing a lot from the Opposition members today around “Cabinet clubs” and their great concern about what might somewhat transparently be happening in the Government over here. Well, I have been fascinated, as they have talked about money and influence and access, to think about what is the world’s largest “Cabinet club”. Ladies and gentlemen, the largest “Cabinet club” of money and influence and access is the unions—the unions that behold that crowd opposite every day. Do you know what makes it worse? Do you know what makes it even worse? The constitution and structure of the New Zealand Labour Party allows the unions—the unions of New Zealand—to decide who the Labour Party leader is, and, God forbid, who could be a Labour Prime Minister. That is buying access. Do you know what makes it even worse? Even worse is that the unions are taking the money from the pockets of hard-working New Zealanders, particularly in the civil service. I remember it well. They take money from hard-working Kiwis, push it on to their union hacks, and then pass it on to the hacks who sit on the other side of this House. . .


. . .  I will not continue on this line of vitriol per se, but I think the reminder is there: if the party opposite wants to talk about money and it wants to talk about access and it wants to talk about influence, then it must begin and end with a conversation about the Labour Party and the role of the unions. I go back to that other point that it is money taken from hard-working, ordinary Kiwis, channelled through the system. Once again, you see it in the constitution of the Labour Party, which gives effective majority control to the unions to decide the leadership. That is just shocking. . .

Unions get more voting power in Labour than individual members.

They give money to the party and get more than access and influence. They get policy wins in return, and in Labour’s last term they also got public money.


Cunliffe wins leadership but not caucus

September 15, 2013

David Cunliffe is Labour’s new leader.

David Cunliffe was elected by a majority in the first round of a preferential three-way Electoral College contest also involving Grant Robertson and Shane Jones. . .

The votes from the caucus, members and unions were:

Caucus 40
Cunliffe, David 32.35% 47.06% 18.82%

Jones, Shane 20.59%

Party 40

Cunliffe, David 60.14% 67.79% 27.11%

Jones, Shane 13.15%

Robertson, Grant 26.71% 32.21% 12.89%

Affiliates 20 Cunliffe, David 70.77% 78.01% 15.60%

Jones, Shane 11.92%

Robertson, Grant 17.30% 21.99% 4.40%

Final result

Round 1

Cunliffe, David 51.15%

Jones, Shane 15.88%

Robertson, Grant 32.97%

Robertson, Grant 47.06% 52.94% 21.18%

Cunliffe won on the first round, albeit with 51.5% of the vote.

However, he got only 32.5% of first preference votes from his caucus colleagues and 47.06 of their second preferences.

He’s won the leadership with only minority support from his caucus colleagues  – 11 of 34 giving him first preference – in spite of strong indications that members and unions were backing him.

Winning the leadership might have been the easy bit, getting his caucus colleagues on side will be his next and bigger challenge.

How democratic is Labour’s selection process?

August 25, 2013

Labour’s change of rules for leadership contests gives 40% weighting to its caucus, 40% to members and 20% to affiliated unions.

Tim Barnett was interviewed on the radio on Friday and said he’d have two votes – one as a party member and one as a union member.

One man two votes – how democratic is that?

If the caucus and members are evenly divided over different candidates, the one the unions back will win.

How democratic is that?Regardless of the vote, the leader isn’t very secure.The NBR gave a lay guide to Labour’s rules:

A leadership vote will happen if there is a vacancy for the position, if it is requested by a simple majority of caucus at any time, or if the Leader fails to obtain the support of 60%-plus-one of the Caucus in a confidence vote held within three months of a general election.

That vote will have the 40, 40, 20 split between caucus, members and unions.

How democratic is that?

40 + 40 + 20 doesn’t equal unity

August 23, 2013

The Labour Party changed its rules last year.

The leader is decided by the caucus and the membership and union affiliates – 40%, 40% and 20% respectively.

That might sound reasonable to people within the party, it looks very messy from outside.

The Labour Party likes to think of itself as a broad church but it’s really just a collection of factions who see the party as a vehicle to get their policies enacted.

It’s almost certain there will be at least two candidates, possibly more.

It’s unlikely the caucus will be untied on who would be the best leader, it’s even less likely the membership will agree with each other and caucus.

Try convincing the public that the new leader deserves their support although the party and members didn’t agree on him ( at this stage there is no obvious her as a candidate) and union delegates had the casting votes.

One of David’s Shearer’s problems was his inability to unite his caucus and his party.

Winning the leadership could well be the easy bit for the new leader.

Internal unity will be the next hurdle and he will have less than two months to do that before the party conference where members may well wish to re-visit the man-ban.

How much do taxpayers subsidise unions?

November 2, 2012

In Britain taxpayers provided subsidies of at least  £113 million to unions:

The value of this subsidy has been exposed in the most extensive survey of national and local government ever carried out by the TPA. It shows that trade unions received an estimated £92 million in paid staff time (facility time) plus £21 million in direct payments in 2011-12. The research also demonstrates for the first time that public bodies are often deducting trade union subscriptions in the payroll process without charging the unions for that additional administrative support, despite union claims to the contrary. . .

It is compulsory here for all employers to collect union fees.

That will incur a cost which adds to overheads.

A remit from Young Nationals seeking the repeal of that legislation was passed unanimously at this year’s National Party conference.

I don’t think it has made its way to the government agenda yet.

What other subsidies do employers in general and taxpayers provide to unions here?

Is that fair and reasonable or is there more scope for change, especially when some unions have political affiliations and will soon gain 20% of the vote for the Labour leader under proposed changes to the party’s rule?

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