I believe that no matter your role in society, be it doctor, dentist, nurse, rubbish collector, stay at home parent, beneficiary, prisoner, accountant, farmer, pensioner, bus driver, tow truck driver, taxi driver, politician, labourer, what ever it is, you are important. The fabric of society and community is woven together by everyone and everyone deserves a fair share of the harvest. If the rubbish collector stops the cities shut down in a month, if Doctors refuse to work people die, if lawyers weren’t around we wouldn’t know how much we hated lawyers, everyone has a role to play. We counter a status driven self absorbed culture by demanding workers get that dignity with progressive conditions. If we are serious about a Living Wage, tackling poverty in a genuine manner and ending welfare and beneficiary ‘dependancy’ we should fight for a worker levy and open Union membership.
I think every worker entering a new job should automatically be enrolled with the Union representing their sector. This open membership would cost a levy equivalent to two weeks union membership and workers could either chose to remain as members or if they don’t want to be a member for whatever reason, they can contact the Union and remove their membership.
They would still pay the levy. That is the cost of the standards and work safety conditions the Union has already negotiated prior to that worker entering the job, and as such is the price for having safe work environments with beneficial conditions.
Too many NZers are not coming home from work because they have been killed on the job. 51 workers were killed at work last year, Pike River was a horror story and the Forestry sector continues to kill. The Labour Party in NZ birthed from the appalling work conditions in the Blackball Mine strike of 1908 because it’s always been work conditions that have driven unionism.
It is every working persons right to collectively bargain. The power structures of the boss enable them to constantly grind down labour costs leaving dead hard jobs with no conditions beyond the minimum. I say screw that. Life can be hard and barren enough without adding wage slavery to it. Open Unionism and a worker levy as I describe it here would generate a large increase of resource to the Unions and the automatic enrolment would immediately strengthen Union bargaining power. This real muscle will force poverty down by demanding better pay and strengthen worker rights. For too long bosses have had the power, if we have a real chance of a Labour, Green and Internet MANA majority, it’s time to get serious about it.