The idea that Labour are facing ‘political oblivion‘ by being aligned with Unions seems more hopeful than prophecy.
Unions are the solution to Labour’s worries, not the source of them.
Inequality, affordable housing, social service privatisation, minimum wage, work safety, strong public schools and health – these are platforms that every successful society needs to progress. They are the values of the NZ Union movement and they need to be values of any Labour Party.
It is the definition of ‘workers’ that needs expanding, not Unions being cut back.
Talley’s says the current scheme is working just fine. Which is a strange way to interpret a string of horrible accidents over many years that have seen the company dragged through the courts and made to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
The pattern goes much further back than this week’s revelation that Talley’s had been forced to pay a worker $6000 for his poisoning in a meat chiller at the Malvern freezing works. It includes fines and convictions for two dead fishermen, carbon monoxide poisonings, and hooks in the head, amongst others. But even more than that are over 1200 claims to ACC made by employees of the Talley’s Group in the 2014 year alone.
Talley’s meat workers give their bosses absolute discretion over shifts, allow them to sack workers over “irreconcilable differences” and force them to hand over medical and ACC information to the company. The problem is that while the company does have health and safety officers, they are not obliged to listen to them. That, and the fact that fewer people are doing much more, is creating potential dangers.
Watering down the weak health and safety standards we currently have so corporates can continue cutting corners for dollars is an argument Labour need to harness beyond those it immediately touches.
Unions are an important part of the equation for reducing inequality – They have an important leadership role in the debate.