The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

leaving on a jetplane

I'm a bit confused about the latest twist in the EPMU Fix Our Planes At Home campaign (FOPAH for short, which sounds a bit like faux pas, hmmm).

It seems that the EPMU have done the bosses' work for them by suggesting lots of lovely pay and conditions cuts to try to save some of the jobs involved. This would be despite the fact that Air NZ is already making big profits and the decision to shift the engineering work off-shore is more to do with ideology than it's actual viability.

When you add into the mix that the Government owns 80% of Air NZ I find this even weirder - they don't want to know about it. I'm particularly sure that ex-EPMU organiser Lynne Pillay, now MP for Waitakere (Labour), is especially keen to avoid talking about it.

Links
- Len's post about this - Air NZ unions sell conditions for jobs
- Alliance release - Unions fail to confront Govt over Air NZ plans

12 comments:

David Farrar said...

Saying Air NZ is makign big profits is fairly meaningless, unless one looks at profits as compared to either income or more usefully shareholder equity.

Are shareholders making more money from Air NZ than they would in a call account with the bank?

span said...

When the majority shareholder is the Govt don't they have an obligation to not just look at the bottom line but also at the broader(eg social and environmental) impact of the company's policies? Especially when the company is already making a healthy profit, and indeed the part of the business in particular is doing well?

After all, didn't the Govt bail out Air NZ in the first place because of national interests? Why do those considerations no longer apply?

Comrade_Tweek said...

It completely undermines pay rates and conditions in other areas of the workforce. Essentially, the Employers get what they want either way, job losses or (even better) job losses with a cut in pay and conditions with the complete endorsement of the Union. If employers can do it in one area then they can do it in another.

I note that Air New Zealand originally said that it was cutting workers due to the contracting out of work to other countries, in particularly Germany, where despite it's economic situation it still has higher wages than in New Zealand.

This is hardly a signal to send to qualified workers - come to New Zealand for low wages, poor conditions and by the way it's all Union scantioned.

gpjwatson said...

While I understand your point I expect the EPMU is doing everything it can to save the jobs of those workers.

They probably assume that having the jobs is better than no jobs at all, even if cuts are made.

span said...

that way lies the sweatshop Graham...

also, the EPMU plan actually only saves about half the jobs.

Commie Mutant Traitor said...

The EPMU is not doing everything it can! What it should be doing is for every single union member to go out on strike until the government agrees to guarantee the retention of all the jobs with no reduction in pay or conditions. Technically illegal? What are they going to do about it - arrest all 50,000 members?

llew said...

Completely off topic, but I imagine Leaving on a Jet Plane might well be a good song to play at a funeral....

span said...

especially for John Denver *boom boom*

Comrade_Tweek said...

Of course, they won't go on strike or even talk about taking action because the EPMU like a number of other 'responsible' Unions (PSA) are into partnership and responsibility.

Since the 1980s, employers have used the "but obviously you want to keep your jobs line," so they get the green light to reduce working conditions with Union agreement. These conditions are seldom, if ever, made up again.

If unions buy into this 'cheap trick' then they risk further reducing workers conditions and hence, as Span notes, down this way lies the Sweating conditions of last century and overseas as well as, further alienating workers who think why should they join a union if they cannot protect terms and conditions?

Thank God for unions like NUPE!

span said...

Len has posted again about this too:

http://newsoc.blogspot.com/2005/12/little-room-for-marx.html

gpjwatson said...

Come on,

A little compromise to keep the jobs (or even half of them) is not going down the way to the sweatshop. That is just empty unionist rhetoric.

I accept the union movement is there to get the best possible deal for its members, but this shouldn't be at the expense of members jobs.

The EPMU and former VUWSA President Andrew Little have done an excellent job in their 5% campaign for workers this year, and also seemed to be tuned in to the reality of the need to move toward the employer at times, just as employers move toward the worker (or union) at times.

Mellie said...

Pragmatism versus principles? It's an interesting thought and could be inspiration for a post.

Of course, the phenomenon of 'the need to appear reasonable' is better termed 'PR'. Corporates do it all the time.

But plaudits to you Span. I'm embarrassed for (even if for only a moment) being impressed with the EPMU's attempt to solve the situation.