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

Monday, October 02, 2006

Excluding the Exclusive Bretheren

Other blogs, notably No Right Turn, have been following the EB saga with more vigour and detail than I, but I wanted to pick up on one aspect of it all.

Ruth Dyson has intimated recently that she will be considering removing the exemption that EB-owned businesses currently have from union-related labour laws. There has been some discussion that the quid pro quo for this exclusion was that the EB would stay out of politics, but I'm not sure that's written down anywhere. It may be part of the big picture, but I suspect that the exclusion was first given many many years ago and that that wasn't actually part of the decision-making process; it was instead a boon granted to recognise the specific religious requirements of this group, namely that members were not allowed, for religious reasons, to join other groups. Obviously they did some good lobby work at the time and whenever employment legislation has been changed over the year have submitted strongly to keep this in. Idiot/Savant has more on the background of the clauses here.

However this doesn't actually explain why they should get this exclusion when I'm sure there are plenty of other business owners who are also ideologically opposed to unions in the workplace (some even with a near religious fervour) who are not so favoured. (And nor should they be.)

Forget about the EB's possible involvement in all sorts of dodgy politics for a moment (not to minimise it, just for the purposes of this discussion.) Erase from your mind thoughts, such as Oliver has put forward in a comment on NRT, that any removal of the exclusion is utu.

Why should the religion of the business owner determine whether or not their employees can join a union?

In fact, let's take religion out of this equation - why should the employer decide whether or not their workers can join together on issues of their own terms and conditions of employment?

Update, same day, 9.14am: Urbancast has also posted on this very topic.


Anonymous said...

Because Brethren usually only employ other Brethren. Quite simple really.

backin15 said...

Anon, what difference does that make, a person's religion, whether employer or employee, doesn't reduce their rights or responsibilities under the law?

Span said...

What bi15 said.

But also, surely if the bulk of the workers are EB also then there would be no worry of those employees being interested in joining a union, as it would breach the rules of their religion, therefore why bother with a law?

Further also, your own comment, anon, allows that there may be non-EB working in EB-owned businesses - where's the choice for them?

Particularly given that some of the EB businesses are in small towns, or quite specific industries, where jobs aren't exactly abundant.

Maria von Trapp said...

actually no, Brethren often employ non-Brethren, even in managerial positions.

still makes no difference though.

Maria von Trapp said...

AND, being the cult hater that I am.....I actually think this could be a good way for some of the lower level Brethren to get some power back from their oppressive leadership.

Might post about that actually.......

john said...

And don't you feel kind of grateful that those strong white-shirted Brethren men are watching out for you? Hell, what if you did something really awful but for some reason forgot it?