Tuesday, November 15, 2005


The threatened insurgent attacks on the Australian High Commission were non-violent, but impressive. In Wellington we had maybe 200, maybe more. It was the largest cross-union protest since 1998.

The protests in Australia were phenomenal indymedia has a good summary if you want to know more.

I was disappointed that our demonstration wasn't a march. Rallies are ususally deathly boring, you supposed to listen to the mediocre speakers, but I never do, I always go round finding people I want to catch up with (or if I think of a good line using it on about half a dozen different people). In this case particularly mediocre speakers, because not one of them would like the struggle of Australian workers with the struggle New Zealand workers have. None of the scheduled speakers pointed out that the current Employment Relations Act has far more in common with the Employment Contracts Act than it does with Australia's current employment legislation.

The highlight, by far, was Don Franks (a member of the brass razoo solidarity band, who were a welcome break from the speeches). He jumped up and took the opportunity to point out that it's no good just standing in solidarity with Australia, we have to also fight for better conditions here.

The head of the Maritime Union of Australia was in New Zealand, and they're usually quite good, so I was particularly disappointed in his speech. He repeatedly mentioned Australian workers participation in wars as a reason this legislation was unjust.

If someone needed a historical basis for their claim that the proposed Labour laws are unjust (and I don't believe you do) I'd suggest this:

It is we who've done your cooking, done your cleaning, kept your rules
We gave birth to all your children and we taught them in your schools
and this
It is we who ploughed the prairies, built the cities where they trade, Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;


  1. "None of the scheduled speakers pointed out that the current Employment Relations Act has far more in common with the Employment Contracts Act than it does with Australia's current employment legislation."

    I'm not quite sure of your point. There are some significant commonalities between the ECA and ERA, such as freedom of association, and employment legislation coverage for all workers.

    The Australian legislation goes a lot further than the ECA - is this what you were trying to say?

    Overall I'm pretty happy with the ERA - it gives very good rights to union workers, without taking rights away from those who choose not to join them.

    And Mellie spoke really well in Auckland - he was great!

  2. Anonymous5:20 pm

    I'm not happy with the ERA. It oppresses me and my fellow workers.
    The ERA retains all the ECA penalties for illegal strikes; namely fines and imprisonment.
    I've struck against apartheid, the SIS, nuclear weapons, unfair dismissals and sexual harrasment. All illegal now under the ERA.So is solidarity industrial action in support of other workers, even on your own union on own job.
    The ERA is a weapon in the hands of the employing class and its a bloody disgrace that the CTU don't try to lead some sort of struggle against it.

  3. What I meant is if you considered a continuum between Australia's current Employment Legislation (the one Howard wants to get rid of) and the ECA at the other, the ERA would be much closer to the ECA than it would to Australia's current employment legislation. If it's worth fighting to protect, it's probably worth fighting to get back.

    As well as tenor horn's objections there are a number of other problems with the ERA. We still have barely any minimum code, and the Labour Inspectors don't have any power to enforce some of the rights we do have. The only way of solving the free loader problem is to close the shop (and the bargaining fee clause is barely worth the paper it's printed on).

    But the fundamental problem is the underlying philsophy. The ECA's underlying philosophy was that employer and employee can negotiate from a position of equality. The ERA's underlying philosophy is that there is a power imbalance, but this can be fixed by people being nice to each other (good faith certainly isn't worth the paper it is written on).