Skip to content

Union access to the workplace

25/07/2010

Listening to the likes of Helen Kelly, Matt McCarten or reading commentary by Chris Trotter and Andrew Little one might have thought that war had been declared by John Key on all that was holy. The over worked military terms. The invocations of the need for a crusade against the evil and demonic forces of capitalism led by the Great Satan John Key, supported by armies of dastardly employers who cannot wait to place their jackboots on the throats of the noble working class.

The hysterical over the top response by unions to changes proposed to employment law seems to Adam just that hysterical.

Much of the squawking, mewling and squealing which we are hearing from the above named persons, plus let us not forget dinosaurs such as Sue Bradford and John Minto, is that of people seeing their ‘entitlements’ reduced and their one sided power relationship rebalanced.

In particular many of these agitators are especially exercised about union access to the workplace. Well an article in Saturday’s Dominion Post went a long way to explaining why that might be the case. It was by Susan Hornsby-Geluk, an employment law specialist. Unfortunately it is not on line, but can be found on Page B6 of Saturday’s Dominion Post.

You see at present unions have access whenever they want, for as long as they want and can effectively spend as much time as they want with the workforce with little or no comeback from the employer.

The article notes:-

Many employers are frankly dismayed when they seek legal advice after a union official walks into their building.

They find it difficult to accept that union officials are entitled to walk around their premises at will, talking to members and seeking to recruit new ones. As it stands, the law allows unions to enter business premises and hold discussions with employees. They don’t even need to give prior notice to the employer.

Provided the union believes that there are employees working in the workplace who fall within their membership rules, they can enter. The only restrictions are that the access is ‘‘reasonable’’, in terms of time and manner, and that the union complies with health and safety, and security procedures.

Once union officials have entered the workplace they are allowed to hold ‘‘discussions’’ with employees, including for the purposes of recruiting members. There is no time restriction on these ‘‘discussions’’, provided they do not exceed a ‘‘reasonable’’ duration – and the employer is not allowed to deduct money from an employee’s wages for time spent talking to a union rep.

So you have to pay your staff whilst the union disrupts the working patterns and productivity. Why can this activity not be carried out in breaks or outside work hours?

Helen Keyy is wont to declaim about evil and dastardly employers, but this anecdote demonstrates another side of the issue:-

Attempts by employers to constrain unions’ broad rights of access have met with challenge in the Employment Relations Authority.

In one case an employer had been obliging enough to provide a union official with a swipecard. The union official saw this as an invitation to explore all areas of the employer’s business – including the HR area, where employees’ confidential personal files are kept.

When the employer asked for the swipe card to be returned, the union filed a claim in the Employment Relations Authority that the employer was denying them their rights of access. This was despite the fact that every other visitor to the premises must sign in and be accompanied by a staff member at all times.

But in the union lexicon there can be no such thing as a bad action by the unions. Only employers ever do bad things in their fantasy world, where employers spend all their time plotting against the workers.

Yet in the main the media is giving grteater prominence to the likes of Kelly and McCarten, because they make more noise and have no compunction about spouting mis-information.

What is revealing as well is how ready some of these people are to act as if we were still in the days of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and not 2010 with their class and envy based views.

Based on the Dominion Post article it would appear that there are more than reasonable grounds for employers to have greater control over when union officials can enter their workplaces and the activities which they can carry out there.

9 Comments
  1. 02/08/2010 14:15

    There was a thread about this on Kiwiblog, and I was told by a pro-union person that there were restrictions on Unions. When I asked what they were realistically, I was told that the word “restriction” appeared in the law.

    I also asked what penalties applied to Unions breaking the rules. The response was a snippy “do your own research”.

    You’d have to have been born yesterday to believe that the current rules provide any sort of balance.

    Like

    • adamsmith1922 permalink*
      02/08/2010 16:07

      As as I could tell from the article the ‘restrictions’ were the need to comply with Health & Safety requirements, otherwise the ‘restrictions’ were/are minimal

      Like

  2. Lucy permalink
    26/07/2010 16:58

    P O Robert. I am with Inventory2 excellent post Adam.

    Like

  3. 26/07/2010 16:49

    “Much of the squawking, mewling and squealing which we are hearing from the above named persons, plus let us not forget dinosaurs such as Sue Bradford and John Minto..”
    The invocations of the need for a crusade against the evil and demonic forces of capitalism led by the Great Satan John Key, supported by armies of dastardly employers who cannot wait toplace their jackboots on the throats of the noble working class. (Italics mine)

    Adam – the language you use is very revealing. Can you confirm that the people you cite used those words, or are they yours? The descriptions you provide likewise. If they are yours, who then, is taking the issue to extremes?
    What is it with you people who assign animal noises to your opponents? It seems to me that you are attempting to de-humanise people like Minto, Bradford and McCarten. Does that not strike you as … suspect behaviour?
    It does me.

    Like

  4. 26/07/2010 07:43

    Excellent post from Adam, given his parlous state of health. We have linked to it here:

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2010/07/adam-smith-and-unions.html

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. Employment law changes neither anti-worker nor anti-union « Homepaddock

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: