by Pat O'Dea
Earlier this year, when the swine flu dominated the headlines, though dangerous I predicted that it would blow over, especially if the authorities took proper safeguards.
At the same time I also predicted that like a contagious disease, the spreading use of lockouts would get worse if left unchecked. I felt then and still do that the growing readiness of employers to use lockouts needed to be addressed by the Combined Trade Union movement.
As I predicted then the rash of lockouts would grow unless the CTU decided to act against them with a campaign for militant union wide solidarity actions.
As I said then, any employer who reaches for the lockout weapon needed to be smacked down hard to discourage others.
Employers have just announced twice in one day, their preparedness to use of this once rare tactic against dairy workers and concrete workers. See http://business.scoop.co.nz/2009/09/16/employer-militancy-grows/
Added to these two new lockouts, the threatened lockout against the bus drivers, and the Telecom campaign to dismiss and starve out of their network engineers, till they agree to take jobs at much reduced wages and conditions (a lockout in all but name). The Telecom campaign gathered pace last week, when their subcontractors closed the gates on another 200 engineers. See http://business.scoop.co.nz/2009/09/16/employer-militancy-grows/
Individual worksites and unions are almost powerless in the face of lock outs, As the progressive dispute showed, only a CTU wide call for wide solidarity from all affiliated unions blunted this attack...
I think that a mass union campaign against lockouts needs to be mounted again.
Further, I think we need to deal with this growing emergency before it becomes an epidemic.
I would like to suggest a mass rally of all trade unionists be called outside one of the guilty employers on a Saturday, to reopen the gates, and get the workers back inside.
I would like to suggest that with the agreement of the NDU, that Bridgeman Concrete be the first target for such a Combined Trade Union campaign.
Because: A. The Bridgeman lockout was completely unprovoked. B. The Bridgeman lockout is the one that is presently ongoing now.