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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 7. 11th April 1973

Boycott Bunfight with Bureaucrats

page 15

Boycott Bunfight with Bureaucrats



I note that the Student Union plans to host a social of the Federation of Labour Conferenec on the evening of May 1st (Mayday). This seems to indicate confusion about the nature of the FOL leadership. The trade union leaders, with few exceptions, are the willing helpers of imperialism, at can be easily shown.

The trade union leadership in NZ owes, its present form and content to compulsory unionism, by which the state compells workers to fund unions whose existence is dependent on state approval. The trade union leaders are therefore paid salaries and expenses by the favour of the state, and like all people in this position (e.g. university teachers and administrators) recognise (with very few exceptions) an unwritten obligation to support the capitalist state and those social forces whom the capitalist state serves, that is imperialism and local capitalism.

Recently the Hutt Valley motorworkers' agreement was renegotiated. On the one side of the negotiating table were the 4 motor companies, three American owned and one British owned. On the other tide were the trade union leaders of the Combined Unions, a committee of 14 unions with members in the motor industry.

At a 4000 strong mast stopwork meeting on Wednesday 28th March, the rank and file overwhelmingly rejected the Companies' offer of a 5.43% pay rise, and there was a strong demand by the rank and file for a full 11% pay rise, and a readiness to take direct action to get it.

The trade union leaders of the Combined Unions got a chance for further negotiations, and on Saturday 31st March, without further reference to the workers, accepted a 7.25% pay rise, an increase of only 1.82% over the rejected offer, thus guaranteeing no interruption of production and avoiding loss of profits to the companies and assuring continued profits at the old rate.

Whose side were the Combined Union leaders on in this case? The workers or the imperialists'? Who benefits by their activities?

The Combined Unions include most of the leading unions and union officials in the Wellington region, and will be a large and typical contingent at the FOL Conference and social. In the light of the strong and commendable stand taken by the student body in the recent past against imperialism, it would seem consistent for the Student Union to terminate its association with the FOL Conference social. The true significance of Mayday would come out if students were to host the rank and file workers, not their sell-out leadership.

Yours fraternally, Niel Wright

Not more! drawing