Joe Hendren

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Support NZ Post workers

The Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) have launched a campaign to help NZ Post workers gain a 5% pay rise this year.

"In less than a decade NZ Post has grown 500%, from a four hundred million dollar business to a two-and-a-half billion dollar company. And a lot of that is due to EPMU members at NZ Post: their loyalty and hard work has ensured the company earns good profits and has a great reputation."

As a loyal Kiwibank customer I say hear hear!

NZ Post made a profit of $130 million last year, and has made a profit every year since 1987. Yet over that same timespan pay packets have only kept up with the cost of living, and the latest offer from NZ Post is yet more of the same.

NZ Post likes to boast the company strives for "common goals and mutual gain"” and "“being a great New Zealand company and meeting our social obligations"”, so its about time NZ Post put its money where its mouth is, and offered their workers more than a Penny Black.

Click on the Take Action link and send a message to SOE Minister Trevor Mallard, NZ Post management and a message of support to NZ Post workers. Help STAMP out poor wages!

It is great to see the union movement getting into the digital age with designated websites to support their campaigns. It also provides a great avenue to educate workers about legislation relevant to their job. While the EPMU do not make mention of the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) Act 1986 on their campaign website, in my humble opinion it is highly relevant.

While the Act defines the primary objective of SOEs is to "operate as a successful business" the Act also requires NZ Post to be a "good employer" and exhibit a sense of social responsibility. At the time Richard Prebble introduced this deeply flawed piece of legislation, Ministers considered the requirement to be a "good employer" a 'quite harmless clause' that unions would agree with*. While this might not be much, this demonstrates that SOEs have greater responsibilities than 'just another private business', so the rant from the right about SOEs being run according to some purist business model should be ignored.

It is high time the Government and State Sector employers were challenged to make the "good employer" clause mean something. I would also like to see the union movement calling for such clauses to be strengthened, as this would help build solidarity right across the state sector, from NZ Post, to Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.

It is also worth mentioning that the SOE Act lacks any specific requirement for SOEs to exhibit a sense of environmental responsibility - this now looks like a glaring omission.

* Jane Kelsey, "Rolling Back the State", p 365.

PS: I realise Air New Zealand is not strictly an SOE, but it should be!

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