First Union making life hard for their comrades

Locked out Atlas workers picket their employer. Photo credit Michael Cunningham.

Oh, look, another strike under Labour!

If the First Union could be described as a donkey, I think it would be seen as a bit of a bolshy one. For it seems that?their decision to encourage their workers at?Atlas Quarries in Maungaturoto to strike has turned around and given those workers a pretty good nip on the bum.

After pay negotiations broke down, the workers walked off the job last week and started picketing their employer. It seems that there were concerns about their behaviour and the employer subsequently issued a lock-out notice to fourteen men.

Altered screenshot: Whaleoil

Shortly thereafter, those men were all issued with trespass notices. In my experience, the usual reason for a trespass notice to be issued would be because the workers had failed to remove themselves from the area, or indeed stay away.

The employees who are suspended are not entitled to any remuneration by way of salary, wages, allowances, or other emoluments in respect of the period of the suspension.

So workers who claim they are paid three to four dollars less than the market rate will now forfeit at least a week, if not weeks, or months of salary. Slow clap for First Union, way to look after your comrades.

Things are apparently so dire for this group of men, that local folk are rallying around them in support. A Facebook post flooded onto my screen today, the heading was?PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE,?QUARRY OWNER-OPERATOR LOCKS WORKERS OUT OF WORK UNTIL THEY ACCEPT PAY DEAL.

Well since they said I should feel free to share, here it is.

Mangawhai Locals Facebook Page

So it looks like the push from Labour and the Greens to have every worker on at least the Living Wage is having the desired effect. But raising expectations away from reality really doesn’t help. These blokes are all getting paid more than the minimum wage, but after being told they are worth so much more by your minority socialist government, it seems to have gone to their head, or at least their Union minder’s heads. Good on the boys for trying to get more pay for themselves but these negotiations started nearly a year ago, I think it’s time for the Union to be a little pragmatic.

I see that one of the conditions the company are looking to implement is for the workers to “Be available” for 88 hours a week. The Union is trying to get this reduced by trying to link it to the 70 hours a week that you are legally allowed to drive a heavy motor vehicle. Clearly, the men won’t be driving 88 hours per week, as that would be illegal. Now I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be available to an employer 88 hours per week, but maybe some honesty would be appropriate. Perhaps the Union in their press releases, might like to state exactly what is being requested and offered by the company rather than just slagging them off.

After all, not every employee is worth what they are paid. I don’t know any of these men but perhaps I could suggest that if they are so good at their jobs, they should have no problem finding work elsewhere with those other companies that pay so much more.

In fact one of the comments on the Facebook page sums this side of things up nicely by stating:

Plenty of work out there on the motorway 35.00 hr for operators I would tell em where to go.end quote.

But other commenters on the Facebook page aren’t so sensible. It’s all good supporting your friends, but what’s with the nasty little digs at Atlas Concrete bosses?

From the First Union Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing Division Secretary, Jared Abbot, Quote.

?The owner?s lifestyle is an extra kick in the guts. He owns a lavish holiday home in Russell, and charges top price for his concrete, meanwhile his workers are on two to three dollars less than competitors? employees. End quote.

And this from the page comments:

Proudly announcing your envy isn’t going to help the cause.

So the boss has a bach, big deal. So do lots of people. Do the owners live in mansions in Remuera? I don’t really know, certainly not as far as I can tell, but I expect someone who has worked hard all their life to make a very large successful business, would be entitled to live where ever they choose, in whatever type of abode they deem to be appropriate.

And are the overheads of the competitor companies the same, perhaps they have old trucks, or drive less distance to make deliveries? Maybe things are actually a little tight for Atlas and that is why they need to be sensible with their payroll? I wouldn’t know, so perhaps sacrificing a dollar an hour to save your mate’s job might be an honourable thing to do.

What Richard Jansen might like to remember is that these guys only have a job in the first place because of the massive risks and financial outlay that the owners have put themselves through in order to be successful.

But there is “Impressive community support” apparently. People are donating food, and Give-a-Little type pages have been set up and everything. Well, it’s been up a week, so how much support so far?

Screenshot of Give-a-little page 08/08/18

Oh dear. One generous donor. (Seven bucks!, Who gives seven bucks?)

I see that the goal is open-ended so I expect it to get up to at least $20.55?any day now. That’s a whole living wage hours worth.

So I wonder how many of those striking workers voted for Labour, Winnie or the Greens? I wonder if they think they are winning here? And I wonder how many of their partners wish they would just pull their heads in, quit the Union, and get back to supporting their families?

It will take a long time to recoup even a single week of lost wages.

But most of all, I wonder which of these fellows will draw the short straw and be the first to be made redundant if the going really gets tough. But when that happens, we know it won’t be the fault of silly socialist policies or power grabbing unions, it will all be down to the capitalists, because you know, capitalism has failed.

At the end of the day, it’s still a market economy. Boys if you don’t like the pay and conditions that you have been offered, go and hunt for another job. If lots of you do the same and the company suffers, then their pay offers will change, it’s how life works.

In the meantime, why not send your Union rep a wee card thanking him for another week of lost wages.