The MacDoctor’s sole reaction to Jami-Lee Ross’ bill to remove Section 97 from the Employment Relations Act 2000 was one of astonishment. The MacDoctor had no idea that section 97 prohibited the use of temporary contract labour to mitigate a strike. US employers are allowed to hire permanent contract labour, which is, in the MacDoctor’s opinion, a bridge too far – but banning temporary labour? This is one of those hare-brained socialist laws that have caused the wanton destruction of businesses in Europe, especially in the UK. The MacDoctor’s astonishment is reserved for the fact that this is a member’s bill (and a junior member at that). Why on earth was it not on the agenda alongside the 90 probation law? It seems unbelievable that the removal of such a corrosive piece of legislation could have been left to the random chances of the ballot box.
Section 97 has one single purpose – to enable unions to have prolonged, debilitating strikes where the resolve of the workers is pitted against the resolve of the employers in an extremely confrontational “fight to the death” (or, possibly, “fight to the debt”). Allowing an employer the ability to contract temporary labour ensures that strikes remain short, making it harder for employers to organise labour and easier to reorganise the schedule, rather than hire extra staff. These type of strikes are less damaging to the bank balances of workers and less damaging to the firm. Least you think that union bosses should not care about the firm, let the MacDoctor remind you that if the firm folds, the workers have no jobs – at any rate of pay.
The Ports of Auckland strike is a great example of this. Workers gained little from the strike and lost many weeks of pay. Ports of Auckland lost business to Tauranga and will have serious difficulty finding investment for expansion, given the labour situation. Nobody won the prolonged squabble except for the Maritime workers union leaders who gained kudos amongst their peers for “facing down” Ports of Auckland.
The MacDoctor assumes this law was placed on the statutes by a Labour government keen to keep their union mates sweet. It does absolutely nothing to improve employer/employee relations and adds no extra power to the sting of strike action. It should be struck from the books at the first opportunity