One area which will deeply affect workers in unions like the EPMU is the attack on our MECAs, or multi-employer collective agreements.
These are agreements which cover workers across many different employers in the same industry. They set a basic standard for wages and conditions which is consistent across that industry – and while some employers may pay more, or offer better redundancy or leave entitlements, every worker is guaranteed that basic level of good pay and conditions. They also set a benchmark – and gains in a MECA flow on to other workers. The MECA establishes a going rate.
We’re union, so we know that there’s strength in numbers.
By working together not just in one company or one worksite, but across many different companies and worksites, we’re even stronger. That’s why bargaining for industry agreements can lead to real, meaningful wage increases for workers. This year, the Metals MECA got 2.5% - at a time when nearly half of all Kiwi workers won’t be getting any pay rise at all.
But a MECA isn’t just good news for workers – it’s actually good news for their employers.
When different companies which operate in the same environment are all signed up to the same basic standard for pay and conditions, they don’t end up getting undercut by cowboy operators who can be “competitive” by overworking people and paying them poorly. With a MECA, every company is competing on the same labour costs.
But obviously, those cowboy operators don’t like it.
And conveniently, the National Party’s employment law changes will make it easier for them to just refuse point-blank to be part of a MECA. And when het cowboys start doing it, many other employers are forced to follow the trend … it becomes a race to the bottom. It's just another part of the strategy to undermine our wages and conditions at work, and give more power to bad employers.