Unionize to beat redundancy pain in economic meltdown

The Maritime Union says that membership in a union is the best strategy for workers to get protections at a time of international economic turmoil.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says that while both major political parties have been outlining pre-election “job transition policies” to assist redundant workers, the best guarantee for workers to do even better was to join a union today.

Mr Hanson says while minimum redundancy provisions, retraining and Working for Families were all part of the mix, workers needed to unionize to protect wages and conditions, especially as unemployment and job security would be major issues for 2009.

“The last National Government in the 1990s oversaw a collapse in union membership due to the anti-worker Employment Contracts Act, with a subsequent collapse of wages and conditions for workers, and we are still trying to regain lost ground a decade later.”

He says if a new National Government was elected, its promises to both cut taxes and keep services would be impossible in a recession, and they would “revert to form” by finding ways to cut down the share of national income that went to workers.

“Regardless of who is elected, workers should seek to negotiate better than the minimum.”

Mr Hanson says redundancy agreements are the norm in Union negotiated agreements, but many non-unionized workers were in an vulnerable position as the labour market tightens and unemployment rises due to global conditions.

“The best guarantee that workers can have to ensure they have good wages and conditions, and provisions for redundancy, is to be a member of a union that negotiates well on their behalf.”

Mr Hanson says strong regulations to protect workers from the worst of the fallout from the global economic meltdown were important, but a strong independent Union movement was the key to advancing workers interests.

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