New Zealand: Reject the union sellout of Wellington rail workers!
the Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand)
16 March 2018
The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) will hold small group meetings with rail workers in Wellington tomorrow to promote an employment agreement with Transdev and Hyundai Rotem (THR), the private companies that run the capital’s commuter rail network on behalf of the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Led by Labour Party and Green Party-aligned politicians, the council privatised passenger rail services in 2016, aiming to save $100 million over 15 years. This is to be achieved through job cuts, an effective wage freeze, increased workloads and other attacks on workers, with the collaboration of the trade union bureaucracy.
The proposed Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA), covering around 400 workers, follows protracted backroom negotiations between the RMTU, the council and THR, which began in May 2017. The RMTU held a token one-day strike in Wellington last November, in an effort to contain workers’ anger over company demands for a pay increase of just 1.3 percent and cuts to weekend penalty rates for Hyundai Rotem workers. The latter threat was subsequently dropped.
The new proposal, fraudulently presented as a victory by the RMTU, is a sellout that workers must decisively reject.
The full draft MECA has not been distributed to workers. Instead, RMTU officials pinned several pages to a staff bulletin board, purportedly displaying all the changes.
The pact includes a pay increase of just 2 percent, the same as in 2016 and not nearly enough to keep pace with soaring living costs. One worker told the WSWS the increase amounted to “45 cents an hour that gets eaten up by inflation.” The lowest-paid workers, who make $17.62…