New Zealand rail union enforces another pro-company pay deal
10 November 2018
The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) has forced through its third pro-company wage contract with multinational companies Transdev and Hyundai Rotem (THR) covering 417 rail workers in Wellington, the New Zealand capital.
The workers run and maintain the region’s commuter rail service, which was privatised by the Labour Party-dominated Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) in 2016 in order to save $NZ100 million over 15 years at the expense of jobs, wages and conditions.
The RMTU confirmed ratification of the Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) in a one-page notice on November 5 that claimed “95.44 percent of members voted to accept the recommended settlement.” THR issued a joint statement declaring they were “pleased” the deal had gone through.
The result is a fraud, achieved through an anti-democratic ballot process in which 398 unreturned voting papers were automatically counted as supporting the agreement. The RMTU issued 417 voting papers by post and received 19 “no” votes against the union-company deal. The previous 2017–18 contract, imposed by the same dishonest methods, received eight “no” votes when finally ratified in April.
The ballot was conducted after months of cynical manoeuvring by the RMTU designed to disenfranchise members. The terms were presented to rail workers following secret negotiations with employers. There were no mass meetings for union members to discuss what pay claims should be advanced or whether there should be a strike. In order to intimidate any opposition, workers who voted “no” were asked to write in a space on the ballot their reason for rejecting it.
The union ensured that rail workers were…