Friday, March 30, 2012

Some weeks are better than others

On a personal level, this was a motherfucker of a week - critical systems falling over, horrendously boring meetings, and an assignment I've barely started that's due on Sunday (warning - never assume the coming year looks quiet enough for you to do some extramural papers).

On a national level though, what a fucking satisfactory week - the govt's getting the death of a thousand cuts courtesy of factional infighting, and now PoAL is reduced to putting a brave face on a painful defeat in the courts.

Stuff has the story here, in which PoAL "...announced it had made a "fresh determination" to work with the Maritime Union and come to a collective agreement," or in plain language, cancelled its lockout and agreed to pay the locked-out workers for the time lost.

But Stuff's story is just confusing - why would PoAL do that?  Well, my money's on this sudden change of heart having to do with Judge Travis having issued this document on Thursday, in which he says:

[24] I find that there is a seriously arguable case that the actions of the defendant in allegedly threatening to and then deciding to contract out the work on which the union employees were engaged under the expired collective agreement whilst collective bargaining was on foot for a new collective agreement was likely to undermine and arguably has undermined the bargaining. It will also, arguably, undermine the bargaining in the future. It is therefore seriously arguable that those actions have breached s 32(1)(d)(iii) of the Act.

And:

...even under the Employment Contracts Act 1991, mass dismissals for bargaining purposes had been found to be unlawful in McCulloch v New Zealand Fire Service Commission3 and New Zealand Seafarers’ Union Inc v Silver Fern Shipping Ltd (No 2).

And:

[30] Finally, there is an issue that by progressing the dismissal proposal and engaging the contractors, their employees will be performing the work of striking employees in breach of s 97 of the Act. That will be equally arguable, even though the strike has ceased, if the dismissal proposals are pursued while the threatened lockouts apply. I find that all these issues are arguable and they will be dealt with in the substantive hearing commencing on 16 May.

If PoAL's CEO and board couldn't see the writing on that wall they'd need seeing eye dogs - hence the "surprise" backdown today.  Their efforts now will be focused on avoiding a judicial spanking at that substantive hearing.

At this point, a special mention to 3News:  at least twice you guys told us that "employment law specialists" were of the view that MUNZ were clutching at straws taking this to the employment court because they didn't have a shit's show of getting a result.  I watched on both occasions thinking that either "good faith bargaining" is a meaningless term in law, or the overpaid blatherers you were talking to were specialists mainly in wishful thinking.  I guess it was the latter - I advise looking for some less delusional "employment law specialists" to talk to in future.

2 comments:

Deborah said...

I'm sorry it has been a pig of a week, PM!. On the good side, your writing has been great.

Psycho Milt said...

Thanks! All credit to procrastination - I'm finding there's nothing like the fact you really ought to be writing an assignment to prompt an outpouring of blog posts...