FROM: Chris Trotter
TO: The CTU National Council
RE: The Future of the CTU
DATE: Wednesday, 21 July 2010
FEW INDIVIDUALS or institutions are given the opportunity to put right a great wrong. Tomorrow the CTU National Council has that opportunity.
The CTU’s failure of leadership in 1991 condemned hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders to a working life without effective union protection. Its refusal to heed the clear call of its own affiliated membership – which was to take direct action against the National Government – allowed Bill Birch to pass the most draconian piece of anti-worker legislation in the democratic world. The result was a catastrophic fall in union density – especially in the private sector.
The union leaders most responsible for the CTU’s failure in 1991 were those "representing" public sector workers. Over the past 48 hours rumours have begun circulating throughout the wider labour movement that, two decades later, the leadership of the public sector unions are again attempting to preserve their own positions by selling-out their brothers and sisters in the private sector.
If these rumours prove to be correct, the CTU will strip itself of whatever residual moral authority it possesses. In such circumstances there would be no ethical, tactical or strategic justifications for any private sector union remaining within its ranks.
If the public sector union leaders once again refuse to stand in solidarity with the workers of the private sector; and if behind-the-scenes machinations are set in motion to blunt the fightback against the National and Act parties' renewed attack on workers’ rights; then the only ethical alternative available to the leaders of the private sector unions will be to get up and walk out.
The President of the CTU, Helen Kelly, along with the national and regional leaders of the EPMU, the SFWU, the NDU, MUNZ, AWUNZ, the dairy workers, meat workers, railway workers, building trades workers, Finsec and Unite must make the consequences of cowardice and obstruction crystal clear to the leaders of the PSA, the NZEI, the PPTA and the Nurses Organisation:
"Refuse to fight again – and the CTU is finished."