During the 1990s under the National government union membership fell by 50 percent. In 2000 just after Labour came in to office 69 percent of the public sector workers were covered by collective agreements and 21 percent of workers in private sector jobs.
Did that situation improve during nine years of “a worker-friendly government”, as the CTU leadership describe Labour?
Not at all. This year 59 percent of public sector workers have collective agreements, and a mere 10 percent of private sector workers.
The table below shows the grim reality.
And while the public sector collective agreement coverage declined, it is still significantly higher than the private sector.
A really serious trade union movement would look at assisting the private sector through subsidies from the much better off public sector. We need a union movement that takes the interests of the whole of the working class. That’s the sort of solidarity that would help build up unions in the private sector, which is where exploitation of the working class originates.