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Trevor Gives A Lesson In Union Busting

4 December, 2003

Trevor gives a lesson in union busting

Union-busting strikes again as Education Minister Trevor Mallard attempts to give Government the power to suspend and dock the pay of striking teachers, Green MP Metiria Turei said today.

Metiria, the Green spokesperson for Education, said that the Government's State Sector Amendment Bill No. 3 poses a serious threat both to one of New Zealand's most effective unions and the right of school boards to decide what is their appropriate way to deal with staff issues.

"The Government is threatening schools to punish their own staff for taking industrial action - and if they don't want to then the Government is happy to do it for them," said Metiria.

"This move smacks of the union-busting mentality that crippled workers' rights in the 1980s and 1990s. Trevor Mallard is engaging in the same kind of bullying tactics that he fought against when Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson were pulling the strings.

"This legislation has all the class of a schoolyard thug and it would effectively neuter the ability of teachers to engage in industrial action. The Government has essentially guaranteed that teachers would lose their pay and possibly their jobs if they try to make a stand.

"Successive governments have almost made a sport out of undervaluing teachers - the unions have had to fight very hard to get any improvements in the pay and working conditions of teachers."

Metiria said school boards should have the right to decide what was the appropriate way to deal with staff relations and urged Mr Mallard to consider the wider implications.

"The threat to fine boards who choose not to dob in striking teachers is stealing education money back from schools. Many teachers could leave the job if they're threatened with loss of pay or a breakdown in staff-management relations and it would be the schools that suffer the immediate consequences.

"The education sector is already badly understaffed, this move simply cannot make the profession more attractive for prospective teachers. Imagine the disruption to students when there are hardly any people to teach them, Trevor.

"The Government is attacking unions and using school boards as a tool for this. This is not only unfair for school boards but cowardly on the part of Government," she said.

ENDS 432

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