October 27, 2006
Expect unions to keep on growing
New Zealand’s largest private-sector union says that union membership numbers will keep growing as the impact of wages campaigns hit home.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little, who last year launched the Fair Share – Five in ’05 campaign that led to the first real increase in wages in years – said that it wasn’t surprising that more people were joining unions.
“People are seeing that there’s real benefit in union membership and are keen to be part of it,” he said.
“They see that the best way to get a decent pay rise is by speaking to their employers with one voice through their union.”
Mr Little said that unions had put a lot of effort into adapting themselves to 21st century workplaces, and statistics released today by the Industrial Relations Centre of Victoria University showing a substantial rise in union membership indicated that the changes were working.
Changes made by the EPMU included:
• Running successful national campaigns like
the Fair Share campaign to put more money in the pockets of
• Improving the union’s democratic processes to give shop-floor members a greater say in the union’s decision making;
• Restructuring the union to make it more relevant and responsive to members’ needs;
• Reaching out to non-members to increase the public understanding of unions.
Mr Little said that it was heartening to see the work of the past six years paying off.
“We’re obviously on the right track, and working people are showing a real vote of confidence in us by joining in record numbers,” he said.