EPMU calls for Commission of Inquiry into police spying
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is backing Unite Union’s call for a full public inquiry into the activities of the police Special Investigation Unit following revelations a paid informant for the unit was spying on union industrial and political campaigns.
Emails obtained by the EPMU show paid informant Rob Gilchrist forwarded the police meeting times and venues for the EPMU’s campaign against National’s 90 day fire at will bill in 2006, as well as the schedule for union pickets during the Progressive Enterprises lockout, which involved 120 EPMU members.
The emails also show the SIG received information on at least seven other union groups, including Unite, the Service and Food Workers Union, the National Distribution Union, the Maritime Union, the National Union of Public Employees, the Youth Union Movement and the Council of Trade Unions.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says the SIG’s actions are well outside its mandate to monitor terrorism and threats to national security and a Commission of Inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of it.
“For the sake of public confidence it needs to be established whether Gilchrist was acting as a police-sponsored unguided missile or whether something more sinister is afoot.
“We were aware at the time of the Progressive dispute that the policing on the picket lines was unusually aggressive and this may be explained by the fact the SIG had an unhealthy interest in what was a lawful industrial dispute.
“In a free and democratic society citizens have the right to organise and protest and demonstrate and should be able to do so without being molested by the police.
“This looks like a systemic abuse of police power and we do not believe the powers of the IPCA are sufficient. A Commission of Inquiry has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence and senior police intelligence officers would need to be called to justify their actions.”
The EPMU is New Zealand’s largest private-sector union, representing 50,000 workers across eleven industries. The emails concerning the EPMU follow, others are available on request.