On-line Column: The spectre of rusting metal.

  • Simon Upton
Crown Research Institutes

The correct answer for yesterday's competition was, of course, Wellington's BNZ tower. It took eleven years to build.

Intelligent readers of upton-on-line will pick up the inference, immediately. The construction of BNZ's 102 metre tower is an infamous episode in New Zealand's industrial history.

Construction of the BNZ's tower was derailed by a demarcation dispute between the boilermakers and the engineers as to who did the work. It was an inter-union wrangle and there was nothing the employer (the site contractor) could do about it.

Is it claiming too much to say that the Labour Party's industrial relations policy risks taking us back to the strike ?ridden days of the 70s and early 1980s? I don't think so.

Labour's announced policy promotes the concept of collective bargaining. Under their policies, employees won't be able to negotiate a collective contract with their employers - only a union will be able do that, and employees will be forced to join a union if they want to enjoy the benefits of a collective contract.

The agreements made between unions and employers will, under Labour's proposals, cover the named employees "and their positions".

The addition of the last phrase is critical. Once unions start owning the position as well as the individual, then the door is opened for the return of demarcation disputes between unions.

Of course, while Labour opens the door, the Alliance positively invites the return of such industrial action with its proposed return to blanket coverage provisions.

Industrial relations policy looms as one of the key areas of choice for voters this election.

I believe Labour have made a serious misjudgment. New Zealanders value their own freedom and will not surrender it willingly.

Yesterday's winner and a new competition. upton-on-line's first competition, yesterday, was a runaway success. The rules for the competition were not as explicit as they could have been, and the
Foreign Affairs adviser in my office, Mr Simon Draper, was the first to reply. He ran away with the prize.

Mindful of the disappointment suffered by the hundreds of unsuccessful contestants, upton-on-line has decided to follow up with a second competition.

[pic of bridge]

Contestants must name the bridge pictured above, and state (in years) how long it took to be constructed.

The prize, as it was yesterday, is a slap-up morning tea for one at Wellington's famous music and book shop, Parsons, to the value of $5*. The competition
closes 5pm, Thursday, 14 October. Correct respondents will be put in a draw to win the prize.

* The prize must be redeemed before the date of the General Election, 27 November 1999, no travel costs to Parsons or Wellington are included. Members
of Mr Upton's office, and their families, are not entitled to enter in this competition. The judge's decision is final.