Prime Minister John Key has taken issue with 'business friendly' Andrew Little being national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) and President of the Labour Party, suggesting that Little has 'a conflict of interest'.

It's hard to see what 'conflict of interest' Key is referring to here, since the EPMU have always been a supporter of the Labour Party. Indeed during the term of the Clark Government Little and the EPMU did more than their share of suppressing industrial unrest that would be of been of embarrassment to Labour.

What is of more interest is Little's ludicrous suggestion that John Key is trying to gag him as 'a possible critic of the government'.

Being criticised by the ineffectual Little would not altogether be dissimilar from being hit on the head by a feather.

Let's look at some of Andy Pandy's critical efforts.

When Telecom announced in February that it was exporting 250 call centre jobs to the Philippines. Little's only response was to say that he had heard 'mixed stories' about working conditions in the Philippines and that it was 'dodgy' for Telecom to take advantage of Philippine workers.

Andrew Little also had a lot of nothing to say when Fisher and Paykel said it was going to close its Mosgiel plant in 2007.

With over 400 workers losing their jobs Little's hopeless response was to say that he expected 'companies the size of Fisher and Paykel to work hard to keep jobs here.'

But there were more more lame words from the new Labour Party president. He warned Fisher and Paykel that he might just have to look to 'the international trades union movement for info and advice about conditions in Mexico and measuring conditions there against conditions here.'

We never did find out whether Little did contact the 'international trades union movement' but later he was complaining that he hadn't been 'consulted' about the redundancies.

When one aggrieved Fisher and Paykel worker tried to find out why the EPMU (who took his union dues, thanks very much) did not organise industrial action he was told by an EPMU functionary that it wasn't considered 'appropriate' and that it 'wouldn't achieve anything'.

Just a week or so ago Little said he was 'disappointed' that ninety TVNZ workers were going to lose their jobs. Was he and the EPMU going to do anything about it? Of course not. But next week - watch out, John Key - Andrew Little might be 'concerned'. Gosh, he might even release another press statement.

Little consistently betrays the very people he pretends to represent but then he has the absolute gall to say that he is 'championing' the rights of workers.

This is what he said last week (Mar 19)

'There is no question in my mind that when it comes to issues about jobs, about employment rights, about productivity in the workplace my advocacy for that is solely about what is good for workers and I see no conflict there.'

Having experienced Little and the EPMU's disgraceful behaviour first hand, the sacked workers at Air New Zealand, Fisher and Paykel, Fairfax, and TVNZ to name just four companies, would probably like to tell Little that he can stick his 'advocacy' where the sun don't shine.

With friends like Andrew Little who needs enemies?


  1. Andrew Little has also recently opposed moves to allow cash strapped international students to get part time jobs.

    This man is not a friend of the working class at all. Reminds me of the AFL leaders who used to not let black folks into their union.


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