When the National Affiliates Council of the Council of Trade Unions gathers in Auckland on Thursday some hard choices must be made. The Herald is reporting the gathering as a 'war council' and certainly many affiliates, especially private sector unions like Unite and the EPMU will push for a bold response to these latest attacks.
Most readers of this blog will be familiar with war councils from the first film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy when Frodo, the small but brave hobbit volunteers at the Council of Elrond in Rivendell to take the ring to Mt. Doom and throw it into the fire. He and the hobbits can't do it themselves though, they need the strength and protection of the dwarf Gimli, the elf Legolas, Boromir and the warrior king Aragorn. In the end the fellowship of nine is completed, led by the wise Gandalf.
On Thursday the unions will meet and the big public sector unions and some of the more conservative Labour Party affiliated blue-collar unions will be faced with a choice- fight these attacks and hope that union solidarity and power can defeat them or refuse to mobilise, and make just token and minor efforts to support the campaign. There are rumours that the CTU leadership and unions such as the PSA are pushing for a conservative approach to these attacks, a la the 1991 sell out. Will the bosses of the big unions turn their backs on low paid workers or rise to the occasion? As the Key Government steps up its attacks on workers and brave but small unions look to the bigger unions to support they would do well to remember the words of Gandalf to the council in Rivendell:
"Do you not understand that while we bicker amongst ourselves, Sauron's power grows?! None can escape it! You'll all be destroyed!"