ACT New Zealand Tertiary Education Spokesman Hon Heather Roy today welcomed the comments made by Andrew Little, in his final speech as National Secretary to the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union, that voluntary unionism strengthened the union movement.
These comments come as the Labour Party are planning to tonight further delay the passage of Mrs Roy’s Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill that will make membership of student associations voluntary.
“There was absolutely no equivocation in Andrew Little’s remarks; he said ‘I believe voluntary unionism - true freedom of association - gives the union movement much greater strength and a much greater moral authority.’ This is completely at odds with actions of the Labour Party who are tripping over themselves trying to keep membership of student associations compulsory,” Mrs Roy said.
“No wonder Andrew Little is touted as a future Labour leader; unlike Phil Goff he has woken up to the reality that freedom of association is not only desirable but actually gives legitimacy to organisations that voluntarily attract members.
“Membership of trade unions has been voluntary since 1991 and New Zealand has not looked back since. It is an embarrassment that students still do not have the same rights as other members of society.
“ACT has long believed that when students enrol at University they should be given the choice as to whether or not they join a student association, which is why we submitted our Bill to give students that choice. Sadly Labour has been desperate to protect the student politicians who often push their political barrow and has been delaying the Bill for two years.
“If Labour wants to remain at all relevant to the constituents it claims to represent it should immediately stop filibustering my voluntary membership Bill and agree to give students the very same freedom of association that their future leader today endorsed for workers,” Mrs Roy said.