||Issue No. 326||29 September 2006|
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Howard Blesses His Brethren
Unions have welcomed a statement by NZ's Labour Minister Ruth Dyson that the government will review the Brethren's exemption from laws allowing unions into workplaces.
Businesses owned by Exclusive Brethren in New Zealand have special status in regard to union access on the grounds they "conscientiously object" to unionism.
But the law was outdated and employees had a right to receive information, regardless of the religion of their employers, said Andrew Little, national secretary of the NZ Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
In 2004, the union clashed with an Exclusive Brethren business which threatened to sack workers who spoke in their native languages in the tea-room.
That business then barred access to union officials who tried to contact the workers, Little said.
In Australia, the Howard Government has introduced special laws to allow Exclusive Brethren businesses to ban unions from their businesses.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that since 2002 every one of the more than 30 employers who claimed a "conscientious objection" exemption to union access belonged to the Exclusive Brethren.
The sect, which has 40,000 members based mostly in New Zealand and Australia, doesn't allow its members to access media, vote or wear shorts. But it has been linked with dirty campaigns here and across the Tasman against left-wing political parties.
Prime Minster John Howard has admitted to meeting with members of the sect, which has been accused of running smear campaigns against the Greens, and was recently implicated in malicious rumour-mongering against New Zealand's Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark and her husband.
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