Pay up Pak ‘n Save

Pak ‘n Save workers at Lincoln Road in Auckland held a picket today as part of their campaign to get an improved contract. The site was unionised last year by the NDU and the collective agreement is up for renewal.pak-n-save-nov-08-005
pak-n-save-nov-08-010
The supermarket is one of the largest and most profitable in New Zealand. The tooting from the public was deafening. Car loads of police arrived and tried to tell the union they couldn’t hold their picket – despite it being entirely peaceful and lawful.

The company has tried to issue trespass orders against union officials. The union officials have refused to accept the notices which cannot supersede union access rights.

The reign of Helen Clark

- Daphna Whitmore
The Spark
December 2008 – January 2009

The end was swift. Stepping down on election night Helen Clark ended 16 years as the Labour Party’s leader and nine years as Prime Minister. As Labour’s longest serving head, she was one of its most capable and helped shape the organisation into an urban liberal capitalist party.

Clark personified the new type of Labour politician. She came from a middle class farming background and was university educated. She studied politics and lectured for a few years at Auckland University, then headed straight to parliament in 1981.

In 1984 Labour won the elections and launched Rogernomics. There was not a peep of opposition to this rabidly neo-liberal programme from Clark. Later on she would try to distance herself from that period but as David Lange once quipped, Clark “was so dry she was combustible”. According to Michael Basset, who was a minister in that government, Clark begged Roger Douglas to return to the finance minister’s role in January 1990 when the party was rife with internal divisions over Rogernomics.

[Read more...]

Newtown public meeting

national-govt-meeting

Population is not the problem!

-Mike Kay

The Green Party has caused some controversy recently by releasing its Population Policy for New Zealand just prior to the election. The Greens estimate the maximum population that Aotearoa can sustain at 5.7 million. In order that we do not exceed this figure, they propose policies including: “initiatives to raise awareness amongst parents and potential parents regarding the issue of sustainable global population levels.”

They also propose to “regularly review NZ’s immigration policy to ensure that we are retaining capacity to absorb climate change refugees and returning NZ citizens.”

It seems strange that the Greens should have made this an issue in a country that is sparsely populated with an ageing population. But in today’s political discourse, “sustainability” is becoming an essential green veneer to reactionary measures such as immigration controls and restricting working class people’s consumption.

[Read more...]

Marx in the 21st century

Talk given by Tim Bowron at a public forum at the Christchurch WEA in November 2008 organised by the Workers Party.

karl_marx

It seems as though these days the only time you are likely to hear the name of Karl Marx mentioned is when he is being dismissed as the proponent of some outlandish utopian ideology which had marginal relevance in nineteenth century Europe but none at all now (the view of most standard history texts) or as a the prophet of capitalist globalisation who also had some rather funny ideas about workers and exploitation with which we need not concern ourselves too much (the view of more sophisticated bourgeois pundits such as the writers for The Economist).

It is indeed true that the idea that the working class of which Marx wrote so volubly is rapidly vanishing from the stage of history has some material basis (at least in first world countries like New Zealand).  However while the number of workers directly engaged in the creation of surplus value in areas such as manufacturing and raw material extraction has certainly decreased in New Zealand over the past few decades, the amount of exploitation i.e. the mass of surplus value created by workers in these sectors and expropriated by the capitalists has not.

In addition, although the largest occupational group as measured in the 2006 New Zealand census were labelled as “professionals” (18.85%) followed by “managers” (17.14%), the relationship of these individuals to the means of production is clearly shown in the “status in employment” category where we learn that over 75% of the population are still dependent on selling their labour power in order to earn a living.

The real problem here then is not the absence of class but rather the collapse of working class consciousness (such that a supermarket checkout supervisor may now well consider themselves a “manager”, and various politicians can proclaim that we are “all middle class now”).

[Read more...]

Go Harvey Norman, go!

Retailing billionaire Gerry Harvey has lamented that Australian charity is being wasted on “no-hopers”. Asked in a new book about his community role, Mr Harvey said giving to people who “are not putting anything back into the community” is like “helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason”.

A whole heap of no-hoper homeless
Why  on earth should we help them survive?
They don’t buy our chairs or appliances
When their dole payments arrive
Even if we display them on special
The homeless won’t buy a tv
They say they’ve got nowhere to plug the thing in
They’re plainly not like you and me.
They don’t have 600 race horses
Or a hundred and sixty odd stores
Or a fortune of one point six billion
And they’re probably covered in sores.
Survival should be for the fittest
Those who get up and get to the goal
Like the beast in the depths of a jungle drought
Who governs the water hole.

Don Franks

Support Hamilton’s locked out bus drivers

The Hamilton bus company Go Bus has locked out 50 drivers after they took strike action for 24 hours, and were planning a fare strike on return to work.1338

 Fare strikes have seldom been used in New Zealand, but they are a creative form of industrial action that can build public support while putting direct economic pressure on the company.

 The company imposed a lockout once it heard a fare strike was likely and has kept the workers locked out despite the drivers withdrawing their notice of a fare strike. The drivers are paid $13.50 an hour and are seeking an increase to $16 an hour.we-want-a-living-wage

 The drivers’ pay is well below a living wage. The Council of Trade Unions is advocating a minimum wage of $16.30, as that is two-thirds of the average wage.

 Support the locked out bus drivers: gather at the Transport Centre in Hamilton at 9.30am Monday 24 November.

Workers’ Farmers Parade

Several hundred Farmers workers marched up Queen St in Auckland today in a protest parade. They are angry at the company’s offer of a 20 cent an hour pay increase. Their union, the NDU, timed the protest a week before the official annual Farmers Xmas Parade.rat-at-farmers-demo-002

On the march were representatives from several unions. A group of striking workers from McDonald’s stores joined the parade in an act of solidarity. Unite union has had nearly 50 strikes in McDonald’s stores for better pay and conditions. Unite’s 20 foot rat was an eyecatching float on the parade.

Cleaners get a dirty deal

- Laurie Garnett

When the Contracts Act was repealed in 2000 it was hoped that not only would collective bargaining flourish, but multi-employer agreements (MECAs) would be rebuilt.

But with strikes outlawed except around bargaining, collective agreements can be a device for employers to lockdown wages and prevent strikes for years on end. A multi-employer agreement can do that too on a big scale.

[Read more...]

Silence of the Lambs

- Don Franks

Before the election, NZCTU President Helen Kelly had much to say about the two main parties. On April 13th she told the Labour Party Congress:

“Working people have been given the chance to get back on their feet with this government. This is not just because of good policies. It is because we have a Government made up of people who care about workers, who understand the difficulties they face, and who try to make things better.”

Kelly was not ­ quite – absolutely obsequious in her praise of Labour, adding:

“Of course this does not mean that we live in paradise! There is more to do. And workers are really feeling the pinch at the moment with high food prices, rising petrol costs and high rents and mortgage payments.”

Then, even this mild admonition was hastily qualified into nothingness, with the soothing:

“So we need more change and with the continuation of a Labour led government we know that will happen. Labour is the Government with a proven record of change for the better and we need more of it.”

And, after the vision of heaven ­ the warning of hell:

“We have seen National’s industrial relations policy and it is dramatic and will have a major negative impact on working people.”

“National’s plans for industrial relations are the same as in 1991″.

Just before I began writing this, I took a look at the NZ Council of Trade unions website, to see if there was any comment on the election result. Still, after two weeks, not a peep. As we supposedly teeter on the brink of another 1991! It would seem that if National’s plans for industrial relations are really the same as in 1991, so too are the plans of the CTU. Determined inertia. Remember when the top leaders refused to take up calls for a general strike to defeat National’s Employment Contracts Act?

If National is poised for launching a major negative impact on working people, wouldn’t it be the task of union leaders to start rallying and mobilising opposition from day one?

[Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 875 other followers