Smash the CMP lockout: Fund established, give money now!

Around 100 meat workers in Rangatikei – a provincial township in the Manawatu area – were locked out by Canterbury Meat Packers (CMP) ten days ago.

According to a CTU release the company is attempting to require the union (New Zealand Meat Workers Union)  to sign up to a 20-30% wage decrease before any return to work. We also understand that the company is trying to disestablish the 35-hour week and increase the weekly hours of work per employee.

Traditionally the meat industry has contained a powerful section of the workers movement in New Zealand. Because of this the bosses have consciously attacked meat industry employment conditions over the past few decades. Generally the meat industry has been an area in which militant workers and some sections of the left have worked hard to extend and uphold conditions. The 35-hour week (which is particularly important in the meat industry given the physical demand of the work) is an example of these efforts.

The CMP bosses announced record profits last year. This is obviously a strategic attack. By maintaining the lockout they appear to be ‘digging in’.

Workers shirts read 'Sit on this CMP'. This is an important dispute for all industrial and low-paid workers in New Zealand. (Photo taken from Manawatu Standard online)

The bosses cannot be allowed to win as this would make a precedent for further attacks on the working class particularly in the meat industry.

 Unions are encouraging local and Wellington people to attend the week-day picket line and give donations of food and supplies. Additional picket line infrastructure is also required such as trailers, gazebos, etc.

 The CTU has set up a dispute fund for contributions. The account number is 38-9007-0894028-08.

Initially Workers Party  has donated $200 and members will be collecting, including amongst dairy industry workers in Hamilton and at Occupy Wellington. We pledge to increase our donation to a modest $500 over the next few days.  We also urge all New Zealand readers of this website who are in comfortable employment to donate the equivalent of one day’s pay.

Occupied Dominion Post: letter to the editor

Originally printed in Issue 2 of the Occupied Dominion Post, publication by members of Occupy Wellington.

A recent (Unoccupied) Dominion Post opinion poll presented readers with the choices of supporting Occupy Wellington, or agreeing that “they need to get jobs.” Coupled with generally unsympathetic coverage from the capitalist press, this raised the hackles of some occupiers. At the Occupy Wellington Labour Day march, occupiers carried placard stating “I have a job and an occupation” or “I have two jobs, university and an occupation” – variations on the placard “I lost my job, found an occupation.”

The Occupy Together movement draws in supporters from diverse backgrounds, with a range of employment situations. Many of the core organisers have other commitments, including work and study. Those with full-time work and families may not have the time or energy for urban camping – so they support the movement by donating food or resources, by organising workshops, by coming to General Assemblies. This movement is a broad church.

More to the point, unemployment is a product of the system Occupy Together collectively challenges. Capitalism requires a reserve army of labour, a pool of unemployed workers to keep the labour market competitive. Under neoliberalism – the late stage of capitalism typified by cuts, privatisations and “free market” reform – structural unemployment is used to keep wages down.

The Alister Barry documentary In A Land of Plenty explores how during neoliberal reform, the Reserve Bank used interest rates as a way of keeping unemployment high – and wages low. Suzanne Snivelly, member of the Reserve Bank Board of Directors during the crucial reform period of 1985-1992 states:
“It was a manageable thing for the Reserve Bank to use employment, and unemployment, as the way to get wages down. It was far easier than any other means of getting inflation down. So they used it.”

By demonising occupiers as unemployed layabouts, the DomPost conveniently misses the point: whether or employed or unemployed, we have valid grievances. Capitalists attack the class as a whole – declining real wages, structural unemployment and benefit cuts are all part of the same package. We must counter these attacks with solidarity, unity and inclusiveness. From factory floors, to desks, to WINZ offices – we are the 99%.

-Ian

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