Redundant clothing workers – NDU fails to take a fighting position

Omar Hamed and Jared Phillips
The Spark June 2009

The National Distribution Union’s (NDU) main public response to the May 15 redundancy of 186 clothing manufacturing workers employed by Lane Walker Rudkin (LWR) has been to invite workers and supporters to hold cake stalls as a fundraising activity for the redundant workers. Of LWR’s 470 staff, 102 in Christchurch, 61 in Greytown, 19 in Pahiatua, and four in Auckland have been made redundant.

LWR is New Zealand’s oldest currently-unionised company, and has operated since 1904. In recent years the company has been managed incompetently as a result of the break up in the personal relationship of Ken and Patricia Anderson, who took over the company from a group of businessmen in 2001. The bank, Westpac, won’t even release the redundancy payments. [Read more…]

Sealord works the system

Don Franks The Spark April 2009

On its website, fishing company Sealord boasts of its responsible environmental practice:

 “We are committed to harvesting the seas[sic] resources in a sustainable way and this is one of the key points of our company environmental policy. We have secure access to about 19 percent of New Zealand’s quota and have alliances or joint ventures in other countries. Wherever we operate we promote the adoption of sustainable fishing practices. In New Zealand waters we work with other fish quota holders, through fisheries management companies, to improve and monitor fishing standards, carry out research on fish stocks and find ways to reduce bycatch of mammals.” 

Sealord isn’t committed to employment sustainability. The company intends cutting 180 land-based jobs in Nelson and is not ruling out the closure of its plant there.

The Service and Food workers union estimates that a total of 500 workers could lose their jobs. The union notes that at a time when unity and collective cooperation between unions, employers and the Government is making headlines, Sealord have demanded that their employees must accept a reduction in wages to increase profits or face dismissal. 
 [Read more…]

Unions can’t cave in on migrant workers – solidarity needed

 Jared Phillips


Almost every day union leaders across different sectors make public comments and statements with which revolutionary socialists disagree. Often we publicly oppose them. Sometimes it is completely necessary to oppose them.

 In response to the economic downturn the Engineers Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) leadership has started an information campaign declaring that the recession has brought crunch-time to workers. But it’s not just crunch-time for the workers locked into the struggle for bread. It’s also crunch-time for the union leaderships. Will they stress unity and look to generalise class resistance, or will they identify less worthy sections of workers to be first on the chop-up blocks as part of a crisis-management process brokered by union bosses and ‘the’ bosses?

 On March 17 a major New Zealand newspaper – The Press – carried the headline ‘Get rid of migrant workers first: unions’, the TV1 website carried the story ‘Union: Kiwis before migrants in hard times’, and a popular weeknight current affairs show, Campbell Live, ended a segment with Andrew Little – leader of the EPMU – stating ‘We are saying that where the employer is left to choose between New Zealand workers and migrant workers on short term visas then they ought to favour New Zealand workers’.

  [Read more…]

Is capitalism heading for a meltdown?

Click here to download our special Spark supplement which analyses the crisis currently enveloping the world financial markets and asks what it might mean for workers as well as the rest of the global economy.

Fight redundancies!

Winstone Wallboards, a division of the Fletcher Building empire and the manufacturer of GIB plasterboards has told unions that they want to cut back their Penrose, Auckland operation from four shifts to three, resulting in redundancies. The unions issued the following statement in response:

[Read more…]