Not much done, lots more to do

– John Edmundson

As election day nears, you’d think it would be time for union leaders to raise workers’ needs in front of the politicians. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has released its spin on the latest statistics summarising the socioeconomic state of New Zealand in the last decade.

The CTU’s assessment of the Ministry of Social Development’s 2008 Social Report, headed “Social Report: Lots done, more to do”, could best be described as a pro-Labour spin on some pretty mixed statistics for the last decade, a period dominated by the Clark Labour government.

“The social wellbeing of New Zealanders has improved since the 1990s with most social indicators moving in the right direction,” enthused CTU vice president Maori Sharon Clair. “Clearly there is more to be done. Low wages are still holding back the country, and 13% of households in poverty is 13% too many. In many indicators the trends are good, however,” Clair said.

Of course, she is right, in a “lies, damned lies and statistics” sort of way. But what does “most” social indicators actually mean? A look at the actual report reveals a much less praiseworthy result than the CTU spin would suggest. I encourage anyone interested to go to http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz and make their own assessment of it.

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Solidarity needed during strikes

Press release

Criticisms of the junior doctors’ strike by Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly are ill timed and highly questionable, says Workers Party national organiser Daphna Whitmore. “Traditionally unions extend solidarity during strike action, not issue public condemnation”.

“Medical staff do not take strike action lightly, and the doctors have been negotiating since May 2007 for renewal of their employment agreement” she said.

“With severe doctor shortages in the public health sector it is not surprising the doctors are taking action” she said. “The CTU would do better to criticise the government for failing to resolve the problems in the health system.”

All life preserving services have been maintained during strike action.

CONTACT: Daphna Whitmore 0294949865 wpnz(at)clear.net.nz