Talk given by Daphna Whitmore at a candidates’ forum in Otahuhu, Auckland 28 October 2008
Thank you for the invitation to speak at tonight’s meeting. I’m a list candidate and also standing in this electorate.
Our party has no ties to religion, we consider religion is a private affair and should be separate from the state. Having said that, the theme tune of our election campaign is the hymn All things Bright and Beautiful.
Don Franks, who is our candidate in Wellington Central wrote some new lyrics to reflect our outlook.
All things bright and beautiful in every shopping mall
All the goods and services- the workers made them all
We sell our labour power for a bare subsistence wage
While bosses loll in luxury its time to turn the page!
Workers of all countries in lands both great and small
This earth and all we’ve made of it let us reclaim it all
This election our party has one central message: that workers should be running the country.
We start from the premise that workers make all the goods and services in society - the cars, the roads, food, houses, and so on,but that most of the wealth created ends up as profit in the hands of the employers.
I don’t need to tell you that poverty is a real issue in New Zealand, in South Auckland we have plenty of evidence close at hand.
Under a Labour government we have 200,000 children living in poverty and 100,000 people on the minimum wage - a poverty wage. Around 80,000 people underemployed, and can’t get enough hours of work each week.
National governments are just as callous, in fact more so.
And we know that what’s around the corner is more unemployment and greater poverty, because there is mayhem on the world markets. Not only will people be out of work, but many who manage to hang on to their jobs will have fewer hours of work. They will find that they won’t be eligible for Working for Families. Thousands more will fall into the ranks of the poor.
Labour has kept the benefit cuts that National brought in back in 1991.What a barbaric system capitalism is, that it does not guarantee something as basic as full time work.
With the housing bubble bursting it is expected that soon 130,000 people will have negative equity in their homes. Average house in NZ costs 6 times annual income. Isn’t it shocking that something as basic as housing is a real struggle for so many people?
All these problems will be with us for as long as capitalism is around.
Our basic platform is
1. Opposition to imperialism: that is why I didn’t stand when you sang the national anthem at the beginning of the meeting. I don’t believe that NZ nationalism is progressive. NZ should not have sent frigates to the Middle East, NZ should not have forces in Afghanistan, and should not be part of any military adventures abroad.
2. We are for secure jobs for all with a living wage and a shorter working week. But we know that with more unemployment and low wages people with jobs will be working longer hours. For instance, security guards on average are paid $13 an hour - they have to work 60 hours a week to make a living wage. Labour has said it will keep the minimum wage at 50% of the average wage. That’s a poverty wage. The Council of Trade Union is calling for the minimum wage to be two-thirds of the average wage. That would be $16.30 a livable wage. Labour will increase the minimum wage by the rate of CPI - so it’ll rise next March to about $12.50. Still a poverty wage. National won’t even do that.
3. We are for the unrestricted rights for workers to organise, strike, speak and publish.
Without that workers’ ability to organise for better conditions is severely hampered.
4. We are for full equality for women, Maori and other ethnic minorities, migrant workers and people of all sexual orientations and identities.
Everyone has a family member or knows someone who is gay. We believe that full equality is the only humane stance. That’s why we oppose immigration controls. We are for open borders. The rich can live in any country, the doors are open to them. For the poor the doors are only open when employers want more cheap labour.
In the future people will consider it barbaric that people in need were thrown out of countries. Just as the Dawn Raids for the 1970s are recognised as an appalling episode in NZ’s history, we should oppose the raids and deportations that go on today.
These days many people feel cynical and doubt whether there is an alternative to capitalism. The Workers Party aim is to help build up the strength of the organised working class. That means, for example, a rise from the present low level of a 20 percent unionised workforce. It means having some MPs who are totally on the side of the working class in every situation. All our candidates have pledged to take no more than an average workers wage if elected ,and will use all their resources to help support, and initiate workers’ struggles for wages, jobs and freedom.
Finally, the Workers Party doesn’t just want your vote, we want people to get involved.
History has shown that when people act collectively great change is possible.