Talk given by Workers Party Manukau East candidate Daphna Whitmore at an election meeting at Otahuhu College, Auckland 29 October 2008
I want to talk about law and order and police in South Auckland. The Workers Party believe we need fewer cops, not more cops as most of the parties are saying.
I work for a union that is organising worksites such as McDonalds.
For the past month McDonald’s workers have taking strike action. There have been over 40 strikes in the past 30 days. These McDonald’s staff work hard; they are on their feet all day and get just over $12 hour. It’s a poverty wage and the hours of work are uncertain, going up and down each week.
McDonald’s workers at Auckland Airport went on strike a couple of weeks ago. It was a perfectly legal strike and they stood outside in the carpark to hold a peaceful picket. But the security bosses at the airport tried to stop the strikers and called the cops who were there in minutes.
The police said the airport was private property and the strikers had to get off airport land or they would arrest everyone. Now they didn’t just mean get out from the carpark - airport property extends out about 4km. That would mean a pretty big walk for the strikers.
The cops were way out of line. For a start the airport is part publicly owned (both Auckland City and Manukau City have shares in the airport) and of course the airport is a public access area.
These McDonalds workers were staunch, they were not fazed and carried on their strike for the next 8 hours. They went on a roving march and moved on later to hold pickets outside Mangere’s Bader Dr McDonald’s store and Greenlane McDonald’s where they were joined by workers from those stores.
A few days later they had another strike and picket at the airport and the airport company backed down accepting their right to demonstrate.
As a union organiser I’ve seen time and again that the police will rush out whenever an employer calls them. If you are burgled they won’t come to your home. The Police don’t protect working class people, they protect the rich; they protect employers.
These strikers at McDonald’s stood their ground and forced the company to back down.
They showed that if you stand up for your rights you can make a difference.
That’s what the Workers Party is about; we are about standing up for rights.
Our message is don’t just vote, join the party and to get involved.