The holiday sell-out

April 26, 2009

Daphna Whitmore
The Spark May 2009

 Compared to most western countries, New Zealand workers have pretty meagre holidays. An international survey published April 2009 ( found that New Zealand workers have fewer holidays than many other Western countries. The gap is likely to widen with a new law proposed by the government. The Nats want workers to be able to cash up their fourth week’s holiday each year. Currently, holidays must be taken as time off work and cannot be swapped for money.  According to the Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson, “surveys show most workers only take three weeks’ leave each year, so if they want to trade in that fourth week and their employer agrees then it’s a win-win.”

Yeah right. Read the rest of this entry »

“Equal rights for migrants”

April 25, 2009

In a very encouraging development amidst the recent nationalist statements made by some union leaders, over 100 migrant workers, unionists and migrant advocates met in Auckland in April to discuss the way forward.

 Dennis Maga spoke on behalf of Migrante Aotearoa, a trade union-supported project that actively defends migrant workers. He discussed two widely-reported cases where employers had made dozens of workers redundant, but retained migrants on work permits. Migrante is concerned that the right wing backlash unleashed in the wake of such cases could further marginalise migrants, and in future, migrant workers may be prioritised for redundancy. Read the rest of this entry »

This is no alternative? Partnership or struggle

April 23, 2009

There Is No Alternative?

A Workers Response to the Financial Crisis

A teach-in organised by the Workers Rights Campaign

Saturday May 2nd


Canterbury WEA, 59 Gloucester Street

Read the rest of this entry »

Christchurch event: NZ Imperialism

April 21, 2009


From Deir Yassin 1948 to Gaza 2009

April 19, 2009

Justice for Palestine held a rally in central Christchurch on 18 April to mark the 61st anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre and the bloody beginnings of the Israeli state, which culminated in the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their land and the start of 60 brutal years of oppression at the hands of Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Naval dockyard strike vote

April 18, 2009
Workers at the naval dockyard at Devonport voted for strike action at a meeting on Thursday by 108 votes to five. They rejected a pay offer from their employer, VT Fitzroy that included a lump sum payment with no less than five separate conditions attached to it.    The unions on site - EPMU, PSA and AWUNZ - are claiming a 4.5% pay increase and restoration of the confined space allowance, which they had lost years back.

Solidarity to support the locked out workers at Synovate

April 13, 2009

In solidarity with Auckland, Unite union Wellington members, volunteers and supporters will picket the Ministry of Social Development, who contract out their call centres to Synovate. Synovate have illegally locked out their workers in negotiations over pay.

The picket will take place at noon, Tuesday April 14th. Please support this worthwhile action if you can


Over 30 market research call centre workers in Auckland, who are members of the Unite Union have been illegally locked out on Easter Friday by their employer, British multi-national corporation, Synovate. image070The corporation’s New Zealand managers were instructed by their British senior managers to lock-out the New Zealand workforce after they turned down a pay offer of a measly 20 cents an hour. 

The company locked the workers out and padlocked the front entrance of the building. The managers put up a notice telling the non union workers to sneak in by the back door. In response to this  Union officials and members added their own locks to the front door and used cars and locks to block all other entrances to the building.

Locked in

Locked in

This effectively locked the bosses inside for two hours until the union allowed one car to be moved to allow delegates to enter the building to continue the negotiations

Almost all the employees are paid the minimum wage. Yet Synovate, pays their workers in Australia $22 an hour for the same work and increased their wages by 3.5% in January. After six months of negotiations their New Zealand workers are being told that they will stay locked out until they accept Synovate’s 20 cents an hour offer with possibly of another 15 cents an hour in 6 months. 

Like hundreds of other call centre workers the Synovate workers are part of the Unite Union’s Calling for Change campaign to improve wages and conditions in Auckland call centres. Synovate workers went on hunger strike in February to draw attention to their low wages and sweatshop conditions. 

Synovate is owned by the Aegis Group based in Britain which made £89.2 million in profit last year. In New Zealand Synovate undertakes market research for Ministry of Social Development and ASB Bank.

In solidarity with Auckland, Unite union Wellington members, volunteers and supporters will picket the Ministry of Social Development.    The picket will take place at noon, Tuesday April 14th Ministry of Social Development office, Bowen State Building, Bowen St, Wellington. Please support this worthwhile action if you can.

Victory: Ali Panah gains refugee status

April 13, 2009

Rebecca Broad The Spark April 2009

Iranian asylum seeker Ali Panah won refugee status in February 2009, after a protracted and public struggle, which began in mid 2007.

Panah was part of a larger group of Iranian immigrants who came to New Zealand as either refugees or asylum seekers, who were denied residency, and locked up inside Mt Eden remand center indefinitely. Read the rest of this entry »

Sealord works the system

April 5, 2009

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 the rest of this entry »

Shorter work-hours: They say less pay, we say more pay

April 3, 2009

Jared Phillips The Spark April 2009

Resulting from the Job Summit in February, the government has now announced the introduction of the Job Support Scheme. At the time of writing, between 20-30 companies have taken up the government’s offer. Who benefits from the 9-day working fortnight?

In the past socialists have successfully fought for a shorter working week for the same pay. This has happened in the construction industry in Australia and in the meat industry in New Zealand. We need to raise these arguments again and also raise them at a higher level. Continual productivity gains make it possible for us to move to a society in which workers can consciously organise and limit the amount of time spent working while increasing their leisure time. Oppositely, under the capitalist system, the lives of the working class are organised by the rhythms of production. This is clearly the case when we look at the way hours of work are currently being re-regulated. Read the rest of this entry »


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