When workers rights are under attack – Stand Up, Fight Back!

July 17, 2010

Alastair Reith

The rights of every worker in this country are under attack.

90 Day Fire at Will and Union Access Leaflet

Protest outside the National Party conference  at Sky City Hotel (Main entrance 72 Victoria Street West, Auckland City) on Sunday 18th July 10am

The National Government has just announced a number of significant changes to the Employment Relations Act. There are five major changes:

1: The 90 day legislation will be extended to workplaces with less than 50 staff, and probably to all workplaces soon afterwards. These laws let the boss fire you for whatever reason he likes in the first 90 days, and you can’t take out a personal grievance. Basically, you can get fired for nothing and there’s nothing you can do.

2: The right of union organisers to access the workplace will be severely restricted on unionised sites. And on sites that do not already have a well established trade union, the boss may be able to prevent the union from even coming through the doors. This is an authoritarian and undemocratic move which will make it much harder for workers to organise and fight for their rights.

3: EREL Education and Training Leave for Delegates and Members is to be abolished. This prevents union members from coming together and planning with each other how to win a better deal for everybody. Union members will now be punished for taking part in union conferences, with the new laws forcing them to take time out of the few weeks of annual leave they get.

The Holidays Act is to be changed, with the fourth weeks holiday being sold. This leaves workers with very little time in the year to enjoy time off work with their families, or to travel or just relax. The politicians will try and justify this by saying workers are offered a choice, but in practice what this means is that the boss can pick and choose whether to allow more than three weeks holiday, and if you don’t like it? Well, you’ll be fired within 90 days! This will be especially true on non-unionised sites where workers have no protection.

5: Bargaining Agents will be able to take the place of Unions in Collective Contract Negotiations. This will give more power to “yellow” company unions and will allow bosses to exclude unions entirely in favour of professional corporate law firms Read the rest of this entry »

Does New Zealand need a population policy for the benefit of the environment?

July 17, 2010

This talk was originally given by Byron Clark at Marxism 2010, as part of a debate with John Robinson, a former academic who has researched and written on rising population.

A Few people here may be familiar with the enviornmental sociologist Allen Schnaiberg, Schnaiberg is the co-author of The Treadmill of Production: Injustice and Unsustainability in the Global Economy and a number of other works, tomorrow [June 6th] is the one year anniversary of his death and I would like to acknowledge the contributions he made to radical theory about society and the environment. Schnaiberg coined the term ‘populationism’ to describe the various movements aiming for a reduction in population, and wrote in his 1980 book ‘The Environment from Surplus to Scarcity’ that populationism is a social ideology that attributes social ills to the number of humans. While agreeing that there is of course a limit to the number of people the planet can hold, modern populationism and its historical precedents, says Schnaiberg are regressive, reactionary, and at times racist.

I’m going to talk about how the environmental destruction we are witnessing today, notably climate change, is not something we can attribute to ‘to many humans’ but something we can attribute to our social and economic system. Because of this, New Zealand does not need a population policy to benefit the environment, but can, with the right type of social change, sustain a much larger population.

Read the rest of this entry »


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