Vote Matt McCarten for Mana

November 3, 2010

Workers Party leaflet

The Workers Party is backing Matt McCarten in the Mana By Election because he’s a genuine working class fighter.

Matt McCarten, leader of Unite union, has hands-on experience promoting workers’ rights. That is a rare thing in politics these days, where parliament is awash with bland, middle-class liberals.

Since founding Unite union in 2003 Matt has been a prominent figure in campaigns for low paid casualised workers. He has shown an absolute commitment to that cause. Read the rest of this entry »

Why unions should not be affiliated to the NZ Labour Party

November 3, 2010

The Spark November 2010

This is a follow-up to the article in the last issue of The Spark where we welcomed the decision of the Victorian Electrical Trades Union to disaffiliate from the Australian Labour Party. This article looks at the problem of union affiliation to the NZ Labour Party; it is drawn mainly from our pamphlet, Labour: a bosses’ party.

Before the fourth Labour government, much of the blue-collar union movement was affiliated to the Labour Party. Since then however, very few unions have remained affiliated. The two main unions keeping the formal ties to Labour are the EPMU (Engineering, Printing, Manufacturing Union) and the SFWU (Service and Food Workers Union). In recent years, in particular since the collapse of the left social-democratic Alliance Party, several small unions (Rail and Maritime Transport, Dairy Workers and Maritime Union) have reaffiliated.

NORMAN KIRK : 6 February 1973

The main argument put forward by union leaders supporting affiliation is basically that it is better to be in the tent exerting influence on Labour policy than outside it simply opposing policy.

However, this argument is deeply flawed, as can be seen by looking at the actual history of union involvement in the Labour Party.

In 1918 there were 72 affiliated unions and just 11 party branches. In the 1919 general election, nine Labour candidates won seats, eight of them being active unionists. In 1938 three quarters of all union members were affiliated to the Labour Party; by 1971 it had fallen to just one half. Read the rest of this entry »


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