Christchurch’s housing crisis

June 28, 2012

Kelly Pope

On Saturday 26th May, protesters gathered outside earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee’s Ilam electorate office to draw attention to the housing crisis faced by many Canterbury residents. Occupy Christchurch activists involved in organising the action decided to hold the demonstration over the weekend, as electorate office staff could not give a time in the foreseeable future when Brownlee would be in his office to meet with residents regarding their concerns. This came as no surprise to protest organisers, as Brownlee had recently publicly denied the existence of a housing crisis in Christchurch. He has claimed that while individuals may be experiencing housing issues, there is no widespread or systemic problem with provision and availability of shelter in the city.

Illustrating that this is clearly not the case, protesters shared their own personal stories over the megaphone of homelessness, hosting displaced friends and family, and finding themselves unable to stay in their homes, not because of earthquake damage, but as a result of rent raises making accommodation unaffordable to families on low pay. Read the rest of this entry »

Solidarity around the country

March 27, 2012

Lyttelton picket

Kelly Pope

Support for the striking Ports of Auckland workers has been evident in Christchurch and across the country this last month. On the 7th of March port workers in Lyttelton refused to unload the ship the Lisa Schulte which had been worked on by non-union workers in Auckland, following similar action by Wellington and Tauranga port workers. Around a hundred and fifty workers planned to boycott the ship in solidarity with Auckland workers and did so until that night.

In response to the action by staff, Lyttelton Port Company filed for an injunction to prevent workers from continuing to boycott the ship and the case was heard on the day. As solidarity strikes remain illegal, the court ordered workers on the picket line to resume work unloading the ship or face penalties which could include fines and imprisonment.

Workers remained on the picket line while the court case was attended by union organisers. In the evening a group of around thirty people marched down Lyttelton’s main street to the wharves in a display of support for the port workers challenging the anti-strike laws and drawing attention to the struggles of Auckland workers.

While the group, including representatives from a number of unions and political activists, were at the wharves, Libby Carr, secretary of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union arrived from the court hearing. Though bringing the news of the ruling, she told those present that the workers would be heartened to hear of the support from the community and invited people to continue supporting the workers by attending the stopwork meeting for RMT and MUNZ union members the following day.

Thousands protest against Christchurch City Council CEO’s pay rise

March 12, 2012

Kelly Pope is a Workers Party member in Christchurch who took part in the February protest for democracy in Christchurch. On our website we’ve already published a smaller article about the protest which was also written by Kelly.

One of the largest protests Christchurch has seen in the past decade took place on February 1 in response to lack of democracy and transparency within the Christchurch City Council. News sources estimate that up to 4000 people attended the midday demonstration held at the site next to the council offices where the St Elmo Courts building stood prior to earthquake damage and demolition. Protest organisers arranged for music to be played from the temporary stage and speaker set-up from 10am, and many people arrived early, having lunch in the empty lot.

When the protest got underway, people expressed their outrage, calling for the resignation of Mayor Bob Parker and council CEO Tony Marryatt as well as Autumn elections to select new council representatives. From the middle of the space where people gathered it was impossible to tell how far back the crowd stretched in any direction. A large number of people held banners and signs and the frustration was audible as people chanted and cheered. Read the rest of this entry »

Thousands Protest against Chch City Council

February 1, 2012

Get rid of the Bob and Tony ShowApproximately 2,000 people turned out to protest at the Christchurch City Council offices today, angry at a $68,000 pay rise for City Council CEO Tony Marryatt, taking his annual salary to over half a million (Christchurch average wage, $47,000pa). After enormous pressure from the public Marryatt has turned down the pay rise, after initially accepting it, but the protest incorporated a number of issues relating to democracy and transparency in local government.


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