New Zealand government’s RSE scheme: “Brutal racist oppression”

June 14, 2009

By Don Franks

In a press release on 4 June 2009 the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions deplored the Government’s removal of the minimum wage protection for workers on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

“There have been significant examples of unauthorised and unfair deductions from RSE workers’ pay even under the existing regulations,” said Wagstaff. “Relaxing the minimum wage rule will only result in more blatant exploitation of already vulnerable workers as unscrupulous employers shift costs onto them.”

“Allowing employers to make deductions which will reduce pay rates below the minimum of $12.50 per hour will significantly increase exploitation of RSE workers and undermine the credibility of the scheme”, said CTU Vice-President Richard Wagstaff.

Richard Wagstaff is dead right about the exploitation, but from a workers point of view, RSE has no credibility to be undermined.

The New Zealand Labour Department says:

“The RSE scheme facilitates the temporary entry of overseas workers, mainly from the Pacific, to plant, maintain, harvest and pack crops in the horticulture and viticulture industries to meet labour shortages in order to remain competitive with the rest of the world.” Read the rest of this entry »


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 (www.expedia.com) 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 »


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

1-00pm

Canterbury WEA, 59 Gloucester Street

Read the rest of this entry »


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.


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 »


Picket against new “Fire-at-Will” law in Christchurch

February 26, 2009

dalek

Press Release: Workers Rights Campaign

Canterbury’s newly-formed Workers Rights Campaign is planning a symbolic picket at the offices of Government M.P. Nicola Wagner to protest at the new “fire-at-will” provisions of New Zealand’s industrial law.

Campaign spokesman Paul Piesse said today that the justification for the new law, which allows employers to sack workers within the first three months of their employment without giving any reason at all, let alone any justification, is a hypocritical sham.

The big lie, Mr Piesse said, is the deceit that the law would encourage employers to take on people they otherwise would not. Employers, he said, only ever employ people when they really need them. Their objective is to maximise their profits - they don’t function as a social service to the unemployed.

Neither do they engage the least appealing applicant; and nor will they because of the new law.

The Workers Rights Campaign says that the law is a breach of civil rights, in that it discriminates against a specific group of citizens - job applicants - distinguishing them from those already employed.

Mr Piesse added that the law is aimed at the most vulnerable: the young; casual and part time workers; those made redundant from their previous employment - likely to be a rapidly increasing number of New Zealanders; anyone changing jobs; and older workers.
The Workers Rights Campaign will picket the premises of any employer availing him/herself of this contemptible new law when it is brought to its attention.

Mr Piesse said that the new law was just the start of an employer-Government campaign to make working people pay the price of the inevitable and cyclic crisis of the capitalist system.

The picket at Wagner’s office, 189 Montreal St Christchurch, will take place on Friday 27th February at 1 p.m.


Solidarity for sacked workers - join the patrol

February 15, 2009

From March ’09 workers in small businesses will be able to be sacked for  no reason at all, in their first 90 days of employment. 

In Auckland Unite union and other groups, including the Workers Party, have been preparing  to defend workers sacked under the new law

You can expect to see Unite’s 6 meter high inflatable rat outside any workplace where people are sacked under the new law.

To prepare for solidarity pickets and build more support teams

Meet: Saturday, February 28, 12 noon, Aotea Square, CBD

Several hundred people have already registered at Workers Party stalls to give solidarity to any sacked workers.


The 90-day bill - us and them

December 10, 2008

-Jared Phillips

Continuing with the New Zealand employers’ labour-flexibilisation drive, Prime Minister John Key has announced the introduction of a 90-day probationary employment bill that will allow new workers to be sacked without appeal, and it will come into force in March 2009.

What it means for workers

Those whose conditions will be directly attacked are the employees who are or will be in their first 90 days of employment at firms employing less than 20 people.

Slightly more than 30% of employees are employed in firms with less than 20 employees. The Council of Trade Unions has observed that of all employees, approximately 100,000 are in the first 90 days of employment, with a small employer, at any one time.

Read the rest of this entry »


Declare your job a 90-day free zone!

December 9, 2008

 

National plans to introduce a sacking bill before Christmas. That would mean that employers with fewer than 20 staff could sack in the first 90 days of employment without legal recrimination.

National has its 90-day sacking bill on a list of legislation it wants passed in the next 100 days.

This bill is an overt attack on workers’ rights. Workers in small job sites currently enjoy few rights as they are mostly not unionised and the employers consequently have a great deal of power.

The CTU is responding with a petition and looking at putting adverts in the major newspapers. This falls well short of what is needed.

Direct action by workers is the way to respond to this attack.
Unite union is taking the lead by saying that any worker can join Unite for $2 a week and get phone advice and back up where needed. If workers are wrongly sacked in the 90 day period Unite will organise pickets in defence of these people. Any employer who sacks under this legislation could find themselves confronted by a rowdy picket line and Unite’s 20 foot rat.

Employers plainly want to put the pressure on workers; it’s time to push back.

 rat-at-skycity-0111


Go Wellington versus environmental justice

November 16, 2008

green

-Ian Anderson

The conduct of Go Wellington demonstrates the struggle between capitalism and environmental justice.

 Environmental justice refers not only to environmental impact, but the full participation of those affected. ‘Sustainability’ is the current buzzword amongst politicians, generally meaning the capacity of capitalist practices to dodge points-of-no-return for environmental reproduction. However, working people are disproportionately affected both by environmental degradation and capitalist solutions; as phrased by Karl Marx, “Capitalist production [works] by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the worker.”

Public transport is often touted as a solution, with companies such as Go Wellington subsidised by local government. This approach is insufficient, primarily serving capitalist ends. Resources must be managed in service of human and environmental need, rather than profit.

 One line currently popular amongst politicians goes, ‘You don’t have to choose between sustainability and profit.’ In fact, green practices can increase profit; avoiding waste cuts costs, and there are enormous PR advantages to going green.

Read the rest of this entry »


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