April 15, 2012
As the struggle between the meatworkers and the AFFCO Meatworks company passes its seventh week the nature of the financial support for the 943 locked out workers is becoming more apparent. $11,000 per week is coming in from other meatworkers around the country, in the last two weeks, $12,000 in street donations have been collected and $80,000 has come from the various union fighting funds. It’s estimated that $100,000 a week is needed to keep the workers income at something close to their at work pay. In Wellington just over $2000 was collected in three hours at the Newtown markets and on Manners St. Regular collections are being organised in the major city centres and protest marches have been called all across the country.
You can make a donation to the lockout fund by calling 0900 LOCKOUT
April 11, 2012
Support Locked Out Meatworkers: Public Meeting
A public meeting is being called to organise solidarity and support for the locked out meatworkers. There are still over 800 workers locked out and everyday they stay strong requires more than just a physical presence outside their work sites. We need thousands of dollars to help feed their families and keep roofs over their heads.
But more than that, we need to do everything we can do to help them WIN.
7pm Thursday 11th April
April 2, 2012
This article by Workers Party member Joel Cosgrove originally appeared in Green Left Weekly.
In what has been described as New Zealand’s most high-profile and bitter industrial dispute since the early 1990s, waterside workers went back to work, after a four-week strike. Auckland’s port company agreed to end its lockout of 235 workers on March 30, and pay workers a week’s wages for being illegally locked out.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Maritime Union president Garry Parsloe told a huge workers’ meeting: “You’ll all go back to your jobs and until you go back you’ll all get paid.
“Everything we have done has fallen into place, thanks to your solidarity.” Read the rest of this entry »
April 2, 2012
By writers for The Spark
The livelihoods of thousands of working class people in New Zealand are being attacked by Talleys Group Ltd, a New Zealand-based private company which owns AFFCO meat-processing plants and has locked out freezing workers throughout the North Island.
As one of the largest meat operations in New Zealand, Talleys operates nine AFFCO freezing works plants. For decades AFFCO has been a source of employment in provincial areas and the workforce is often generational. Through generations of genuine rank-and-file unionism, freezing workers in AFFCO as well as other plants owned by other meat processing companies were able to achieve relatively strong wages and conditions by comparison to other industries.
On Febraury 29 the company locked out of over 700 workers which led to the beginning of picketing on March 2 at the Moerewa (in Northland), Wiri (in South Auckland), Horotiu (in North Waikato), Rangiuru (near Te Puke), Hawkes Bay (at Napier), and Manawatu (at Fielding), and Wairoa (in Northern Hawkes Bay) plants. On March 2 the union correctly called all members who were not locked-out into strike action. In turn the company then began locking-out strikers who were not covered by the original lockout notices, for example, a further 200 more workers were locked-out at Rangiuru. The union then called further 24-hour and 48-hour strikes including those which started on March 6, March 12, and March 22. Daily pickets are taking place at some plants. Read the rest of this entry »
March 31, 2012
Service and Food Workers Union members at Ports of Auckland rally.
This article, by Workers Party member Joel Cosgrove, originally appeared in Green Left Weekly.
A number of high-profile industrial struggles are unfolding in New Zealand.
About 1500 aged care workers, members of the Service and Food Workers Union, are taking part in rolling strikes against a 1% pay rise offer. About 750 meat workers have been locked out by their employer AFFCO and about 1250 workers are involved in rolling stoppages in solidarity. Striking Auckland waterside workers are also into their fourth week on the picket line.
What links all these struggles are pay and conditions ― especially the fight against casualisation. Read the rest of this entry »
March 28, 2012
Patricks dispute, 1998
“Blacking,” or black-listing of cargo, has a long and proud history among wharfies. In 1998 during the Australian Patricks dispute, when the Australian government in concert with private contractors launched an offensive to casualise Australian ports, wharfies in Auckland black-listed a ship loaded by scab labour. This international solidarity was a key factor in undermining the employer offensive, a struggle which was in many ways similar to the current attack by Ports of Auckland.
On the 2nd of March, port workers in Wellington refused to work a ship loaded by scabs in Auckland. On a rainy and dreary night, a community picket drew in support from various unions, with delegates from Unite calling off an event that night to show solidarity. CentrePort promptly got a court order demanding Wellington wharfies unload the ship. All ships loaded by scabs have also been black-listed in Australia.
Labour opposes the right to solidarity strikes.
In the February Spark, we noted how solidarity strikes are crucial in challenging the current employer offensive. Labour’s Employment Relations Act bans solidarity strikes, because they challenge a “secondary employer” such as Wellington’s CentrePort. The International Labour Organisation notes how the right to strike underpins all other basic rights, such as the right to organise, the right to a living wage, and even wider community claims; the refusal by wharfies to work nuclear warships was a key factor in introducing our nuclear-free policy.
Both Labour and National oppose the unrestricted right to strike because it undermines the basis of their class power. This right is never given, always taken. Workers and progressives must fight for the unrestricted freedom to strike.
March 27, 2012
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.
March 26, 2012
Morale on the picket line remained strong on 20 March, despite the wet and wild weather. “We work out in this weather 24/7, so it’s no problem for us,” explained one wharfie. Another striker described how important the public support has been for them: “We had runners doing Round the Bays come past our picket line this weekend, and there were thousands of them clapping and cheering us. We also had players from the Bulldogs coming down to support us, although they weren’t allowed to wear any of their gears!”
Some politicians have been forced to get off the fence during the dispute: “We had Pita Sharples here the other day, giving everyone high fives. But [Auckland Mayor] Len Brown has been a big disappointment. He sat in on the last mediation we had with Ports of Auckland, but he said nothing.”
“Last Monday we put on a ‘hard picket’ which was effective. We kept it on just long enough to have the trucks backing up all down the road, just to send a message of the kind of disruption that is possible.”
Another high point was public demonstration on 10 March, with at least 5,000 people marching in support of the wharfies. The rally at the waterfront threatened to be a damp squib, with keynote speaker David Shearer delivering an underwhelming, stumbling speech that no doubt reflected his discomfort at addressing a group of staunch striking workers. Fortunately, the Maritime Union of Australia saved the day, with deputy national secretary Mick Doleman pledging: “We’ll be with you no matter how long it takes”.
March 24, 2012
A powerful group of global unions which between them represent tens of millions of unionised workers, are now on ‘red alert’ over the treatment of workers in New Zealand that is being dramatically illustrated by disputes at the Ports of Auckland, Affco and the Oceania care company.
The warning was sounded last month by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), Public Services International (PSI), and the Council of Global Unions. Read the rest of this entry »