Archive for the ‘New Zealand politics’ Category

by Don Franks

It happened again yesterday, on Morning Report. Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxton airily deflected the interviewer’s awkward question: “No, Suzie, Im not going there because its commercially sensitive.” 

This refusal to reveal how much US president Obama’s visit cost the company was accepted, because “commercial sensitivity” is among the magic words and phrases capitalism uses to protect its interests.  (more…)


The Health Sector Workers Network, a rank-and-file grouping of workers in the health sphere, has as one of its current projects the assembling of stories of resistance by workers in this sector.

HSWN are conducting interviews with people who have direct experience of taking industrial action – or engaging in any form of struggle or resistance – while working in the health sector.

Your story will be recorded and run on the HSWN site, but you can be anonymous if you wish.

So please get in touch with the Network’s project on struggle and resistance in the health sector.  You can email: 

The HSWN site, meanwhile, is here.

And HSWN on facebook is here.

By Don Franks

NZ Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff has just published an interesting piece : “New Zealand needs to change how it does business.”

Richard notes that over the last 30 years, “the share of the economy going to working people has fallen from over 50 per cent to just over 40 per cent, cutting $20 billion  a year from pay packets.”Income-Inequality

The union leader sees this having occurred because:

“… too many decisions about the work we do nowadays are made outside of employment law altogether.

“You see it for the people who are pushed to become dependent contractors and take all of the risk and little of the reward – that’s tens of thousands of drivers, utilities technicians, and construction workers over the last decade alone.

“You see it in the boardroom level decisions to re-tender whole workforces on lower terms and conditions by changing contractors (even though they end up largely employing the same people). (more…)

The third Labour government under Norman Kirk enabled employers to take out injunctions against workers withdrawing their labour; Northern Drivers Union leader Bill Andersen was jailed for his union’s defying an injunction; the jailing sparked massive workers’ protests

by Don Franks


Jacinda Ardern’s dead against it.

Today’s unions accept tight government constraints on it.

At some time in the future workers will recall this potent weapon, because it gets results. I wrote the history below when the previous Labour government was in power, our circumstances today remain essentially the same.

Strikes have brought workers suffering and death. They’ve also won money and righted wrongs. Striking involves risk, excitement and, dare I say it – (more…)

by Don Franks

It was a stinking hot afternoon down at Fords Lower Hutt assembly plant when one of us deliberately smashed a new truck windscreen. The truck trim line was a small non-automated section where four or five painted cab shells got fitted out each day, their windows fixed in place by skilled use of a big rubber hammer.

A worker would tap around the edges of the glass, on this occasion whacking it hard in the middle so it shattered. This meant work in the area had to stop until a cleaner’s union guy was located, had made his dignified way across to us and methodically swept up all the pieces. That process took a good twenty minutes, during which we were able to enjoy a break.

Of course we didn’t pull that stunt too often or it would have looked suspicious. There were other, less dramatic ways to get a break.

This time as we sat watching (more…)

Resisting factory closure: Rixen factory occupation, Levin, 1981

by Don Franks

We call it an act of God. A natural calamity, outside human control, like an earthquake, forest fire or flood, for which no human can be held responsible.

In past times, acts of God covered much greater range; unexplained livestock deaths and crop failures for instance. When we knew no material explanation for a disaster, all we could do was wring our hands and pray. Hoping that if we showed contrition for our sin which must have caused the calamity, a stern parent-like deity might help us.

Today, because our understanding of the universe is better, fewer acts of God are accepted as such.

Acts of God are simply events that humans can’t control to their advantage yet.

Scientific leaps in recent years have been breathtakingly exciting and huge, but there are some areas where human behaviour remains in the dark ages.

A prime example is the field of industrial relations. Awful disasters for workers take place, quite regularly. Disasters like the loss of one’s job – one of the most punishing losses that can beset a person – and they are essentially accepted as acts of God. You can see an example below in this union media release from 18 January 2018. The words happen to be from the union E tū, however it’s a fairly  (more…)

Jacinda Ardern & Clarke Gayford: first-ever privileged, First World, white, middle class couple to have a baby

by Susanne Kemp

Forget the war and repression in Syria.  Forget the massive protests against the theocratic regime in Iran.  Forget mass hunger and poverty across the Third World.  Forget the millions of refugees.  Forget the women (and men) of the world labouring for a pittance in horrendous conditions in factories, mines and other workplaces across the Third World.

Jacinda Ardern’s ability to ‘work’ and give birth is very much a middle/upper class privilege built, in part, on the super-exploitation of the Third World; but don’t expect liberals to talk about this

For the NZ ‘mainstream media’ none of this counts for much.

You see, Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford are going to have a baby.  Judging by the gush it would appear that they are the first-ever highly-privileged First World, white middle class couple to be doing so.

No First World, privileged, white, middle class people have ever had a baby before.

Presumably this is why TV broadcaster Hillary Barry tweeted, (more…)