Archive for the ‘State capitalism’ Category

Labour’s key concern is keeping in with business and making it more profitable (Photo: Thomas Coughlan)

by Don Franks

Sometime next year your pay and working conditions may be completely rejigged by the government.

For better or worse?

The fine print is yet to be penned. Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has announced that a 10-person working group would report back by the end of 2018 on the design of new workplace laws setting minimum terms and conditions for workers in the same industry or occupation. The resulting terms will be called Fair Pay Agreements.

Through strike action Unite has won significant improvements in pay and conditions for fast food workers. This, not corporatism, is the way forward for workers. Photo: Unite

What’s prompted this new course?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stated that employers approached the government to express their interest in sector-wide agreements, because they wanted a level playing field when bidding against competitors who currently have lower labour costs.

“This isn’t just something that employees have been asking for so I want to correct the record on that,” she said.

What employees have been actually asking for, or rather, demanding, in sectors where they’re organised in unions is (more…)

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Pic: Rosa Woods/Stuff

by Don Franks

Delivering her pre-Budget speech to a Business New Zealand audience, Labour prime minister Ardern said business confidence was “the elephant in the room”.

Business confidence has apparently been low since the new government took office. A business confidence survey conducted by NZIER found businesses had become pessimistic about economic outlook for the first time in two years after Labour assumed office.

There is no need to worry.

Over the last hundred and two years, Labour has demonstrated a loyalty to capitalism that can’t really be faulted. During the 1951 waterfront workers lockout, possibly the most tense class standoff after the land wars in New Zealand history, Labour delivered for the class they have always answered to. “Labour is neither for nor against the watersiders,” party leader Walter (later Sir Walter) Nash declared.

The pattern of behaviour continued in later years, all down the line.

Following the stock market crash of October, 1987 capitalism was in trouble. State-owned enterprises started (more…)

The current struggle by health workers has the potential to knock quite a hole in government/employer attempts to hold down wages across the board.  The struggle also points up the underfunding and misfunding in the health sector.

Health workers have not only been prepared to take industrial action, but they rejected the union leadership’s recommendations that they accept the woefully poor pay increase offered by the bosses.  At present what health workers and saying and doing suggests they are in no mood for really miserable compromises.

Below are links to articles that have appeared on the site of the Health Sector Workers Network, a rank-and-file group of workers across the various unions that operate in the health sector.  These articles are linked to as they chronologically appeared on the HSWN site.

We are also currently planning an interview with some activists from the HSWN.  We highly recommend their blog – read the article and support their work in whatever way you can.  To workers in health, we recommend you get involved in the HSWN.

Let’s Actually Do This

With negotiations concluded for this round of the DHB MECA, NZNO members are faced with an offer being recommended by the bargaining team. Reading comments from the NZNO facebook page, there is an overwhelming sense that members are extremely unhappy with the current offer on the table. This comes after. . . continue reading here.

 

The Time is Now

A confusing part of the NZNO DHB MECA negotiations has been the pay equity claim. The negotiating team has recommended the deal and considers the pay equity claim as part of the reasoning for accepting the deal. These are separate issues. If people want significant change, HSWN believe the time is not tomorrow to bring this, the time is now. . . continue reading here.

 

Health worker silence due to Employment Relations Act?

The ‘decision makers’ representing NZNO should reconsider their strategy. Following increasing questions over “Why is NZNO not in the media?” this ‘MECA offer FAQ’ was released (pictured here). Health Sector Workers Network take a different perspective. . . continue reading here.

 

The NZNO DHB MECA — what is at the heart of members’ anger and what can be done?

There has been a lot of frustration amongst NZNO members about the way the DHB MECA negotiations have unfolded. Health Sector Workers Network (HSWN) has been vocal about this process and the flaws in strategy. With the vote currently underway for the second offer, frustration has given way to anger in different forums. What are some of the possible causes?. . . continue reading here.

 

Why should health workers in DHBs expect an 18% pay rise in 2018?

With District Health Board (DHB) nurses in the Nurses Union voting no to their latest 2% pay offer, union members need to set some demands. If members expect a certain percentage increase, then there needs to be a clear figure in people’s minds. If this is not clear, then what are people fighting for?

Health Sector Workers Network (HSWN) have considered this and detailed a clear rationale for this target. Our focus has been specifically on the NZNO (New Zealand Nurses Organisation) DHB collective agreement. This collective agreement covers most Nurses, Midwives and Health Care Assistants (HCAs) in DHBs across New Zealand. This agreement is referred to as the DHB MECA which stands for DHB Multi-Employer Collective Agreement. The previous DHB MECA can be found here as a reference. This agreement expired on the 1st of August 2017.

If you do not read anything else from this article, then just remember this. . . continue reading here.

 

Say NO to the ‘independent’ inquiry into DHB health worker pay

The Health Sector Workers Network (HSWN) is concerned that the suggestion from Jacinda Ardern and the Labour government for an independent inquiry could see NZNO members shafted. . . continue reading here.

Left, Cyril Ramaphosa; Right, Marikana Massacre

by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of South Africa has produced a plethora of articles hailing a new dawn for the nation.  The Irish Times published an article written by the South African psychologist and current John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill chair in peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute, Ulster University, Professor Brandon Hamber.  The title of the article was the unimaginative A new dawn for South Africa, but a false start for Northern Ireland.(1)

But here I want to focus on South Africa.  He is after all from there and Ramaphosa was hailed in Ireland as a champion of peace and an important figure in the decommissioning process.  If his election as president of South Africa is a new dawn, then it will not be long before he is once again held up as an example to us all, which is what Hamber does, in effect.

He acknowledges problems in South Africa, but states that with Ramaphosa’s election, “A wave of new-found optimism has swept the country. In his state-of-the nation address on Friday, Ramaphosa spoke of a new dawn, turning the tide against corruption and tackling inequalities, while maintaining economic stability.”  He further states that “South Africans have a new belief in democracy and people power, and have learned first-hand the value of a free media and an independent judiciary. There is new hope in the constitution, the rule of law and the institutions developed to protect democracy.”  Were that true it would be a remarkable accomplishment in a matter of days.  The hypebole of people power is overwhelming and nauseating.

To be clear, the new president of South Africa is a mining magnate, a multimillionaire whose fortune is calculated, depending on the source as being between USD 450 and 700 million.  Yes he was once a lawyer and a leader of the National Union of Mineworkers.  But that is in the past.  How he became rich says more about the South Africa he will build than all the fine words that we expect at inaugurations or the sycophantic faith of academics who should (more…)

Capitalism Derails (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Every week, the French revolutionary workers’ current Lutte Ouvriere produces workplace bulletins at hundreds of job sites all around the country.  Below is a slightly abridged version of the editorial from the latest round of bulletins, issued February 19.  LO’s site is here

The so-called Spinetta report recommends transforming SNCF (France’s state-run national railway) into a limited liability company, closing down “secondary” lines, opening up to competitors, doing away with the current working conditions of railroad employees and slashing five thousand jobs. In other words, this report is laying the groundwork for the accelerated privatization of SNCF and the destruction of railroad employees’ rights.

This is an outright declaration of war, to which the CGT (France’s major union confederation) replied by calling for a day of protest on March 22.

Railroad employees have every reason to fight back and so do all French workers. Given that the government is proudly boasting about the economic recovery and the return of prosperity, no worker should accept to see his working and living conditions get worse. No worker should accept to be treated as a chip in some casino game.

Many commentators and government officials get all worked up when (more…)

Marikana massacre of workers carried out by ANC government, August 16, 2012; the single most number killed by any Slouth African government in a single action since the 1960 apartheid regime massacre of black civil rights protesters at Sharpeville

Billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa has been made president of the ANC, although Jacob Zuma will continue as president of the country.

Ramaphosa says the ANC will spend 2018 reconnecting with the people and making up for its mistakes.

The idea of this super-rich capitalist reconnecting with the masses is a hoot.  Ramaphosa, who supported the massacring of mine workers just a couple of years ago, leveraged his time as a militant trade union leader to get into business and epitomises everything that went wrong with the ANC in the first place. 

by Peter Manson

Readers will know that president Jacob Zuma was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the African National Congress at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Zuma will remain South African head of state, however, until a new president is elected by the national assembly following the 2019 general election – unless, of course, action is taken by the ANC and parliament to remove him earlier, which is a distinct possibility.

Just before the elective conference, commentator Peter Bruce pleaded to ANC delegates:

The fact is that policy uncertainty is crippling foreign investment … And try not to think of foreign investors as fat, white capitalists smoking cigars in a club somewhere and deciding which ideological friends to finance … They’re investing the savings and pensions of people like you … They need a return on those people’s money, just like you need a return on yours.1

Corruption

Such commentators wanted Zuma out – and were equally opposed to his replacement as ANC president by his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was seen as a mere continuation of the current corrupt regime. Zuma not only stands accused of using state funds to upgrade his private residence, and of allowing the Gupta family to exert huge influence over government appointments – so-called ‘state capture’ – but he still has no fewer than 783 charges of corruption, fraud and money-laundering hanging over him. These are connected to the multi-billion-dollar arms deal finalised in 1999 just after Zuma became deputy president. His financial advisor at the time, Schabir Shaik, was jailed in 2005 for facilitating those bribes and, while Zuma faced charges too, they were conveniently dropped just after he became president in 2009.

During the pre-conference campaign Ramaphosa repeatedly insisted that all those implicated in ‘state capture’ and corruption must be (more…)

At the beginning of the NLP (NewLabour Party); vice-president Sue Bradford; president Matt McCarten; party MP and leader, Jim Anderton

by Philip Ferguson

Jim Anderton passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 7, just two weeks away from his 80th  birthday.  I have two sets of views about Anderton: a political assessment and also a personal view, as my parents were friends and strong political supporters and co-workers of Anderton’s for several decades.

First, the personal side.  This Anderton, I’ll call Jim.  I only met him once and this was when my mother was dying.  She had collapsed at home and been subsequently diagonised as riddled with cancer.  She went home for a fortnight before being transferred into a rest home with hospice facilities.  Jim showed up at my parents’ house with a load of food when my mother came out of hospital.  During the visit he gave me his personal cell-phone number and told me to call him at any time; also, that if he was in a meeting and couldn’t answer, he would get back to me straight afterwards.  He was particularly concerfned if we had any trouble with the public health bureaucracy – he told me to just let him know and he’d get onto them straight away.

Ferocious in dealing with petty bureaucrats

I knew from my mother that he was  ferocious in dealing with state bureaucrats who put any obstacles at all in the way of people receiving their just rights.  She had volunteered in Jim’s constituency office for years, both when he was a Labour MP and later, when he (and my parents) departed from Labour and founded the left social-democratic NewLabour Party and, subsequently, the Alliance.  I had heard stories from her of being in the office when Jim, outraged at one or other a tale of officious state mistreatment of one of his constituents (or anyone from across Christchurch who visited his office) would literally rip the jumped-up bureaucrat a new one.

My mother had also told me of his personal generosity.  The office was in a small block of shops in Selwyn Street in Spreydon and Jim and Carole Anderton’s home was up a driveway at the end of the row of shops.  This made it easy for him to dash back to the house and grab (more…)