Archive for the ‘Workers’ strikes’ Category

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…)

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Every week the French marxist workers’ organisation Lutte Ouvriere produces factory and other workplace bulletins that are distributed at workplaces all across France.  Each workplace bulletin contains news and analysis of stuff from that particular workplace and an editorial which appears in them all.  Below is a translation of the editorial from the April 23 bulletins.  This editorial deals with the railroad workers’ struggle and its wider political significance.  The Lutte Ouvriere website is here.

by Lutte Ouvriere

Almost three weeks into the strike, SNCF workers remain determined and the strike continues. Week after week, SNCF top managers keep announcing that the strike is losing momentum but, whether they like it or not, there were more railroad workers on strike on April 19 than there were on April 13. And a lot of those who took part in the demonstrations organized throughout the country on the 19th agreed with the railroad workers’ action. Youngsters who oppose university selection and retirees who oppose the drain that the CSG[1] inflicts on their pension were joined by workers from the public and private sectors.

In the town of Reims, the entire staff of a Monoprix supermarket quit work to join the local demonstration. In Limoges, workers who are threatened with being sacked from Legrand (manufacturer of electrical fittings) and from Steva (a metal stamping plant), were also in the street. And in many other towns, numerous workers used this day to show solidarity with the railroad workers and also to say that they’ve had enough.

French president Macron said that he isn’t “the president of the rich”, adding that the rich don’t need a president to defend them. True enough! The bourgeoisie (more…)

Thousands of high school workers protest in Phoenix, Arizona for pay rises and increased school funding. Photograph: Ross D. Franklin/AP

by The Spark

State-wide teacher strikes are rolling across the United States. What started in West Virginia has spread to Kentucky, Oklahoma, and now Arizona and Colorado. In every one of these states, all or most of the school districts in the state have been closed for periods of up to nine days. Tens of thousands of teachers, support personnel, and other school workers have descended on the state capitals in massive demonstrations of determination and solidarity.

In every one of these states, the teachers have made it clear that they are not just demanding pay raises or pensions for themselves. The fight has included demands for pay raises and protections for all school employees and even other public sector workers.

Broader demands

And in every state, the fight has included demands for increased school funding to improve the quality of education for the students. Striking teachers and other school employees have reached out to the students, the parents and the communities, making it clear that this is a fight of ALL working people for a better education and a better life.

These revolts follow two decades of (more…)

Here we link to a downloadable double-sided leaflet produced by the Health Sector Workers Network.

The leaflet makes the case for an 18% increase for workers in the health sector as something worth fighting for.

If you would like to help distribute this leaflet contact the HSWN (here) or just download copies of the leaflet directly (here) and distribute them at local pickets and protests by workers in the health sector. (The leaflets are for health workers, rather than being for general distribution.)

Help build rank-and-file consciousness and power.

 

by Guy Miller

“The beating heart of the labor movement.” That’s how the moderator of the Friday evening April 6th plenary session of the 2018 Labor Notes (LN) Conference introduced six West Virginia school teachers. The teachers were fresh from a historic victory in their unauthorized – and unexpected – strike. The same could be said about the conference itself: it represented the beating heart of American labor. The record 3,200 activists who attended the three-day Chicago conference were living, fighting proof of that

History of Labor Notes

Labor Notes was founded in 1979, just as the attack on the American working class was about to shift into high gear. The three founders – Jane Slaughter, Kim Moody and Jim West – were members of the International Socialists(1), one of several American groups tracing their roots back to Trotskyist origins. Slaughter, Moody and West realized that just creating a “front group” for the IS would result in a dead-end for their project, so they sought from the beginning  to create an organization that would support and encourage rank-and-file activity in the trade union movement.

1979 was the year that Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, set the Fed’s interest rate to a record high, bringing on what is often called the Volcker Recession. The double dip recession that ensued saw the loss of over a half a million manufacturing jobs, at the same time bringing the number of strikes to a screeching halt. This was under the presidency of (Democrat) Jimmy Carter; things only got worse under the following (Republican) Reagan administration. In 1981 Reagan broke the national Air Traffic Controllers’ strike and smashed their union as well. Meanwhile, the leadership of the AFL-CIO – equivalent of the CTU in New Zealand – essentially sat and twiddled their collective thumbs. The long, slow Thermidor of American labor had begun.

The height of organized labor in the U.S. had been reached in 1954 when 35% of the workforce belonged to a union. The absolute number of union members, however, continued to grow, reaching 21 million in 1979. However, by 2017 the percentage of unionized workers fell to an (more…)

The following is taken from the site of the Irish revolutionary current Socialist Democracy (here), thus the reference to workers’ battles in Ireland.

In France the Macron Government has set in motion plans for the destruction of the terms and conditions of approximately 150,000 workers in the national rail network, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF). The level of workers’ anger has produced an impressive response. The major unions involved have been forced into putting forward plans for industrial action and in a show of unity 13 organisations on the left have presented a joint statement of solidarity.

Huge protests took place on March 22nd in many cities and towns which mobilised almost half a million public service workers, not just railway workers but other services under threat, regional public transport employees, hospital and care home workers, Air traffic controllers and Air France employees. These were not token protests but were intended as a prelude to, rather than as a substitute for, the  campaign of industrial action which commenced on April 3rd  with a further 34 days of strike action planned over the next three months. Each Strike will last two days with a return to work for three days on a rolling basis with suggestions by one of the unions involved, SUD-Rail, of the need for an all out strike at that point.

Their plans for the defence of jobs and services has provoked a furious onslaught. Attempts to turn private sector workers against public sector workers are (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.