Posts Tagged ‘National’

by Daphna Whitmore

The government has announced the minimum wage will rise by 50c an hour from April 2016. It will go up from $14.75 to $15.25 an hour, far short of the $19.80 called for by the living wage campaign.

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For the over 100,000 people on the minimum wage the small increase will not lift them out of poverty. Not only is the pay inadequate, many low-waged workers do not have secure hours of work. They do not know from week to week how many hours of work they will have.

However, this year’s increase is above the rate of inflation and again shows up those on the left who have mistaken National for a hardline neoliberal party. The fact is National occupies a pragmatic centrist position on the capitalist spectrum, snugly alongside Labour. (more…)

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by Daphna Whitmore

povertyA big new research project has been launched by the government. Called “A Better Start – E Tipu e Rea“, it is to run for ten years, with $34 million funding to “improve the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life”.

It will focus “on those tamariki most at risk of obesity, learning and mental health problems – those for whom we can make the most difference. These are Māori, Pacific and poorer children, who carry an unfair burden … Māori and Pacific communities are helping to design, execute and interpret our research in a way that is culturally right for them.”

While giving a nod to poverty being a factor, will the researchers get to the heart of the economic system?

Will they tackle the fundamental causes of inequality and consider who creates wealth and who gets it under capitalism? Will they establish why the majority of people earn only modest incomes and why there is a chronic shortage of jobs? In other words, will the research expose the capitalist disparity-creating system? (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

On the eve of Waitangi Day thousands of people marched in protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Many Maori took part believing the TPPA will undermine indigenous rights. That protest was expected to spill over into Waitangi Day events, but with John Key staying away from Waitangi the annual February 6 protests have been muted. That left Steven Joyce to take one for the team and cop a flying sex toy.

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Despite Maori economic assests worth over $40billion, Treaty settlements have not ended Maori deprivation and poverty. (more…)

by Don Franks

After several days of rumors, Fonterra today confirmed a series of massive job cuts.

Apparently the company held meetings with all finance delivery staff on Wednesday to announce proposed layoffs. Previously, Fonterra refused requests for comment.

Fonterra workers entering a meeting in Hamilton were instructed not to speak to the media

Fonterra workers entering a meeting in Hamilton were instructed not to speak to the media

Fonterra forecast last month that the whole company would undergo a sweeping review in an effort to generate more cash for farmers facing a $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids payout this year, after a record $8.40 payout last year.  The CEO said at the time “hundreds” of jobs would go, with support services in the cross-hairs, while production and sales would see a boost.

No information on how many new jobs might be created has been released. Instead the firm put out a press release on Thursday saying it had begun “consulting staff on proposals to streamline its business structures”. The release also said the review was aimed at making sure Fonterra is ready to respond to a rapidly changing global environment.

“The world is changing and global dairy markets are increasingly volatile. To keep ahead of the game, we need to be more agile, reduce costs and generate value,” it said.

Accordingly, the firm was now developing “defined plans that will drive further improvement across the business, allow Fonterra to fund its growth strategy and deliver stronger results”.

“In other words, we’re kicking some of our workers out to make more profit for the bosses.”

No, of course Fonterra didn’t add that last bit, though it says exactly the same thing in fewer words. Like hourly-rated employees, plain English speaking is often a victim of capitalism.

In fact, capitalism denies any sort of speaking at all if it emanates from the wrong quarter. More than 100 Fonterra workers in Hamilton were called to a meeting at the Salvation Army Hall on Wednesday, which was one of many simultaneous meetings across the country. These workers were  given strict instructions on interaction with the media via internal email just prior to the meetings, including instructions to bring identity cards so they could be checked at the door.

What would you do if placed in these circumstances? 

All things being equal, my own first impulse would probably be to (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

For years workplace fatalities were faceless numbers. The real human sorrow barely rated a mention in the media until the disaster at Pike River. The scale of the tragedy in that mine gave a glimpse of what was wrong at many workplaces. The site was not fully unionised, the workers were not in charge of health and safety, and profits were put before safety. No one has been held to account for those 29 deaths. The company, the bosses, the governments – Labour and National – that blocked union rights and oversaw the demise of a culture of workplace safety, were all complicit.pike river

Worksafe’s official figures record an annual average of 75 people dying each year on the job in New Zealand and one in ten injured at work. A further 600-900 die from work-related diseases every year. What doesn’t get counted is the harm to workers’ health from shift work, which is now commonplace as a raft of industries keep businesses running at all hours. Fatalities are greatest in agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, construction and transport industries. These blue collar jobs now lack union strength as membership has dwindled. (more…)

The Herald cartoon depicts the Prime Minister's plight

The Herald cartoon depicts the Prime Minister’s plight

by Don Franks

Media are abuzz with the story of the Prime Minister repeatedly pulling the ponytail of a waitress at his favorite cafe. Well, we’ve all had fun pulling down John Key and the guy had it coming, because you can’t molest people and expect to get away with it. But the kiwi way is to give everyone a fair go, even if they’ve been a prize prick on some occasion.  Face it, we all fuck up once in a while. That’s why the kiwi way is to assess people in their totality, not just on one incident. So, have we gone overboard in our condemnation?

Trying to look past the odd incident at the big picture, what will be John Key’s enduring legacy? (more…)

by Daphna Whitmoreiwd

On International Women’s Day let’s spare a thought for the women in powerful positions today. Those in government such as Hekia Parata, Paula Bennett and Judith Collins, and those women who are CEOs of corporations, nearly all would be at home wiping down their kitchen benches if it wasn’t for trade unionists, the communists and socialist women’s liberation movements. The radical origins of the March 8th celebration for women’s equality can be seen in its earlier title International Working Women’s Day.

Where were the right-wing women in the struggle for voting rights? It was communists like Sylvia Pankhurst who were at the forefront. What about childcare so that women could do paid work? Once again communists, socialists and trade unionists led the way. (more…)