National anti-worker attack will be resisted

The Maritime Union of New Zealand says National’s announcement of attacks on workers rights will be fought hard.

Maritime Union General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says the restrictions on union access to workplaces was a serious attack on the right of New Zealand workers to organize.

“National have now dropped any pretense of moderation in their policies – the phoney war is over and National’s agenda of tax cuts for the rich, privatization and now tearing up the basic rights of working people is out there for all to see.”

He says that National is embarking on a repeat of extremist 1990s policies but doing it in a more cunning way.

“The fact they have a smiley face fronting it this time around does not change the sinister intention.”

He says the attack on workers and their organizations is not surprising as the Government had failed to deal with unemployment, which was now rising again, and were looking to go on the offensive.

Mr Fleetwood says any attacks on workers would be met with fierce resistance.

He says unionized workers are one of the few obstacles to National creating a New Zealand where a majority of people would face an increasingly grim situation of high unemployment, poor wages, casualization and unaffordable housing and food.

“Unionized workers have better wages, better conditions, and safer workplaces – all reasons why National wants to bag unions and drag us back to the nineteenth century when workers had no rights.”

Mr Fleetwood says there is one way that New Zealand workers will “catch up with Australia.”

“That is to unionize and negotiate better pay.”

“The problem is that workers are getting less and less of a share of the wealth they produce which is being sucked up as corporate profits that accumulate to the already wealthy.”

Mr Fleetwood says the Maritime Union would campaign hard against any Government that threatened the hard won rights of the working class to organize.

He says all working New Zealanders must realize that the divide and rule approach of National was hurting their interests.

ENDS

For more information, contact Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Joe Fleetwood on 021364649

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4 Responses

  1. Hector Thorpe says:

    16 July 2010 – Special Message

    Special message from Andrew Little, EPMU national secretary, about National’s plans to scrap fair dismissal laws

    I’m sending you this special message because New Zealand workers and unions are about to be hit by the most serious attack on our work rights since the hated Employment Contracts Act in the 1990s.

    Prime Minister John Key will give his speech to the National Party conference at 10.30am on Sunday morning (18 July 2010) and will tell them what he wants to do to weaken work laws, including scrapping fair dismissal laws.

    Unionists from all over Auckland will gather outside the conference at the Sky City convention centre (Albert Street and Federal Street) at the same time to tell him and the National Party that we don’t want his unjust work laws.

    We need every member, and their families, who can possibly turn out to be there, to give the message: we won’t stand for unjust work laws.

    Leaked information about what the National/ACT government has in store for kiwi workers makes for grim reading.

    At the National Party conference John Key is going to announce that:

    * The 90 day “no rights” period that presently applies to new workers in small businesses is going to be applied to all businesses, and

    * The right of union members to see a union organiser in their workplace is going to be restricted so the organiser can only be there if the employer consents.

    John Key may make other announcements this weekend, so watch out in the news media for what else is to come.

    Make no mistake. John Key and the National government are showing their true colours. These measures are anti-worker. We are back to the National Party of old.

    And yet this comes when all the signs are that the economy is slowing, business confidence is falling and the promises National made about job growth are coming to nothing.

    So what does a National-led government do? It attacks workers and unions. This plays well to many National Party supporters and distracts people from the real issues.

    Why is the 90 day “no rights” law so bad? It’s because it makes it legal to strip a worker of his or her economic livelihood for no reason and with no right to challenge it.

    Workers starting in a new job can be required to sign an agreement with the “unfair dismissal” clause in it and then within 90 days be sacked. The employer doesn’t even have to give a reason.

    And the worker may not even know the employer is going to sack them until the day they are sacked.

    Denying workers the right to have their union organiser come to the workplace when they need it is about attacking unions. And the only reason to attack unions in a voluntary unionism environment is to give all the power in the workplace to the employer.

    We might have the freedom of choice to belong to the union, but that freedom to choose means nothing when the very thing you’re choosing is then based on what the employer is prepared to agree with. It’s no freedom of choice at all.

    What about when there is a dispute on site? What about when a union member needs an organiser to advocate for them in a disciplinary? When the health and safety officer needs to give advice? When negotiations over the collective agreement break down? How easy will it be to get the employer’s consent then?

    On Sunday a challenge is being laid down to all workers and especially to all union members. It is a challenge to our rights and to our freedom of choice. Ultimately, it’s an attack on our dignity.

    We will meet with other unions next week and work out a union-wide campaign to push back against John Key’s unfair proposals. And you and your family and friends will need to be part of that push back. As with everything the union does, by sticking together, we can protect ourselves and the generations of workers who come after us.

    Please join us this weekend

    We need every union member, and their families, who can possibly turn out to join us at the rally on Sunday to give National the message: we won’t stand for unjust work laws.

    Thank you.

    Andrew Little

    EPMU National Secretary

    • Pat O'Dea says:

      Despite the short notice, I hope MUNZ can have a presence there on Sunday.

      Kia kaha

      Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou. Ake, Ake, Ake!

  2. Malcolm Deans says:

    How do we fight back when our hands are tied behind our backs? Labour put the anti-strike provisions in the Employment Relations Act. Are we willing to bury these laws which deny us the right to withdraw our labour when we want?

  1. July 16, 2010

    […] new attacks on workers in the national plan By beyondresistance Leave a Comment Categories: community struggle, protest, strike action and workplace organising Tags: community struggle, protest, strike action, workplace The government has new attacks on workers in the pipelines: restrictions on union access to workplaces and an extension of the 90-day fire at will bill to more workplaces. Trade unions have come out strongly against this proposal. Maritime Union General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says the restrictions on union access to workplaces was a serious attack on the right of New Zealand workers to organize. “National have now dropped any pretense of moderation in their policies – the phoney war is over and National’s agenda of tax cuts for the rich, privatization and now tearing up the basic rights of working people is out there for all to see.” [ More ]  […]

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