Archive | May, 2013

MayDay Concert review – Palmerston North

19 May


Dion reports on MayDay Concert 2013, held at the Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North, Saturday 4 May: The Kate Martin School of Dance from Levin, won the MayDay Cup in front of a 500 plus, enthusiatic and at times rowdy audience, enjoying the great diverse programme on offer. 16 young dancers performed three very topical and relevant contemporary dance pieces, called “Youth of Aotearoa” in one fluid dance. A powerful imagery in “Office Mob” as they walked over people on stage, and then demonstrated great timing moving into “Treaty”, followed by “Nga Iwi E”, while combining hip hop and haka. At various times they held placards protesting youth rates and state asset sales

Singer/songwriter, and New Zealand Art Laureate, Moana Maniapoto, rocked the Regent in the second half, with a wonderful intimate set of songs that paid tribute to those who fought and continue to fight for workers rights. Moana was joined by the electronic keyboard wizard, Paddy Free (from Pitch Black) and the ultra experienced funky guitarist, Cadzow Cossar. Their haunting, “Which Side Are You On” was a highlight, followed closely by “Rebel”, “Timor”, “Ancestors”, and a special performance of “Treaty”, along with a stunning encore. Their wealth of overseas touring experience showed out in their sharp professional performance

In between music and dance, were well thought out presentations about various campaigns, visually projected onto the giant backwall screen. James Sleep from “the Living Wage”; Green MP, Denise Roche outlining the reasons to campaign against the Governments new Employment Relations Amendment Bill; John Maynard from ‘Ohariu Peoples Power’ created great audience participation and much humour as they repeatedly joined in his chorus of “bullshit”, to the Sale of State Assetts and the TPPA

Palmerston North City Councillor, Chris Teo Sherrell showed 2 striking video clips of the pollution of the Manawatu River, linking it to the same corporate uncaring attitude that impacts on workers, as he led into the introduction to the “Manawatu River Song” sung by the Brazen Hussies, accompanied by 12 year old Rosa Hehir on guitar. Rosa had been at the songwriters workshop that put together that song the day after MayDay Concert last year

Wellington band ‘Spanner in the Works’ demonstrated why they have to record their songs onto a CD for all to enjoy, as they punched out their jazzed up Ross Teppet led arrangements of “Power in a Union” and “Solidarity Forever” along with Peter Conway (on vocals and mandolin) with his stirringly original “Remember Waihi”. Those 2 were ably assisted by Bill Newson on lead guitar, Sue Windsor on keyboards and Lisa Beech on violin

The 6 piece rock band, ‘The Crew’ were a crowd favourite as they played up to their banner waving supporters. All are proud young and vibrant members of the RMTU and they showed great variations from originals to adapting cover versions

The Cailin Traditional Irish School of Dance, with colourful outfits, high stepped into a strong and speedy hard shoe “Hillsborough Reel”, depicting why Irish dancers hold their hands at their side, as a defiance in the midst of oppression

John Maynard launched the show with a powerful trumpet version of the famous worker and socialist anthem, “The Internationale”. Later on Chris Green, an economics teacher, who had last performed on the Regent stage in 2007 in the lead role of Jean Viljean in Les Miserables, showed his powerful voice with first an original he wrote, “Trickle Down”, followed by a booming polished version of “He aint Heavy”. He performed with 3 backing musicians under his bands name, ‘Shades of Green’

NZ music month was very much front and centre as Luc from France (on vocals and guitar) performed the Dave Dobbyn tune of James K Baxters poem, “Song of the Years”, to Tessa and Kate’s evocative Contemporary dance Choreography

The Brazen Hussies launched their first ever CD after 23 years (19 in a row at MayDay Concert) with lovely harmonies in “We Were There” that depicted the struggles of women down throughout the ages. They dedicated “Bella Ciao” to the Cuban 5 incarcerated in a US prison and ended their set with a strong audience response to “Join a Union”, to the tune of the Village People’s “YMCA”

The 5 judges for the MayDay Cup included the ‘Charge d’affairs’ from the Cuban Embassy, Manuel Sanchez, who loaned out the Cuban flag for the evening as it flew from the top of the stage. He brought out the international solidarity flavour to the night. The convenor of judges, Peter Conway, spoke to the audience at the end of the night about each of the performances and truly honoured each of them. The foyer at the interval was like a fleamarket as political parties, the ‘Pathfinder’ bookstall and other union and community organisations showed what they had to offer. Not a bad night out for union members, their families and communities for $5 per ticket

Dion Martin 021 776 029


First round of McD’s fight – two knockdowns to Unite – struggle continues

18 May

The unite union fight over their contract with McDonald’s has resulted in two knockdowns for the company in the first two weeks. But the struggle continues.

McD’s delegates training day in March

The fight began May 1 with a picket of the company’s flagship Queen Street store in Auckland that was subject to heavy-handed police presence. This aggressive policing continued outside the Quay St and Queen Street stores on May 10. The union felt obliged to make a formal complaint to the Auckland police commander and will be meeting him on Monday to discuss the police tactics.

One of the issues raised in the on the first pickets was the anti-gay culture demonstrated in the bullying and abuse suffered by Unite union delegate Sean Bailey. This became an international news story and was then picked up by New Zealand media.

The union then raised the question of whether the free meals or 50% discounts routinely provided to police was a factor in their seeming bias towards the company on the pickets. The issue then became a media sensation this week with three stories (one, two) on succeeding days on TV3 that ended with the commissioner of police (three) ordering all staff to refuse discounts in the future or face disciplinary action. The TV3 reports featured footage of the police pushing picketers around in Auckland. The news of the end of the discounts in New Zealand has also gone international.

From any point of view both stories were a PR disaster for McDonald’s.

There were also actions in Dunedin,


Tauranga, and South Auckland. There was always huge public support shown with toots of support and customers turning away.


Unite member on Clendon store picket

There will be continuing actions over the next weeks and months. This is a big company with lots of resources. We need to be ready for a long campaign. Given the low wages and insecure hours we can’t expect the workers to do win their demands through economic action alone.

We will need public support. We want unions and other community groups to consider “adopting” a McDonald’s to picket in support of the workers demands. We have already had support (including on the picket line) from the Auckland University Student’s Association and the Maritime Union of NZ.

Each strike and picket will highlight an aspect of the workers demands. We will have more stories to tell about stolen wages and breaks, insecure hours, favoritism and bullying, exploitation of migrant workers.

Below are links to the media reports, Unite Blog stories and Youtube uploads by supporters. We want to create a complete record of this campaign. Please send us any reports in local newspapers.

Keep up with the campaign by subscribing to the Unitenews Blog or our Facebook group. We already have just under 2000 subscribers and are getting thousands of hits each week.

Be part of a movement to support workers up against one of the world’s most powerful multinationals. Their courage demands your support.


April 2: Ronald wants to re-introduce youth wages

Ronald vs the Union

April 30: McDonald’s staff set to strike

April 30: Maccas staff set to strike

April 30: Joe Carolan on BFM

May 1: Unhappy NZ McDonald’s employees plan to strike

May 1: Mike Treen Speaks At Picket Against Mc Donalds

May 1: McDonalds Picket – Unite Union

May 1: Auckland Photos:

May 1: Youth rates will take work from other young workers

May 1: Sid Vyas, Unite union Speaks Out

May 1: McDonalds strike protest today.

May 1: Joe Carolan’s Post Picket Speech – Picket Against McDonald’s

May 1: Interviews With Some Protestors On The McD’s Picket Line

May 1: Britomart McDonalds Occupied on Mayday

May 1: Jase & Dave’s Song For Mcdonald’s Employees

May 5: Matt McCarten: Salt in wounds on workers’ day

May 7: Video: Police protect McDonald’s on May Day in New Zealand

May 8: Sid Viyas – “Working like a slave” at McDonald’s

May 8: Students stand by workers at McDonald’s

May 9: Picket at McDonald’s Linwood

May 9: McStrike Linwood photos

May 9: McDonald’s Linwood

May 10: McDonald’s, Unite at odds over assault claims at Linwood

May 10: Protesters stake out Auckland McDonald’s

May 10: McStrike protest report and photos

May 10: McDonalds McStrike – Brittomart – Closing speeches – Auckland

May 10:Mike Treen challenges police at McStrike Auckland (plus delegate interviews & speeches)

May 11: Union protesters assaulted by McDonald’s security staff

May 11: McStrike Dunedin

May 12: McStrike at McDonald’s North Dunedin

May 13: Two rammed at Dunedin protest

May 13: Dunedin – Picketers run over at ‘McStrike’ – organiser

May 14: Dunedin: Protester had two options: go over or under car

May 14: Tauranga – Protestors outside McDonald’s

May 14:Tauranga – Protest outside McDonalds

MAY 16: “Solidarity”, the cry of The Clendon McStrike


May 1: McDonald’s worker told by boss to ‘act less gay’

May 1: McDonald’s worker told ‘don’t act gay’ VIDEO:

May 2: New Zealand: McDonald’s worker told ‘If you turn anyone else in the store gay, I will punish you’

May 3: Gay McDonald’s worker receives international support

May 5: McStrike: Interview with Unite delegate Sean Bailey

May 10: Same-sex ‘kiss-in’ shows support for gay McDonald’s worker

May 10: Turn McDonalds Gay Day, tonight 8pm at Britomart

May 12: McDonalds vs Unite: Queer power, workers’ power

BFM Radio interview with SeanBailey


May 1: Cops used as McDonald’s private security guards says Unite Union

May 10: McD’s Picketers assaulted

May 10: Cops breaking McStrike picket

May 10: Mike Treen challenges police at McStrike Auckland (plus other video footage)

May 13: Letter from Unite to Auckland Police

May 14: Cop freebies at Maccas should end

May 14: Union complains about police conduct

May 14: Concern over police freebies longstanding

May 15: TV3 – Police accused of protecting food perk

May 16: Workers Strike Over Lack Of Free Meals On Shift

May 16: McDonald’s workers protest police discount

May 16: Police seek apology over fast food favours claim

May 16: Some questions for the NZ Police – letter from Mike Treen to the Commissioner of Police

May 16: TV 3 – Police regularly accepting discounts

May 17: TV3 – Police may be disciplined for discounted food

May 17: Unite to McDonald’s: It’s time to withdraw unlawful discounts to Police

May 18: Commissioner puts ends to ‘McCops’ discount

May 18: NZ ends long-standing McCop’s discount

TV3: Police may be disciplined for discounted food

17 May

Police Promo button on McDonald’s register (top right). The commissioner of police has now instructed staff not to accept discounts which “cheapens the standards of New Zealand police.”

Unite Union has written to McDonald’s seeking a reassurance that the company will no longer offer the discount to police officers.

TV3 Video:

By Rachel Tiffen, TV3 Reporter

The Police Commissioner Peter Marshall has threatened to discipline any staff who accept cheap hamburgers and fast food while they’re in uniform.

Police officers should pay full price or walk away if the food outlet insists they accept a discount, he says.

His instruction has come after 3 News revelations that police in uniform have been routinely accepting such perks.

A special button on McDonald’s tills gives police cheap burgers and it’s been getting a work-out.

Mr Marshall sent a letter to staff laying down the law about accepting discounts.

“It is totally inappropriate for a police officer in uniform to consider receiving discounted food from any outlet. In nearly 41 years of service I have never placed myself in that position, a position that cheapens the standing of New Zealand police,” the letter says.

Since the revelations were made 3 News has been contacted by a number of fast food workers about police accepting cheap or free food, not only burgers but pizzas, fried chicken, and sandwiches too.

“We should not receive a discount for simply doing our job. Retailers have clear motivation in offering such discounts – simply to attract law enforcement officers to their premises.”

The relationship between police and McDonald’s is long-standing. Many will remember an advertisement where non-sworn officer Ronald McDonald reminds viewers to “make it click”.

That deal ended six years ago, but the discount did not despite police back then vowing to stamp it out.

McDonald’s worker Siddhata Vyas says police officers normally come in to the restaurant during weekends and weekend mornings “because we’ve got quite a few drunk people so they come in and deal with that and then expect the free meal”.

And last night a former police officer wrote in saying she’d found it distasteful and unprofessional when former colleagues accepted what amounted to fast food backhanders. She said the restaurants, mainly McDonald’s, were equally to blame dishing out discounts to get free security.

The Police Commissioner says there’s no room for compromise by threatening to hold district commanders and supervisors to account.

McDonald’s: It’s time to withdraw unlawful discounts to Police

17 May

Lauren Voyce
HR Manager
McDonald’s NZ

Hi Lauren,

It has become clear from the media reports that the discounts being offered by McDonald’s are not approved by Police head office or the Minister of Police.

Is the company concerned that they could be seen as encouraging police officers to break their code of conduct by offering the discount to any officer in uniform?

The police also said in 2007 that they had written to you to ask if the discount would be withdrawn. Did the company receive this request? If so why did they not act on it at the time?

In light of these facts is the company ceasing to offer the discount at McCopco stores?

Is the company asking the franchisees to cancel the offer?

It would seem to me that the withdrawal of a 50% discount to all 11000 police in NZ would free up some money to pay for the free meal being asked for by staff.


Mike Treen
National Director
Unite Union
029 5254744

“Would you like Lies with that?”: McDonald’s workers and student supporters try to get a few police on the line using burgers for bait. The fishing was terrific, and police were practically jumping into the boat. It is against the Police Association’s Code of Conduct to take “considerations” from the public. But while they’ve denied it for years, it has now come to light that Police get 50% off their meals whenever they eat at McDonalds, and often don’t even have to wait in line. Unfortunately, hard working crew on minimum wage can’t get a free meal even if they work a 12 hour shift (Auckland Central Police Station May 16, 2013)

“Solidarity”, the cry of The Clendon McStrike

17 May

By Joe Carolan, Senior Fast Food Organiser, Auckland

“Solidarity!” was the word we learned in the car parks and drive thru of Clendon McDonalds last night, as a staunch and successful union picket persuaded 80% of customers, both on foot and in car to turn around and shop elsewhere.

So successful was the picket line that even the exhortations of an anti union manager and a Head Office Regional boss were ignored with laughter. “You can’t do that” said Karl Lenden-Hitchcock, visibly concerned that the restaurant was losing hundreds of dollars in business, as family car after car turned away, honking their support for the young workers standing their ground.

Solidarity from local Clendon people gathered. The clientele of the Clendon Inn TAB turned out to look at the commotion, cheering as cars turned away from the picket, someone obviously winning a bet! One working class trooper in a high viz vest shouted out “I haven’t seen a strike like that since 1978!”. Young unemployed people, whanau members and former workers also joined their comrades in beefing up the line, making it clear that this was South Auckland versus the Multinational.

When the police came, they told us we had a right to protest. We clarified, saying we also had a right to picket, and invited them to stay and observe how a picket worked. Local delegates approached each car as it approached the drive thru, and where a queue developed, other workers worked down the line. The delegates explained why the workers were on strike- for a living wage, for secure hours, for a change in management culture and an end to bullying and favoritism. The message was electric, and the McDs customers, largely low paid working class people themselves, instinctively reacted. It was a joy to witness.

There were only three right wing lunatics, whose desire to eat burgers takes precedence over everything. One well dressed woman, dripping in jewelry, shouted at the workers to get a real job like her. “I’m a high powered worker, you losers.” she shouted. The picket line broke out in laughter.

McDonald’s better watch out for this. The working class of South Auckland are intensely loyal, as demonstrated by the Progressive Lockout all those years ago on Favona Road. The mood among workers after the victory in Clendon last night was to escalate and bring multiple stores out on strike at the same time.

Watch out for Flying Pickets soon!

All Quiet at dinnertime in the Clendon store

CTU: Budget doesn’t do enough for growing social problems

16 May

“Today’s Budget fails to address the huge social problemsof a crisis in jobs, low wages, increasing poverty and inequality that New Zealandcurrently faces. These problems have grown over the last five years, and this Budget doesn’t do enough to help solve them.” says Bill Rosenberg, Council of Trade Unions Economist.

“The Budget should have been about more assistance for people who lose their jobs, productive community work programmes, and a strategy to help manufacturing and other higher value, higher wage industries grow.”

“There is nothing new in this Budget to address New Zealand’s high unemployment rate – higher than many other OECD countries doing worse economically – with unemployment forecast to still be at 6 percent next year, and significantly worse than the forecast in last year’s Budget which proved to be much too low.”

“A small package for tourism, science and technology and marketing for international students goes nowhere near what is required, especially at a time when more beneficiaries are being forced into jobs and the government’s taxation and expenditure policies are going to reduce growth in the economy by about 1 percent per year in the next four years. We continue to be very dependent on the Christchurch rebuild and commodity prices for the next few years.”

“The response to the problem of child poverty is hugely disappointing. Child poverty, as highlighted by the Children’s Commissioner and many others, is a reflection of the high inequalities in New Zealand and requires a strong positive response that includes addressing our low wage structure. A weak repackaging of other initiatives – home insulation targeted at low income families, programmes to reduce rheumatic fever, more for budget advisory services, investigation of low interest loans, and a trial of housing warrants of fitness for housing corporation houses – may be useful but barely scratch the surface of what needs to be done.”

“If the government is serious that things are now coming right, it should have used the opportunity to address these serious social issues. It has failed to do so.


Some questions for the NZ Police

16 May

Peter Marshall
Commissioner of Police
Police National Headquarters

May 16,2013

Fax: +64 4 498 7400

Dear Sir,

I am writing to discuss our union’s concerns over the discounts given to police staff by McDonald’s.

We see an apparent contradiction between the official police policy; comments made in the past by police national headquarters; a comment by the minister of police; and the actual practice of McDonald’s.

According to the February 11, 2007, NZ Herald “Internal police regulations clearly state that sworn police staff are not allowed to accept ‘a discount on any goods or services where that discount is offered because that person is a member of police’.”

The Herald continued: “The national manager of professional standards, Superintendent Stu Wildon, said he would be alerting all district commanders to the policy and demanding greater enforcement. He said he was unaware of the prevalence of fast food discounts for police, and feared the publicity would cause damage to the force’s reputation.

“‘The soliciting and receipt of gratuities and rewards certainly is perceived by some as corruption and that is one of the reasons we need to be pro-active in managing and investigating it,’ Wildon said.

“He said it was important to note that officers are not negotiating the discounts but that they are offered to police by businesses. Police rules say officers are allowed to receive calendars, diaries and notebooks, pens, ties, cufflinks, hats, badges, paperweights and ‘other items of little intrinsic value’”.


On TV3 last night Police Minister Anne Tolley says it was “very clear they [police] are not allowed to get any form of discount.”

But we know they do receive 50% discounts at McDonald’s, and it is not an item of “little intrinsic value”. A McDonald’s electronic register details a dedicated ”police promo” button (top right of picture attached) offering discounts.

The union’s concern is no different to that expressed in the NZ Herald article by Chester Burrows, a former police officer and the then National Party spokesperson on police. He said: “The idea of getting cheap anything because you are in a police uniform is just not on these days… these deals aren’t offered for anything other than expectation that when they press the button that police will turn up.”

We have written to the Auckland Police after recent pickets to complain about the behavior of the police on recent pickets. We considered them over the top in the circumstances with as many police deployed as picketers. They appeared to see it as their duty to stop our picket having any effect on the business of the company. Their actions were aggressive and provocative in my view. (See attachedletter)

As someone who has been on more than my fair share of pickets and protests I was genuinely surprised and shocked by the aggressive tactics adopted. We were lucky to avoid the police tactics provoking a more violent confrontation.

When we found out about the discounts given to police staff we also though it appropriate to raise it as an issue with the company to avoid any hint of bias.

I wrote to the company to say that we would like the company to terminate the provision of discounted or free food to police officers as being inappropriate in the current circumstances.

It is simply a bad look for Police to be receiving discounts from a company that they are being called on to “protect” during the dispute we are having with them.

This issue arose with the Queensland police a few years ago. The following media reports cover some of the concerns – including by ethics experts and the state Commissioner of Police:

“Giving police half-price hamburgers should become a criminal offence, a Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry has been told.

“Police who accepted discounted food and other gratuities could develop a sense of entitlement that led to a form of extortion, Griffith University police ethics expert Professor Tim Prenzler said.

“He said bringing in laws preventing businesses from giving police freebies was the only way to stop the practice.

“’You’ve got to attack the supply and demand,’ he said.

“Dr Prenzler said businesses that gave police freebies could be seen as buying ‘cheap security . . . in violation of the principle of police impartiality and equality of service’.”


Another article reported:

“Commissioner Bob Atkinson said uniformed police officers should not be entitled to food and drink discounts.

“’We shouldn’t expect a discount for basically just doing our job,’ he told 612 ABC Radio.

“Mr Atkinson said the issue was one of public perception.

“’If you’re standing at the counter at McDonalds and you’re in a police uniform and you get a discount … and the person next to you is paying full price how does a member of the public feel about it?’he said.

“’Does it mean that there is an increased police presence in some places because they offer a discount whereas in other places they don’t get that police presence?’

“’We can see both sides of the argument, but the police department and I have the view that those discounts at fast-food places have to go.'”


There is a simple issue of where “discounts” start and end. If it is appropriate to accept discounts for fast food is it also okay to accept them for alcohol at bars (when off duty of course), or brothels (it is also legal after all). That is why the policy exists I assume. It is a slippery slope.

I understand the Police Association has negotiated some discounts. However the McDonald’s discounts are not part of those.

We have a few questions we would like answered to clear up any confusion.

  1. Is it allowed for police staff to accept discounted food from McDonald’s?
  2. Have the police ever asked McDonald’s to stop this practice (as reported in the NZ Herald article quoted above)?
  3. If it is now an approved practice what led to the change of policy?
  4. If it is not an approved practice what is being done to stop it?

Yours sincerely

Mike Treen
National Director

%d bloggers like this: