Archive | November, 2013

Hone Harawira urges workers to fight back

28 Nov

The Mana Movement’s MP speaks to Unite Union’s 2013 National Conference


Working Class Heroes of the 1913 Great Strike

28 Nov

Historian and playwright Dean Parker on the men, women and children behind a revolutionary moment in New Zealand’s history, exactly 100 years after the events.

Some progress for left

20 Nov

By Mike Treen

Reprinted from The Daily Blog

Recently there have been signs of few promising red shoots in the generally barren garden that is the anglo-saxon left.

In the UK a “People’s Assembly” to oppose austerity was attended by 4000 delegates in June and it had the enthusiastic support of left leaders of the union movement. It has given a boost to the resistance movement to the Tory governments plan for permanent austerity.

An appeal left wing film maker by Ken Loach for left unity as an alternative to Labour was signed by 10,000 people and is holding its founding conference on November 30.

People’s Asembly Against Austerity in London in June this year had 4000 people attend

This development has been in part a factor in a deep-going crisis inside the British Socialist Workers Party that is producing a sophisticated discussion on the relationship between reform and revolution that I have real sympathy with.

Unite Union General Secretary Len McCluskey is publicly challenging Labour Leader Ed Milliband to reject “austerity-lite” or “he’ll be defeated and he’ll be cast into the dustbin of history.” With 1.4 million members Unite is Britain’s biggest union and represents one in 5 unionists in the UK. Whilst I don’t hold out much hope for his campaign to “reclaim Labour” for the working class of the UK he seems deadly serious about pursuing it and the consequences will be fascinating to watch.

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McPay Your McWorkers McNow

13 Nov

Help our US brothers and sisters!

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McDonald’s President Jeff Stratton was interrupted during a speech by one of his employees, Nancy Salgado. "Do you think this is fair," she asked, "that I have to be making $8.25 [per hour] when I’ve worked for McDonald’s for 10 years?"

Stratton replied with a full order of annoyance and a side of contempt: "I’ve been there 40 years." Salgado didn’t get an answer, but did get arrested.

Click here to tell McDonald’s to pay $15 per hour.

Stratton can afford to pay Salgado and all of his employees a living wage. He’d rather not, though. He’d rather that McDonald’s continue its binge of gobbling up oversized profits — $5.46 billion last year.

Click here to supersize McDonald’s executives email in-boxes today with this message: Pay Your Workers a Living Wage Now, or I’ll Be Sure to Stay Away From McDonald’s.

Please forward this email to anyone with a big heart who probably can’t stomach how McDonald’s treats its workers.

Matt McCarten: Row clouds already nasty issue

12 Nov

By Matt McCarten

From Herald on Sunday, November 10

Matthew Hooton is so far right he sneeringly derides the National Government as communists. But on human rights and social issues we are fellow travellers. We chatted on the morning of our usual Thursday panel with Radio Live hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere. Matthew was incensed over what he believed was Willie and JT’s attitude to the predatory behaviour and almost certain rapes of girls by the Roast Buster gang.

I had only listened to one taped interview of a teenager identified as Amy and read a few print reports. None of it was good.

Unlike print and television, talkback radio is live. Hosts never know what a guest will say. On most occasions there is no time for editing or planning an interview. Given the outrage over organised girl rape parties, any questioning of this girl needed careful sensitivity.

In the interview, there was much emphasis on mitigating circumstances for the males and little for the girls. What matters if they snuck out at night or what they wore? You could feel stunned disbelief in radio land when JT asked Amy at what age she lost her virginity.

There is no mitigation for males providing drinks to stupefy 13-year-old girls into sex. It’s called rape. Filming it and public gloating is doubly violating.

The conduct of these young men tells us a lot about where society is. I am keen to be part of a discussion rather than caving in to a lynch mob mentality, however tempting. Locking up a couple of creeps will happen eventually. Then what? Problem solved?

I wanted to discuss how the debate on the show had been handled; the disturbing role of the cops; corporations promoting sexualisation of film, music and youth culture; lolly alcohol aimed at girls; parents; schools; education; peer pressure; plus personal conduct and accountability.

I arrived late just as the show was starting. I wasn’t aware Matthew had tweeted widely before the show that our hosts were in for a drubbing.

Talk about cutting the air with a knife. There was none of the usual banter. Matthew’s opening that the Amy interview was “morally and journalistically cretinous” ended dialogue.

JT’s sneer that Matthew was carrying out a predetermined stunt was quickly followed by Matthew’s swipe at JT’s on-going defence of former top cop Clint Rickards’ sexual behaviour. Pandemonium exploded. Matthew’s stormy exit was so fast I didn’t have time to react.

Thursday’s show was great theatrics, maybe even good radio. But it wasn’t part of a discussion we need.

Next Thursday we need to continue the debate with Matthew’s intellect and energy. Otherwise last week was our last panel. And that’s a shame.

(Matt McCarten is National Secretary of Unite Union. His weekly Herald on Sunday column are a commentary on social and political issues in New Zealand. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unite Union.)

Final days to sign TPPA secrecy petition – closes 12 Nov

11 Nov

Please make sure you have signed and encourage everyone to get us up to 25,000 – we are almost at 24,000 now

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Sign the petition here at

We now have over 23,000 signed up in several places, but want a final push to get as close to 25,000 as we can.


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McStrike – A Delegate’s Tale

8 Nov

Taylor M. is a seventeen year old west Auckland McDonald’s worker, Unite Union delegate and Socialist Aotearoa member. This is her account of the McStrike campaign from the Socialist Aotearoa website.

On April 29th, negotiations between Unite Union and McDonald’s broke down over the renewal of our existing collective agreement. A collective agreement is the agreement workers are moved onto after joining the union, which takes them off their individual contracts. Unlike the original contract you’re given when you start working at McDonalds, this agreement allows for negotiation and improvements in future as the union takes into account worker’s requests and complaints when redrafting the agreement for the following year and adding their voices in.

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Letter to Speaker of NZ Parliament

8 Nov

The following letter has been sent to the speaker of the NZ parliament alleging a breach of priviledge by McDonald’s for victimising a worker for what they said at a select committee meeting.

No Right Turn reports a similar case a few years ago. They commented: “This is an open and shut contempt of Parliament. Evidence given before Select Committees is protected by Parliamentary Privilege, and the House’s Standing orders include “assaulting, threatening, or disadvantaging a person on account of evidence given by that person to the House or a committee” as an example of contempt. In 2006, TVNZ was fined and forced to apologise to Parliament [PDF] for disadvantaging a witness (outgoing CEO Ian Fraser) by bringing internal disciplinary proceedings against him. McDonald’s has gone further, against a more vulnerable witness, and deserves a far harsher punishment.”

The International Union of Foodworkers has launched an online campaign to protest this victimisation of a union activist.

You can support Sean Bailey and Unite, CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE TO MCDONALD’S demanding his reinstatement!


To Speaker Rt Hon David Carter,

New Zealand Parliament

Dear Mr Carter,

On October 14 McDonald’s sacked Unite Union delegate Sean Bailey.

Unite Union believes Sean Bailey has been subject to victimisation after he appeared before the industrial relations select committee on September 11.

The union also believes he has been targeted for exposing serial law breaking by the company over not providing meal breaks as mandated under the current law.

On September 17, just a week after appearing before the select committee, Sean received a disciplinary letter alleging he had accessed wage and time records in late April for staff in his store and made them available to the union. (see Appendix A)

The company held on to the information supporting that allegation (an in store video) for five months until after he had appeared before the select committee and the dispute over the collective agreement had been concluded before bringing the disciplinary charges.

The company followed this letter up with another dated September 27 with charges directly related to his appearance before the select committee. The second disciplinary letter said: “It appears that what you have said during the course of the select committee hearing and

doing so in uniform may give rise to breaches of your obligations to your employer.” (See Appendix B)

Parliament’s Standing Orders prohibits “… Threatening or disadvantaging a person on account of evidence given by that person to the House or a committee”.

The company indicated to us prior to holding the disciplinary meeting to consider their charges against Sean that they wanted to proceed with the complaint over accessing wage and time records before considering the charge over the select committee appearance. We argued that we did not think that it was appropriate to separate the issues and we needed to consider the gravity of the apparent contempt of parliament and its legal implications. We believed that the company had joined the issues and they could not be unilaterally separated. (See Appendix C for correspondence between the parties)

In the end the company simply proceeded with the disciplinary action in Sean’s absence on their preferred charge and wrote a preliminary decision to dismiss on October 10. (See Appendix D). They did this without confirming that that was their intention rather than simply their preference. We objected by email on October 13. (See Appendix E). The company confirmed the dismissal on October 14. (See appendix F). The company responded to my objections on October 15. (See Appendix G)

McDonald’s is currently subject to a legal action by Unite Union over failing to provide 30-minute meal breaks for many shifts of more than four hours. Unite has discovered that the breaches of the law have been routine. The company had been claiming to the union that they were not able to provide us with wage and time records that included breaks taken.

We asked our delegates to check if this was true. We were able to get information from a number of stores to prove that this claim was not true so we formally wrote and asked for that information for all our members as is our legal right.

The then “National Director of HR and Talent” for McDonald’s Lauren Voyce responded in an email that repeated the lie that McDonald’s “does not record employees taking breaks”. Sean is being sacked for exposing that lie. (See Appendix H)

We believe there has been pre-meditation in the actions taken against Sean. He had been an active delegate in the four months of the dispute the union had with McDonald’s over a renewal of the collective agreement. The McRush franchise of McDonald’s has a clear majority of its staff in the union. This was in large part to the effectiveness of Sean Bailey as a delegate.

Laura Thompson, the Business Partner and HR manager for the McRush Franchise owned stores sent a text to Sean in early August saying “You better watch out because I will fire you for the smallest things you do in the store”. (see Appendix I)

Sean also has a personal grievance against the McRush Franchisee for cutting his hours in an unreasonable and unlawful fashion because of his union role during the dispute.

Video footage allegedly showing Sean printing off the wage and time records was kept for 5 months before being used as part of the disciplinary process. Laura Thompson had previously told Unite that video footage was not kept for more than 2 weeks when we wanted an allegation of sexual assault investigated yet they have managed to produce video footage from the end of April

It is our belief that McDonald’s deliberately withheld the disciplinary action against Sean until after the dispute between the company and Unite had been settled. In so doing they have removed any pretense that they could claim a loss of trust and confidence as he has been working there continuously for the entire period. It is not good faith practice to collect grievances and then spring them on someone much later rather than dealing with them promptly.

The decision to proceed with the charges against Sean and his subsequent dismissal appears to have been provoked by Sean’s appearance before the select committee. We ask that the Speaker take action to remedy this grave injustice.

Yours Sincerely

Mike Treen
National Director
Unite Union

Is Graeme Hart exporting NZ egalitarianism or Union Crushing Scrappers?

4 Nov

Column by Martyn Bradbury reprinted from the Daily Blog

The furore over the revisionist celebration of Union crushing goon squads in public art on the Waterfront is a reminder of the brutal manner in which NZ history is littered with examples of violence meted out to organized labour.

It is the right who have always been prepared to use violence and state intimidation towards the workers and Unions of NZ. It is a history that is forgotten and distorted and leads to public art celebrating vigilante militia like the ‘Massey Cossacks’ as ‘Lovers of Auckland’.

Under the National Government, industrial relations have increasingly become more sour and bitter. The un-costed Ports of Auckland fiasco that saw a workers personal employment details leaked and used against him, the AFFCO dispute where the company were prepared to let 5000 children starve during their viscous tactics with the Meat Workers Union, and a Government intent on passing even more draconian employment law all add up to a low level civil war where class is never mentioned.

Against this back drop, enter one of NZ’s richest men, Billionaire Graeme Hart. Unlike Bruce Wayne, Graeme doesn’t seem to be exhibiting much of the milk of human kindness when it comes to the actions of companies he owns.

In 2011 a company called Pactiv LLC purchased six Dopaco plants in Stockton, California and remains the owner at this present time. Pactiv LLC is a part of Reynolds Group Holdings Limited, which is owned and controlled by Rank Group Ltd., a privately held investment company located in Auckland, New Zealand. Graeme Hart is the principal, strategic owner of Rank Group and is one of the richest men on the planet, with an estimated fortune of $6.1 billion.

So what is happening in Stockton, California that’s so rotten its smell has wound up here in NZ?

US based Unionists tell TDB that the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, a west coast US union, has represented roughly 400 workers at the Pactiv plant in Stockton, California (known as Dopaco plant until 2011) since 1982, making fast food cups and the plastic lids for the cups and fast food containers such as the fry and sandwich containers. Customers include Starbucks, McDonalds, and most major US fast food companies.

The bargaining relationship between the AWPPW and Pactiv (Dopaco) has always been good until this round of bargaining. There were never any strikes, lockouts or job actions associated with the collective bargaining process.

Currently there are several long-term employees in Stockton who have been with the Company since the early eighties. The Stockton plant was the most productive plant when it was well managed. The Stockton plant was a model to other facilities and many of the Stockton employees were utilized to provide training, process analysis and maintenance services to the other Dopaco plants. It is no coincidence that this plant has become less efficient under Pactiv management.

Dopaco Stockton was a success because their management believed in “listen to the experts.” They knew that the people running their equipment knew best what was needed to make things run better because they actually did the work. The employees helped to make decisions on the course of action(s) to take to improve operations. Today under Pactiv there is virtually no employee involvement in the process despite constant pleading from the Union and employees to management to involve the employees.

The London Ontario plant was the first of the Dopaco legacy plants to bargain a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Pactiv. The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) settled an Agreement with Pactiv in January of 2013. The CAW 2013 CBA with Pactiv includes the elimination of the defined pension benefit for all future employees and the use of temporary agency employees for up to 12% of the total employee headcount.

The Stockton California plant is the second of Dopaco legacy plants to negotiate a CBA with Pactiv. AWPPW began negotiations in November of 2012 and are currently still bargaining for a fair contract. Unionists tell TDB that Pactiv has no intention of bargaining a fair agreement with the Union. The Company spokesperson, Erin Ahearn, notified the Union in opening discussions that the Union could strike or do whatever they deemed necessary, but in the end the Company would have the concessions they were demanding.

The Company’s demands include the freezing of the defined pension benefit, the elimination of the paid lunch break, the use of an unlimited amount of temporary agency employees and an inferior health and welfare plan. The Company’s proposal to eliminate the paid lunch period would cut the employees to 37.5 hours a week and would equate to a 6.25% wage cut.

The employees and their union have begun a public campaign to urge Pactiv to stop pushing for concessions, currently focused on Starbucks and McDonalds.

These workers deserve better than wholesale slashing and burning of their hard earned benefits and Graeme Hart can’t hide his ownership of this type of wholesale exploitation.

Is Graeme Hart exporting NZ egalitarianism or the Union Crushing Scrappers so grotesquely celebrated on the Auckland Waterfront? What type of NZ entrepreneur does Hart want to be? One that champions NZs egalitarian principles or one that brings disgrace to our country?

Graeme Hart should contact Pactiv CEO John McGrath at 847-482 2264 and urge him to settle a concession free contract with AWPPW Local 83 as soon as possible so that he can set his legacy righteously.

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!

– See more at:

McDonald’s New Zealand union activist sacked for telling Parliament about missing meal breaks!

4 Nov

Stop rights abuses at McDonald’s New Zealand!

Mcdosackedworker.jpgMcDonald’s New Zealand has sacked union delegate Sean Bailey for helping to expose the company’s repeated failures to provide meal breaks for many staff working more than a four-hour shift as required by law, and for giving critical testimony on this issue to a parliamentary committee.

Unite is currently involved in legal action against McDonald’s over the missing meal breaks. Bailey gave testimony to a Select Committee investigating employment law, following which he was issued a disciplinary letter stating "It appears that what you have said during the course of the select committee hearing and doing so in uniform may give rise to breaches of your obligations to your employer." The rules of Parliament expressly prohibit threatening or disadvantaging a person for presenting evidence

Click here to send a message to McDonald’s demanding his reinstatement!


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