Archive | January, 2014

McD’s Kaikohe: No Air Conditioning – No Workers

31 Jan

Kaikohe McDonald’s crew strike over health and safety.

By Gary Cranston, Unite Organiser for Northland

Workers at McDonald’s Kaikohe walked off the job today to escape the heat caused by a broken air conditioning system.

Not only did management ignore repeated requests for the system to be fixed, but the Restaurant Manager would turn off the extraction fans sending the temperature through the roof. The ventilation system has been broken for over a month in the heat of summer.

According to the workers, who began taking thermometers to work with them, the temperature inside the store was regularly exceeding 30 degrees.

After the workers walked off the job, they were met by family and friends and marched down the main street of Kaikohe to be joined by a supportive and vocal community. Arthur Harawira, the local Mana Party representative, joined the workers on Broadway, megaphone in hand.

A couple of hours later, the workers received notice that the air conditioning system had been fixed.

“We are all absolutely rapped and proud of what we did today” said one of the workers.

Note: According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Development website; “Strikes and lockouts are also lawful where those striking or locking out have reasonable grounds for believing that the strike or lockout is justified on safety or health grounds.”

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Inequality will be the issue for 2014.

29 Jan

By Mike Treen

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

Everyone from the Pope to Obama is bemoaning the effect that inequality is having on the world today. It is even being blamed for the depth of the economic recession and the weakness of the current recovery.

Obama recognised the fact that “the American people’s frustrations with Washington are at an all-time high. But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles — to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement. It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were. They may not follow the constant back-and-forth in Washington or all the policy details, but they experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend that I want to spend some time talking about today. And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.”

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Expediency overrules integrity

28 Jan

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, 27 January, 2014)

Five years ago I was impressed with John Key. He showed real principle during the 2008 election campaign saying he would not lead a government that included Winston Peters. When pressed by an incredulous media, he calmly explained that if to be prime minister he needed NZ First he would step aside and let Helen Clark govern with him. His reason? He didn’t trust Peters.

It was a master stroke and contributed more to National’s victory over Clark than people realise. Peters was deeply unpopular. His twinkling charm had been replaced with a shifty sneer. Key’s announcement followed Peters’ denial he had received money from Owen Glenn, when in my opinion he clearly had.

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Dotcom’s bid doesn’t compute

21 Jan

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, 20 January, 2014)

I’m a democrat so I will always support any political initiative that gets citizens involved in the running of society.

I wrote in this column some months ago that Kim Dotcom would launch his own party. He has the profile, charisma, money and motivation. He also has a ready-made potential constituency. His claim of having 15,000 internet followers signing up to attend his launch party is impressive. Dotcom is a media showman and will be treated seriously by the fourth estate – initially anyway.

Bob Jones was the last non-politician to successfully form a political party to unseat a prime minister. Dotcom wants to do the same. The difference is that in 1984 Robert Muldoon had had three terms and was tired and deeply unpopular. Jones’ call for free-markets against Muldoon’s “state socialism” was a siren call that gained him 12 per cent of the vote, ending National’s reign. None of those factors apply today.

Cynicism suggests Dotcom’s motivation is more about ego and self-interest.

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Fijian union leaders arrested after a strike at Starwood hotels

16 Jan
On January 9, six union leaders from the National Union of Hospitality Catering and Tourism Industries were arrested and charged as a result of what the government claims to have been an "unlawful strike" that took place on New Year’s Eve at Sheraton Fiji Resort and Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa (owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.) at Narewa village, Fiji. Workers in fact held a spontaneous protest against the unilateral removal of their staff benefits.

Fijistrike.jpgThe military government declared the strike illegal and arrested the leadership of the union. Now they are out of jail but harsh bail conditions prevent them from exercising their role and their rights as union leaders.

Although it is believed Starwood played no direct role in their imprisonment, the Company was responsible for workers taking action as a result of management’s unilateral withdrawal of workers’ benefits.

CLICK HERE to urge Starwood management to use their influence to persuade the authorities to drop the case against union leaders.

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Health and Safety Rep Training – a cut by any other name

15 Jan

By Helen Kelly, President, NZ Council of Trade Unions

(Reprinted from The Standard)

I couldn’t give a rats arse about Jordan Williams and his new little Act campaigning vehicle against the State, but I do care about health and safety and the manner in which some of the media have run his latest little ruse against training health and safety representatives in the workplace is a disgrace. Judith Collins has used it as a cover to announce the end of worker health and safety training by unions beyond this year, leaving workers unable to access the powers under the Health and Safety Act to issue hazard notices and represent their workmates.

Pike River disaster where 29 miners died proof of the need for Health and Safety training

In the world’s fastest OIA turnaround (just 19 days), Collins has given Williams the advice she sought from ACC regarding the contract it has with the CTU to deliver training to Health and Safety Representatives.

This training is the recognised training workers need under the Act to be able to issue Hazard Notices legally and carry out the role of representative. We have trained over 30,000 workers since 2003 (mostly non-union) to carry out this heroic role despite National cutting down the numbers we can train each year to a new low this year of just 1800 trainees across the whole NZ workforce.

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Facts to arm voters at the polls

14 Jan

“Labour and the Greens require Mana’s Hone Harawira to retain Tai Tokerau and bring in a couple of others. Co-operation to take Waiariki away from the Maori Party is critical to them.”

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, January 12, 2014)

This is election year, and here are 10 things punters around the watercooler tomorrow should know.

1. Polling indicates all party support levels are pretty consistent. Past elections show polling numbers don’t change a lot in election year. Therefore the election will be close and determined by the minor parties’ fortunes.

2. The respected Pundit website’s poll of polls shows National is likely to get 58 seats and Labour and the Greens 59 seats. The minor parties get six MPs: Maori Party three; Act 1, United Future one and Mana one, making 123 MPs in total. NZ First and Conservatives fall under the threshold.

3. If the above happens on election day there will be an “overhang”, and any prime minister would require support from 62 MPs to govern. John Key wants the Maori Party and either Act or Peter Dunne. David Cunliffe obviously needs the Greens. Mana needs three MPs to get the left across the line.

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