By Joe Carolan, Unite Union Organiser and Mana Movement candidate
Unite organiser Joe Carolan with microphone
If we want to bring John Key’s government down, its time for the Pro Union Left to go on the attack. Redundant hacks like the Herald’s John Armstrong should not be setting any agendas, we should.
Thousands of young workers are sick of poverty and high rents, and the Left should begin getting out some radical ideas to lead the debate back to the substantial issues facing working people.
Here’s a few suggestions from a union organiser and a socialist candidate standing for the Mana Movement.
1. A Living Wage of $18.80 an hour. First stage, raise the minimum wage to $15 in September. Second stage, raise it again to $16 in April. $1.75 extra an hour for low paid workers would go a long way on struggle street. You want those 100,000 left voters who didn’t vote last time to get mobilised? Repeat this fact every day for the next 90 days.
2. Guaranteed hours for workers- end Zero Hours contracts. We have a huge problem of underemployment in Aotearoa. Many workers struggle to pay the rent when multinational companies cut their hours from 30 to 20 per week. Its time to change the law, and force employers to give workers a minimum of guaranteed hours per week, that they can budget around. That legal minimum should be written into a contract at the interview process.
3. Workers should have the right to strike. At the moment, we don’t have our full rights as guaranteed by the ILO to take industrial action. We can only strike if bargaining for a new collective contract has broken down, or if there is a serious risk to health and safety. But we are forbidden to have solidarity strikes, political strikes, or strikes if the companies break our contracts or "restructure" their businesses. The freedom to strike gives workers the power to solve problems themselves at grassroots level, and its a weapon we sorely need.
Can we start debating low wages, underemployment and our freedom now?
(Unite Union is not affiliated to any party. However, we have voted to support a campaign to get rid of the National Government. Among the reasons why we have done this is that there are three parties that have pledged to significantly increase the minimum wage – Internet-Mana, The Greens, and Labour. There will be a variety of comments and views expressed during the election in the Unite blog within the framework of supporting a change of government.)