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End Child Poverty Hikoi 6 September – help spread the word

22 Aug
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Join the hikoi to end child poverty

in New Zealand

Britomart to Aotea Square

Saturday 6 Sept * 11am * Auckland

We want all our beautiful children to reach their potential – but sadly one in four children don’t get a fair go in New Zealand.

Child Poverty Action Group is calling on people and organisations across Auckland to join a march from Britomart to Aotea Square to demand action on child poverty in Aotearoa.

We’ve invited politicians from across the political spectrum to attend the march. We’re looking for a firm indication from political leaders that they are committed to the steps needed to give all children a fair go so they can reach their potential.

We aim for this to be a really colourful, child-friendly event – we’d love to bring people together from all sections in our society to show the nation how much we care about our children and their well-being.

The main thing now is to get as many people along as possible and we could really use your help!

Spread the word about the Hikoi in your newsletters or emails to supporters (we’ve included some newsletter blurbs below)

admin if you’d like to order printed copies.

Join the event on Facebook here – ask your supporters to sign up too and share with friends and family

Tweet about the Hikoi – #endchildpoverty #tick4kids #childpovertynz

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Who says we can’t afford it!

11 Aug

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

One of the constant refrains we get from the right wing is that we can’t afford the social benefits that go to working people.

The right wingers also claim that “we are all equal” and should be treated equally to avoid any privileges arising like Maori and others are alleged to get.

If we were really all equal then all our income would be taxed at source at the same marginal rate as for other income we get.

Workers pay tax before they get paid and have to argue with the tax man afterwards if they want some back.

The super-rich (including multinationals, banks and local monopolies) treat tax as some kind of theft from their birth right that must be avoided at all costs. The penalties for avoidance are near zero. In really big cases like when the the big overseas-owned banks were caught avoiding billions of dollars in taxes no one went to jail and they got to pay back less than they avoided.

Companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft can structure their affairs to pay next to nothing in tax even though they have a massive presence in the economy and are reaping monopoly super profits from their business model.

The super rich in NZ should be paying at least 33% on all income above $70,000. That should include their income from company dividends and property speculation.

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Why support a Universal Basic Income

19 Apr

My Mike Treen
National Director, Unite Union

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

The Mana movement’s support of the idea of a universal basic income is a welcome development. It could become one of the litmus issues that define the party and prove extremely popular.

If Mana are in a position to do so, they should demand that the concept be explored in a commission on tax and welfare to be established by the incoming Labour/Green government. The Green Party is also a supporter in principle for the idea.
The mechanics of a UBI are actually quite simple.

We would abolish WINZ and the giant bureaucracy it administers.

We would eliminate working for families and most welfare benefits.

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Right wing blogger makes fool of herself

13 Feb

By Mike Treen

A right wing blogger has made a fool of themselves trying to dispute figures first revealed by me in the Dailyblog about how a huge gap had grown up between the number on benefits and the number being recorded as unemployed or jobless in the household labour force survey. She was replying to a column by my colleague Matt McCarten in the Herald on Sunday.

She did a crudely hand-drawn graph allegedly showing that if you combined the numbers on the unemployment benefit with the number on the sickness and invalid benefit you get a completely different picture. Well that is true with a hand drawn picture. However, if you actually use the official numbers from the Department of Statistics website and use an excel spreadsheet to draw the graph the picture is a little different (actually a lot different!).

Here is her graph.

She commented:

The purple line represents the number unemployed; the green line the number of people on the unemployment benefit. But what does it look like if I add the line representing people receiving a sickness or invalid benefit?

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Rose-tinted view cruel fairy tales

5 Feb

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, Februiary 2, 2014)

Winz Office. Many unemployed not receiving unemployment benefit

This Government manipulates statistics to show how well the economy is doing and most of us swallow it.

The manufactured consent is the economy is booming and the number of unemployed is at record lows.

Here’s my unease with the unemployment success story. There isn’t a week I don’t meet jobless people who are seeking work yet receive no support from the state.

Many friends and extended family are hardworking people who tell me they don’t register with Work and Income NZ because they claim they are hounded by officious bureaucrats and made to feel like something icky on the aforementioned’s shoe.

The stories are too numerous to convince me there isn’t a calculated policy to make it humiliating for workers down on their luck to apply for assistance.

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Low wage workers who qualify for WINZ help

7 Aug

Hello,

My name is Mikey, I’m one of the workers at Auckland Action Against Poverty. AAAP would like to invite your low-waged members to take part in our Beneficiary Impact on the 10th-12th of September, outside of the Work and Income offices at New Lynn (5/9 Hugh Brown Dr), in order to assist your workers in receiving any possible financial support they are eligible for.

AAAP are running our second Impact event outside the New Lynn Work and Income office. The purpose of this event is to carry out large scale advocacy to ensure low-waged workers and the unemployed are able to receive the full financial support they are eligible for. Last year we assisted around 200 people to receive their full entitlements, and gain extra support to buy necessary items, such as fridges etc.

AAAP “Beneficiary Impact” stall

As many low-waged, under-employed workers are also eligible to receive financial support from Work and Income, we thought that some of the members of your union who are low-waged may benefit from this Impact event. This is also a good public tactic to shame employers, by showing that their workers are so under-paid/underemployed that they are eligible for support from Work and Income.

Below this message is a detailed list of different circumstances in which low-paid workers are eligible for Work and Income assistance.

If your members are keen to use our advocates during this event, please let us know. Ideally, we would be keen to know numbers, and perhaps book a specific time slot for your union in particular. As these events can be slow in building momentum, we would particularly be keen to organise a time early on the first day of this Impact, the 10th of September, to assist low-waged union members.

In solidarity,

Michael Brenndorfer
021 104 8437
Assistance Coordinator
Auckland Action Against Poverty

LOW WAGE WORKERS WHO QUALIFY FOR WINZ HELP

Low wage workers who may qualify for some form of Work and Income entitlement would be those workers who earn less than the following amounts per week:

For a single person aged 16 or 17 years without dependent children – $468.23
For any other single person without dependent children – $538.15
For a person who is married or in a civil union or in a de facto relationship with or without dependent children – $781.62
For a sole parent with 1 dependent child – $653.01
For any other sole parent – $687.98

And low wage workers who may be entitled to a disability allowance would be those who earn less than the following per week:

For a single person aged 16 or 17 years without dependent children – $506.01
For any other single person without dependent children – $585.67
For a person who is married or in a civil union or in a de facto relationship with or without dependent children – $866.91
For a sole parent with 1 dependent child – $705.72
For any other sole parent – $743.53

AUCKLAND UNITE MEMBERS: Please email support@unite if you want to take part in the AAAP Impact on September 10 in New Lynn, Auckland and we will arrange a suitable time for you.

How to stop the rich thieving off us

10 Jun

By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

I get sick of reading how the rich continually steal money from the people and hardly ever get punished for it.

Just this week the NZ Herald reported that “Two-thirds of New Zealand’s richest people are not paying the top personal tax rate, with increasingly complex overseas schemes and bank accounts being used to evade the taxman.”

“Inland Revenue has found that 107 out of 161 ‘high-wealth individuals’ who own or control more than $50 million worth of assets declared their personal income in the last financial year was less than $70,000 – the starting point for the top tax bracket of 33 cents in the dollar.

“The multimillionaires used a variety of 6,800 tax-planning devices – such as companies, trusts and overseas bank accounts – to avoid paying tax. One had a network of 197 entities.”

A few years ago the banks were caught using various schemas to avoid tax. They owed something like $2.75 billion – not including all the penalties that should have been imposed on them just as they are by the IRD on small businesses and the self employed. But the big brave IRD allowed the banks to only pay $2.2 billion or 80% of what was owed in a deal to avoid further legal battles.

The banks had been found guilty in the High Court. Instead of throwing the directors of all the big banks in jail for the massive fraud and theft off the public they had perpetrated – as well as fining them a multiple of what they had defrauded – they were allowed to negotiate to pay only 80% of what was owed. During the trials of the banks emails were revealed that showed the banks first decided what tax they would pay and then simply cooked the books to suit their decision.

Could you imagine a bank robber telling a judge that he would be happy to pay back 80% of what he stole in return for dropping all charges against him?

Could you imagine the solo mum facing a NZ judge over living with a partner and collecting the benefit saying: “Excuse me Mr Judge, would it be alright if I paid back 80% of what I received in return for a discharge without conviction.” Could you imagine the howls of anger from the moral law and order brigade.

Working people and beneficiaries can’t avoid tax. We pay it up front. If we have paid too much we have to ask for a bit back at the end of the year.

There is a simple way to stop the tax cheats. We should make everyone pay tax on every bit of their income. This should include capital gains, inheritance, dividend income and so on. If the rich think they should be on a lower rate they should apply to the IRD for a refund and explain why.

Anyone with assets in excess of a certain amount – say $5 million – should be assumed to be earning income from those assets at a going rate of say 20% and taxed on all estimated earnings accordingly. At the moment according to the June 1 NZ Herald article most people with $50 million in assets claims not to earn more than $70,000 a year. “Inland Revenue has found that 107 out of 161 ‘high-wealth individuals’ who own or control more than $50 million worth of assets declared their personal income in the last financial year was less than $70,000 – the starting point for the top tax bracket of 33 cents in the dollar.”

Tax lawyers and accountants who advise their clients on ways to avoid tax should share the legal liability of going to jail if they are judged to have cheated the system.

We could eliminate the cheats by saying no one can use a tax strategy to avoid the highest marginal rate unless it has been pre-approved by the IRD.

There should be mandatory jail terms for tax avoidance in excess of say $100,000.

Tax lawyers and accountants who advise their clients on ways to avoid tax should share the legal liability of going to jail if they are judged to have cheated the system.

Banks should have a special tax applied to them for abusing the system for so many years that their tax rate should be increased to at least 50% on all profits. The IRD should have the power to look at their books and impose an estimated withholding tax during the year and the banks can ask for a refund and explain why if they think they paid too much.

All of that is simple to do actually. All you need is the will. No one does anything because all the politicians, lawyers, accountants are part of the same gang and have the system designed to serve their interests. They write the laws to make sure that almost no-one goes to jail for crimes they commit as company directors and so on. 29 miners are killed and no one is in jail. Billions of dollars were defrauded by finance companies and almost no one was even prosecuted let alone jailed. The banks defraud us all and are rewarded rather than punished for their crime. The police, courts and prison system is to keep the rest of us in line.

Tinkering with the system won’t change things fundamentally. Real change requires a radical challenge to all that exists.

(Unite National Director Mike Treen has a blog hosted on the TheDailyBlog website. The site is sponsored by several unions and hosts some of new Zealand’s leading progressive commentators. Mike’s blog will be covering union news and general political comment but the views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of Unite Union.)

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