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How you can support striking ANZ workers

9 Oct

Tomorrow (Friday) FIRST Union members at ANZ are going on strike, speaking out against bank proposals that would be highly disruptive to family life. This update to CTU affiliates details how you can support FIRST Union members involved in the strike.

Information about the dispute is at the base of this page.

1 – Messages of solidarity If you wish, email a short message of solidarity to sam.huggard<mailto:sam.huggard> today or tonight and it will be read out at rallies tomorrow morning. Our members really appreciate this.

2 – Attend a picket There are pickets in the main centres, and smaller actions in regional areas. The details of the pickets are copied below. Continue reading

Fast-Food Workers Seeking $15 Wage Are Planning Civil Disobedience

2 Sep


Demonstrators outside a McDonald’s restaurant in New York in May. Fast-food workers seeking higher wages plan new strikes and demonstrations this week.

From the New York Times

By Stephen Greenhouse

The next round of strikes by fast-food workers demanding higher wages is scheduled for Thursday, and this time labor organizers plan to increase the pressure by staging widespread civil disobedience and having thousands of home-care workers join the protests.

The organizers say fast-food workers — who are seeking a $15 hourly wage — will go on strike at restaurants in more than 100 cities and engage in sit-ins in more than a dozen cities.

But by having home-care workers join, workers and union leaders hope to expand their campaign into a broader movement.

“On Thursday, we are prepared to take arrests to show our commitment to the growing fight for $15,” said Terrence Wise, a Burger King employee in Kansas City, Mo., and a member of the fast-food workers’ national organizing committee. At a convention that was held outside Chicago in July, 1,300 fast-food workers unanimously approved a resolution calling for civil disobedience as a way to step up pressure on the fast-food chains.

“They’re going to use nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to call attention to what they’re facing,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions of dollars helping to underwrite the campaign. “They’re invoking civil rights history to make the case that these jobs ought to be paid $15 and the companies ought to recognize a union.”

Continue reading

campaign success at KFC Thailand

11 Jun

Campaign success at KFC Thailand!

The IUF campaign to stop the harassment of union leaders at KFC Thailand has succeeded in stopping management from threatening and harassing union leaders. Changes are underway at the company which the union believes have opened space for KFC workers to access their rights and fight for a living wage. The union has expressed its appreciation to the many thousands who responded to the campaign with messages to the company.
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www.iuf.org

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#fastfoodglobal protests kick off in Auckland

15 May

Workers in Auckland will be joining forces with fast food workers – in North and South America, across

#fastfoodglobal - the global fight of fast food workers for decent wages and conditions

#fastfoodglobal – the global fight of fast food workers for decent wages and conditions

Europe, Asia, and in Africa – to stand up and take action for fairer pay, that anyone who works for a living deserves.

Low wage workers will rally outside McDonalds flagship restaurant in Auckland today (Thursday 15th May) as the first action in a new worldwide campaign for fair pay, and the right for fast food workers to join unions.

The campaign, #fastfoodglobal was called by the IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association) after a worldwide conference of fast food workers held in New York last week.

Unite organiser, Joe Carolan, who recently returned from the US conference, said:

“New Zealand is one of very few countries that have union agreements covering fast food workers. Many of the conditions workers in other countries are struggling to win – we have already achieved here. We are taking action today to support Fast Food workers in the USA and other countries who are fighting for these same conditions.”
Continue reading

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: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/11/01/is-graeme-hart-exporting-nz-egalitarianism-or-union-crushing-scrappers/#sthash.HXKU9SPa.dpuf

McDonald’s Must Pay

4 Jun

KahInn Lee: Why Big Business Wants More Guestworkers in the USA

KahInn Lee is a former McDonald’s guestworker in the United States on the front lines of immigration reform.

A McDonald’s franchisee used KahInn and other guestworkers as a sub-minimum wage, exploitable workforce—but the workers stood up to expose the abuse and stop it.

Corporations like McDonald’s want to hugely expand guestworker programs through immigration reform, while leaving out basic protections for guestworkers and the tens of millions of U.S. workers alongside them in the same industries.

Protests in 30+ Countries to Target McDonald’s Labor Abuse

On June 6, student guestworker fight from U.S. becomes global campaign against labor abuse, for freedom of association

http://www.guestworkeralliance.org/2013/05/protests-in-30-countries-to-target-mcdonalds-labor-abuse-on-6613/

OPEN LETTER RE EXPLOITATION OF INTERNATIONAL WORKERS AT MCDONALD’S

June 6, 2013

Via E-mail and Hand Delivery to Store Mangers

Don Thompson

President and CEO, McDonald’s

2111 McDonald’s Dr.

Oak Brook, IL 60523

Re: EXPLOITATION AND RETALIATION OF INTERNATIONAL SUBCONTRACTED WORKERS AT MCDONALD’S FRANCHISES

Mr. Thompson:

We are unions, labor federations, youth, and human rights organization from countries where McDonald’s agents recruit low-wage temporary workers to come to work in McDonald’s franchises in the United States. On March 6, temporary international workers on J-1 visas from around the world went on strike to expose severe exploitation and retaliation at McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. They joined U.S. workers and union leaders in demanding that the fast food giant take responsibility for labor abuse at its restaurants—and their fight reached the pages of Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and NBC News.

These international subcontracted workers from Asia and Latina America reported that they paid $3,000 to $4,000 apiece to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program, expecting decent work and a cultural exchange. Instead, McDonald’s used them as a sub-minimum wage captive workforce. Workers faced:

  • Threats of deportation by McDonald’s franchise management
  • As few as four hours of work a week at $7.25 an hour, with exorbitant housing deductions that brought their net pay far below minimum wage
  • Shifts as long as 25 hours with no overtime pay
  • Being packed into employer-owned basement housing, up to eight students to a room, for $300 each per month
  • Retaliation by the McDonald’s franchisee and labor supplier Geovisions, including surprise home visits and cuts to work hours

Despite threats of deportation by the franchise management, these young workers bravely joined the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), went on strike and launched a campaign to demand dignity and the freedom to organize for themselves, and for all McDonald’s workers.

As workers, trade unions, students, fathers, mothers, human rights organizations and community members from countries around the world where McDonald’s agents recruit international labor we are demanding an end to the abuse.

We demand that McDonald’s:

1. Agree to end exploitation and retaliation of the international guestworkers recruited to work in all U.S. stores; and

2. Guarantee freedom of association and the right to organize without retaliation for all of McDonald’s workers worldwide.

Respectfully,

UNION/Organization – Representive – Country

  • All of Us or None – United States
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) – United States
  • Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) – Philippines
  • Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)
  • Confédération Chrétienne des Syndicats Malgaches (SEKRIMA) – Madagascar
  • Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens (French Democratic Confederation of Labor) (CFDT) – Gilles Desbordes – France
  • CNS “Cartel ALFA” – Romania
  • Derechos Humanos CUT – Chile
  • Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFIT) – Bassem Halaka – Egypt
  • Health Services Workers Union of Ghana (HSWU) of TUC – Franklin Ansah – Ghana
  • Independent Trade union of Miners of Ukraine – Deputy Head Anatolyi Akimochkin – Ukraine
  • International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – Jeroen Beirnaert – Brazil
  • International Union of Food workers (IUF) – General Secretary Ron Oswald – Switzerland
  • International Union of Food workers (IUF) – Vijay Hiremath – India
  • International Union of Food workers – 식품 농업 호텔 요식 캐터링서비스 관광 연초 및 유사산업 국제노동조합연 (Hotel Food and Agriculture Hospitality and Catering services) (IUF Korea) – South Korea
  • IUF Thailand: Cuisine and Service Workers Union and the Cook and Servers Workers Union of Thailand – Thailand
  • IUF Poultry Workers’ Rights Network – Thailand
  • Federation of Hotel, Restaurant, Plaza, Apartment, Catering and Tourism Workers’ Free Union (FSPM)/IUF – Indonesia
  • Federación Nacional de Trabajadores en Industrias de la Alimentación, Hoteles, Bebidas, Tabaco y Afines (FENTIAHBETA) – Dominican Republic
  • Federação dos Sindicatos da Agricultura, Alimentação, Bebidas, Hotelaria e Turismo de Portugal (FESAHT) –
  • Pakistan Hotel, Restaurant, Clubs, Tourism, Catering and Allied Workers (PHRCTCAWF)/IUF – Pakistan
  • International Union of Food workers Hong Kong Catering & Hotels Industries Employees General Union (CHIEGU)/IUF
  • Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) – Canada
  • Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work (United States)
  • Kommunistinen Nuorisoliitto KomNL (The Finnish Communist Youth Alliance) – Simo Suominen – Finland
  • La Confédération générale des travailleurs de Mauritanie (CGTM) General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers – Mauritania
  • La Confederación Paraguaya de Trabajadores C.P.T – Presidente FRANCISCO BRITEZ RUIZ – Paraguay
  • La Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (FGTB HORVAL) (General Federation of Labor) – Belgium
  • La Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD) – Ecuador
  • Le Bureau National de l’Association Malienne des Expulsés ( AME) – President Ousmane Diarra – Mali
  • Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) / Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union – Ireland
  • New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) – General Secretary Ashim Roy – India
  • National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN) – Philippines
  • National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) – United States
  • National Guestworker Alliance – Argentina – Malaysia – Mongolia – Romania – Poland – Turkey
  • Proyetco de Derechos Economicos Sociales y Culturales (Project for Economic Social and Cultural Rights) (ProDESC) – Alejandra Ancheita – Mexico
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center – United States
  • Solidaridad de Trabajadores Cubanos STC –
  • SEEB – SP – Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) (Unified Workers’ Central) -Rita Berlofa – Brazil
  • Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Gastronomia e Hospedagem de São Paulo e Região (SINTHORESP) (Trade Union of Workers in Lodging and Dining in Presidente Prudente and Region) – Brazil
  • Socialist union of Youth / SZM Slovakia – Chairman Miroslav Pomajdík – Slovakia
  • Society for Labor and Development (SLD) – India
  • UITA (SIREL), Uruguay (International Union of Food workers) – Patricia Iglesias Aguirre – Uruguay
  • Unite the Union – Jennie Formby – Great Britain
  • Unite Union – Mike Treen – New Zealand
  • United Worker Congress – United States
  • Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (Ver.di) (United Services Union) – Jeffrey Raffo – Germany
  • Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago – United States
  • Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) – Zimbabwe

The cancer of racism is bad for all of us

31 May

By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

I often get caught by surprise at the depth of racism in our society.

At the same time we see so many generous acts of solidarity and support regardless of race.

As a young man I was somewhat infected by a belief that things would always get better. That seemed true for living standards and democratic rights for the 1960s and 1970s and continued into the 1980s. Racism appeared to be challenged, women’s rights being advanced, gay rights would inevitably follow.

The Springbok Tour and its aftermath appeared to shatter the crusty old colonial racism of the then Muldoon led National Government.

Maori in particular seemed on the march. The Land march in 1975, Bastion Point and Raglan occupations, the Hikoi to Waitangi.

But that progress has been reversed in many real respects or given a conservative twist as the establishment opened the doors to some Maori while excluding the vast majority from the fruits of its “civilisation”.

In the last few decades working people as a whole have been pushed backwards. Levels of poverty have doubled from 10-20% of the population using a consistent measure. Child poverty rates are nearer 25% of all children. Unemployment rates of 5% are considered a “success” when the rate was virtually zero for most of the half century from 1935-85.

At the same time Maori and Pacific unemployment rates are more than double those of workers who are Pakeha.

Paying a miserly billion dollars over a 20 year period to “settle” all outstanding claims is a joke. The loss by Maori in real terms is many hundreds of times that figure. $1 billion is a little over 1% of this years government expenditure. Over the 20 year period since it began it would equal 0.1% or less.

Maori were victims of a colonial holocaust that sought to extinguish them as a people with their own land, language and culture. But Maori refused to go away.

The system that was established by the colonial settler state also found it useful to have Maori as a cheap, reserve agricultural labour force. After world war two Maori and Pacific workers joined the new factories of South Auckland and Porirua – before those factories and jobs were destroyed again in the 1990s. Out of exploitation and oppression a new resurgence of Maori emerged.

But racism remains real and pervasive. A small but telling example was provided on Campbell Live recently when they got a Maori male and a Pakeha male to try and buy petrol from 5 pre-pay petrol stations. Same clothes and car. The result was infuriating but we knew it was coming. The Maori was asked to pre-pay in 4 of the 5 stations. The Pakeha was allowed to fill their car at all 5 without pre-paying.

The daily humiliations and indignities like the petrol station episode are bad enough.

But then there is the institutionalised racism that sees Maori make up 50% of the prison population but only 15% of the general population. Maori know why.

You are much more likely to be stopped on the street by a cop if you are Maori. Once stopped you are then much more likely to be arrested for some reason. You are then more likely to be charged and go to court (rather than a warning or diversion). You are then more likely to be convicted. You are then more likely to be given a custodial sentence rather than a fine or home detention.

The cumulative impact is obvious.

The same (but opposite) is true for the health system. Rather than more attention you get less. For example – Maori males are much more likely to suffer heart disease but get treated at a rate that is far less than the prevalence of the disease would indicate.

Capitalism has an extraordinary ability to use each and every difference between people to justify unequal treatment (and of course pay).

Insofar as working people accept the prejudices used to justify this inequality they do themselves a disservice.

I do not mean that workers who are white don’t get a “better” deal than workers who are brown. That is a fact in life. I have a “better” chance of getting a job. I have a “better” chance of being given a flat. But if I start thanking my boss or my landlord for my good fortune in life I will end up on the wrong side of history. But more than that even in the more short to medium term I believe we damage our own economic and social interests by thinking the privileges are worth “protecting” by siding with our masters against our fellow workers who are struggling against inequality.

It is not by sucking up to our “betters” that we move society forward. It is only by unity and struggle by ordinary people against all reactionary ruling classes – including our modern-day capitalist ones that social progress has been made. Only struggle progressively brought the working day down from 12 to 10 and then eight hours. And it is our failure to struggle that has seen the working day put back to 12 or more for many workers while many others can’t even get 8 hours work. Only struggle forced a welfare state to be established. Only struggle gave the right to vote to women.

The reason we are going backwards today is because the union movement (and the broader labour movement) was housebroken. Our party (Labour in the 1990s) even became an instrument for our enemies. Demoralised and disoriented we often fell into the trap of blaming someone easily at hand for the trouble we faced rather than the system.

We are not taught to think in class terms by our education system and never will be. It has to be learn’t through struggle. If we can’t see who is profiting from unemployment, recession, slashing wages, and cutting welfare – the ruling rich- then we will fall for what seems “common sense.”

It seems “common sense” that if I don’t have a job it was taken by an immigrant. It seems “common sense” that If my kid can’t get into University it is because someone else (maybe a Maori on a Ngai Tahu scholarship) who got there ahead of my child. Why does the Maori kid have “more rights” than my kid I am encouraged to ask.

While I am blaming someone else for my problem I am treating it as a personal failure that I don’t have a job or my kid has missed the education he deserves. It may be because someone else has a “unfair” advantage but it is still personal problem. I aren’t blaming “the system”.

Where this leads is demonstrated by the position of working people who are white in the southern United States and occupied Northern Ireland.

The poorest sections of the working class of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is that situated in the North of Ireland. One section is Catholic and is marginally poorer than the other section which is Protestant. They are both in that abysmal situation because the working class which is Protestant thanks that defending its “privileges” over it Papist enemy means it must support the British imperial order and its state rather than fight together with the even poorer Catholic neighbours against the rotten system that is condemning them both. Imperialism’s ability to cut off this northern enclave also held back progress for the liberated southern part of the island.

The same has been true in the Unites States. A hotel housekeeper in New York state gets $20 an hour under a union contract. A worker in Mississippi and other “right to work” states in the southern USA is lucky to get $5 an hour and no union representation.

The reason for the difference was a system of racial separation and terror that was allowed to be established in the South after the defeat of the slave holders in the civil war. In the process chances of interracial unity and struggle was set back for generations.

With adult male suffrage after the Civil War hundreds of thousands of blacks and a similar number of poor whites registered for the elections. Prior to the Civil War, landowners were the only social group who had the privilege to vote, excluding the majority of poor, landless whites from active political participation. Freed slaves and poor whites cooperated in establishing radical regimes in the South that began to pass laws in favour of labour rights, free public education, hospitals, roads and modest welfare measures. These regimes were eventually overthrown by force once federal troops were withdrawn and the Klu Klux Klan established as a terrorist militia to enforce racial segregation. It is this legacy that still lives in the continuing inability of the US trade union movement to ever establish itself as a serious presence in the former slaveholding states in the South.

The overthrow of radical reconstruction was a gigantic defeat for Black people in the USA but it was also the biggest defeat suffered by the US workers movement and has crippled or restricted its progress ever since.

Inline images 3

The left has to take these prejudiced views seriously. They are wrong. They can be refuted with facts. Genetics has confirmed we are all essentially the same. Ignoring prejudices however will not make them go away.

But we can only really defeat them when we are struggling together. It’s hard to hold a grudge against the Maori, Islander, Immigrant or “welfare cheat”: who is holding a placard beside you on the picket line and getting battened by the same copper who is battening you. But if we don’t struggle then the cancer will keep eating away at what I believe is our more fundamental human character – solidarity.

It is solidarity that will lead us out of this dog eat dog system that is capitalism. It is solidarity that will bring an end to the shallow, mean, selfish morality that goes with capitalism. It is solidarity that will recreate a value system that sees everyone as a human being of worth and value that should be treasured until they have met their full potential.

But if the human and social organism is not nourished by solidarity then cancerous mutations – fascism being the worst historical example – can emerge victorious.

(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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