Tag Archives: Matt McCarten

Workers news 3/1/13

3 Jan

CTU: MBIE and Forest Owners Collude to Deny Workers Info http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1212/S00339/mbie-and-forest-owners-collude-to-deny-workers-info.htm

Christchurch teachers vote for strike action, challenge law http://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/christchurch-teachers-vote-for-strike-action-challenge-law/

Treasury documents show charter schools plan must be dumped http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1212/S00400/treasury-documents-show-charter-schools-plan-must-be-dumped.htm

Matt McCarten: The MPs who could and should have done better http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10856531

Fee rise a bitter pill to swallow for many http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/8123840/Fee-rise-a-bitter-pill-to-swallow-for-many

CTU: Public surgical centres should not be run by private contractors http://union.org.nz/news/2012/public-surgical-centres-should-not-be-run-private-contractors

Shocking disparities exist in child obesity – expert http://www.voxy.co.nz/health/shocking-disparities-exist-child-obesity-expert/5/143351

Beneficiary ‘Impact’ Sees Shocking Need for Food Grants http://www.indymedia.org.nz/articles/561

Child abuse fueled by poverty and lack of support – paediatrician http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10857042

STATS OF THE WEEK

Twenty years ago, the CEO of fast-food giant McDonald’s pocketed compensation that equaled about 230 times the pay of a full-time McDonald’s worker paid the federal minimum wage. The $8.75 million the McDonald’s CEO took home last year, notes a Bloomberg analysis, topped the take-home of a full-time McDonald’s minimum wage worker by 580 times.

Net worth of world’s richest rose by $241B in 2012: The richest people on the planet got richer in 2012, adding $241 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 100 wealthiest individuals. http://is.gd/ZYvbqT

Cost of War in Iraq & Afghanistan Since 2001 = $1,409,195,692,685 http://www.costofwar.com/

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism.” Pope Benedict XVI , annual New Year’s message, January 1, 201

“Economic inequality begets political inequality and vice versa. Then the very vision that makes America special — upward mobility and opportunity for all — is undermined. One person, one vote becomes one dollar, one vote. That is not democracy. That is political decay.” Joseph Stiglitz, The price of inequality, Christian Science Monitor, October 17, 2012

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Matt McCarten: Far more to Shearer than media-pleasing glibness

18 Nov

nzherald.co.nz
By Matt McCarten Email Matt
5:30 AM Sunday Nov 18, 2012At times David Cunliffe comes across in the media as calculating. Photo / NZ Listener
At times David Cunliffe comes across in the media as calculating. Photo / NZ Listener

I don’t think there’s anyone in New Zealand who believes David Shearer has the speechifying eloquence of David Lange or the intimate television connection of Prime Minister John Key.

It’s a sad commentary on modern politics that these two skills are the basic prerequisites of any successful political leader. We live in a media world where fakery, shallow quips and acting skills are expected of any aspirant to high office.

Shearer, a man with a serious job doing real work before becoming a politician, has been a bit slow to catch on.

His international experience negotiating with murdering sociopathic warlords or leading disparate groups to reach outcomes that saved lives are not the sort of skills that the chattering elements of our political classes respect.

His detractors leading up to this weekend’s Labour Party conference seem to home in on his lack of ability to master sound bites and speaking without pauses.

For that crime, a vocal firing squad demands he be replaced by the earlier defeated nominee David Cunliffe.

I’d be more sympathetic if the tension was about policy differences. But it’s not.

All the future leadership contenders are singing from the same policy hymn book. The criticism boils down to style and presentation. There’s no doubt Cunliffe is a gifted performer. What is discomforting is his every nuance and action seems calculated.

With Shearer you can sense his real character. With Cunliffe, I can’t escape the feeling that he has the same phoniness as the Republican US presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

You couldn’t find a better example than Guyon Espiner’s superb piece in the NZ Listener. Presumably, it was timed to remind the Labour Party faithful a few days before their conference that Cunliffe is still a viable alternative for those with buyers’ remorse on Shearer.

The original Ponsonby cafe interview venue was changed because the subject didn’t want his potential blue collar supporters to think he was some latte-sipping w***** swanning around Auckland’s liberal ghetto. The fact he lives a stone’s throw from Ponsonby Rd (miles away from his New Lynn electorate) reveals more.

Cunliffe’s angst with his interviewer about where he should be photographed was plain narcissism. Not at the beach as he could be lampooned as if his career were drowning; not on a lawn or he could described as a snake in the grass.

A satire scriptwriter high on cocaine couldn’t make this stuff up.

The point I’m making is that obsessing about managing superficiality in the media shouldn’t be prioritised over character.

That said, Shearer’s public presentation weakness is real. He hasn’t understood the importance and urgency of overcoming this problem. After this week we can safely conclude he has got it now.

But let’s be fair, this guy has been in the leadership for nine months. Everyone waxes over the formidable presence of Clark. Have they forgotten Clark’s early years as party leader? Remember when she was 2 per cent in preferred leader stakes? It took years for her to get out of single figure poll support. She had to get a new hairstyle, a new voice and a new wardrobe and lead the party for six years before victory.

What you want from a leader is political success. For that you need only look at the recent polls. Under Shearer’s leadership the gap between Labour and National has halved from 20 points to 10. In the past three polls Labour, the Greens and NZ First have together outpolled National and her allies. Shearer’s personal ratings surpass anything Goff got or Clark reached in her early years.

Shearer’s success is remarkable given he is up against our most popular prime minister in living memory. I would have thought a standing ovation was in order.

Provided Shearer takes some serious time out over the summer to work on his media and presentation skills, and assuming in the new year he shows courage by promoting talent over non-performers onto his front bench, his party will coast to victory at the next election. A bit of unity and patience wouldn’t be a bad thing.

By Matt McCarten Email Matt

Matt McCarten: The human cost in our capitalist competition

23 Oct

Herald on Sunday October 21, 2012

Small towns and communities are losing to The Warehouse. Photo / Dexter Murray

By Matt McCarten Email Matt

This week my favourite retailer vanished

I was confused when I couldn’t find his shop doorway and had to pace backwards and forwards to try to find the signage. It took a few seconds to dawn on me that part of my history had been replaced by a papered-over front window.

I’d known my retailer and his family for almost three decades.

I used to be a daily customer and even after I moved out of the area I managed to drop in regularly.

My guy never failed to greet me and other customers by our first names. He was always relentlessly positive and you never left his store without feeling your spirit had lifted. He knew all his products and if he didn’t have something, he’d offer to order it.

A few years ago one of those box retail chain stores opened down the street. Initially, little changed but in recent times I noticed gaps in his shelves.

The last time I saw him his cheerfulness was strained and his smile fixed.

On the brink of tears he told me he couldn’t compete with the chain store and his mounting debts had caught up with him. I hoped he’d be able to continue to eke out a living.

We know abstractly that in our capitalist economic system it’s the natural order of things that big corporations eat smaller businesses to grow bigger still.

When we see the human cost it’s difficult to be so philosophical.

And now he is gone.

It was cruel irony on Friday that I read a glowing article in the Business Herald on the hundreds of jobs being created in a new Warehouse and a couple of supermarkets in Silverdale on Auckland’s North Shore.

I could feel the pride of new employees who were so enthusiastic and grateful for a chance to earn a living with a big employer. It may not be full time and the workers may have to give up their evenings and weekends, but it’s the price for having the dignity of work.

I wasn’t sure if the writer was being sarcastic when he mentioned a 17-year-old young woman was “happily” doing a 50km round trip each day to get to work. Given it would cost her more than $100 a week from her after-tax minimum wage, she’s certainly a trooper.

What wasn’t said, of course, was that opponents of these giant national retailers claim that for every job they create, one-and-a-half existing jobs are lost as they squeeze smaller retailers out of business and use their dominance to reduce the margins of their suppliers, who also shed staff to stay operating.

Just about every small town has lost its battle with The Warehouse. It’s hard to resist the lure of cheaper prices of goods from countries such as China.

Trading our local small community business owners who know us with faceless staff in the same corporate uniforms, trained to say and act in the exact same way, is one thing.

But now it seems these corporates are moving to the next level of reducing costs and maximising profit.

Have you noticed how The Warehouse and supermarkets now expect us to check out and pack our own goods? If we insist on a checkout operator, do you notice the fewer stations and longer waits? Eventually, the only human we’ll see is a security guard making sure we don’t pinch anything.

After using a convenient free carpark, I sat in the comfort of my air-conditioned mall where it never rains or is windy, musing over the fate of my former shopkeeper.

For good reason we should blame faceless corporations and the Stephen Tindalls of this world for destroying our way of life.

But we bear some of the responsibility by accepting the demise of our local communities, where everyone knows our names.

We have traded it for the impersonal but convenient shopping malls and sheds where no one even cares to ask.

Welcome to the future.

Matt McCarten: Vector cheques powerful ploy just before the vote

16 Oct

Herald on Sunday 14/10/12

By Matt McCarten Email Matt
Voting papers have gone out to elect members of the AECT. Photo / Michael Craig

Voting papers have gone out to elect members of the AECT. Photo / Michael Craig

Evidence of what I regard as one of the country’s most dodgy pieces of electoral behaviour landed in Auckland isthmus and Manukau letterboxes this week.

The people behind this breathtaking cynicism were the five incumbents on what’s called the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust. Jenny Shipley, when Prime Minister, set it up after she abolished electricity boards. It owns $2 billion Vector power company shares. The trustees stand for election every three years. Their only job is to pay out Vector’s dividends.

The incumbent trustees are all up for re-election. And they have rigged the game. Two weeks before ballot papers were sent out they posted a cheque for $320 to every household where a voter lives. The cash handout came to $100 million.

Even more blatantly, they then ran a mass advertising campaign promoting themselves as the people responsible for this largesse. They got the trust to pick up the entire bill as part of $1 million spent on getting the grants out there.

When questioned, they said they were bound by the trust deed which dictated the timing of the payout and it was an unfortunate coincidence. Really?

That line fell over when the New Zealand Herald‘s David Fisher, a former chief reporter on this paper, exposed that the trustees themselves took a case to court so they could choose the timing of the payout. And they won that right.

I’m sure that had the judge realised the trustees intended to send cheques to voters just days before they voted there would have been a different decision.

If you are curious why the incumbents would go so to such lengths to protect their jobs you need to understand that all these trustees have been on a cushy number for six or nine years. They collect $63,000 to $90,000 a year to attend the occasional meeting. This year’s annual report was two pages long – twice as long as their previous report.

With all this extra time on their hands two of them get to appoint themselves to the Vector board to pick up another $100,000. Not a bad earner for a part-time job.

They’ve manipulated the system to keep their place at the trough by in effect getting the trust to pay for their election campaign. They send money to the electors just before the vote and then have the trust promote them as the givers. No challenger can beat that.

The cost of a campaign to 300,000 households is prohibitive. For example, both John Banks and Len Brown each had to stump up with close to $1 million for their mayoral campaigns. All the political parties, except National, raised less than $1 million for their national campaigns at the last election.

Could you imagine, two weeks before election day, John Key (or Helen Clark in 2008) sending a cheque to every voter from the public purse and then taking out taxpayer-funded full-page advertisements giving themselves and their party the credit?

That’s what the politicians on the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust have done. Even the most ethically challenged politician would blush at the antics of the incumbents. They smugly assume they’ll get away with it because most of us wouldn’t have a clue how they’ve manipulated us.

When we got an unexpected cheque two weeks ago we would have been pleasantly surprised. We’d vaguely note the faces and names of the people who gave it to us. And low and behold a few days later we get a ballot with the same five people asking us for our vote so they can keep giving us money.

Only one in eight people voted last time. On this basis, the incumbents will be expecting to romp home. This is where you come in. In the ballot you will see just 12 candidates. It’s a straight contest between the incumbents, under the banner Communities and Residents, and the challengers, the Your Power Team.

Whoever wins, you’ll still get a cheque in the future.

If you haven’t yet received voting papers, contact the returning office on 0800 922 822. This isn’t about partisan politics.

Sometimes as citizens we must stand on principle. This is one of those times.

Vote all the incumbents out.

By Matt McCarten Email Matt

Union News to 10/10/12

10 Oct

WORKRIGHTS NZ

 

Demolition derby: National’s approach to solving unemployment by Sue Bradford http://pundit.co.nz/content/demolition-derby-nationals-approach-to-solving-unemployment

Teens hit back over proposed youth wage http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/7794054/Teens-hit-back-over-proposed-youth-wage

Youth wage seen as sending ‘a poor message’ http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbnat/1055361113-youth-wage-seen-as-sending–a-poor-message-

Call for same minimum wage for all workers http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/call-same-minimum-wage-all-workers-video-5124406

Dave Feickert: Dark day as coal mines shuttered http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10837523

Foot chopped off in accident at Port of Tauranga http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10839569

Indian workers keen to unite http://www.indianweekender.co.nz/Pages/ArticleDetails/7/3265/New-Zealand/Indian-workers-keen-to-unite

New Port union deal ‘inferior’ says MU http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/7775653/New-Port-union-deal-inferior-says-MU

Ports demo Teal Park Oct 5 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151250774682889.519811.596362888&type=1

Govt’s ‘starting out’ wage rubbished http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7787031/Govts-starting-out-wage-rubbished

Lower wages no solution https://unitenews.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/lower-wages-no-solution/

So-called ‘free market’ thrives on the enslavement of others http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/227867/so-called-free-market-thrives-enslavement-others

Helen Kelly on the Health and Safety Taskforce

Union joins international campaign for decent work http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1210/S00086/union-joins-international-campaign-for-decent-work.htm

Govt needs to send clear message about migrant work abuse http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1210/S00121/govt-needs-to-send-clear-message-about-migrant-work-abuse.htm

Key’s Film Jobs Being Filled by Migrants http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1210/S00081/keys-film-jobs-being-filled-by-migrants.htm

Maritime Union laughs off rival in Auckland port dispute http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10838820

The Union Report with Syd Keepa & Laila Harre: Issue 1: How significant a step between Maoridom and the Union movement was the Tauranga hui last month? Issue 2: Solid Energy jobs on the line – what should Government do to protect them? Issue 3: How does publishing National Standards on line help parents make decisions? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM1gX89KdIs&list=UU7Jit_xt-bd0g_Z8CIneUeg

NZ probe into child labour claims http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10838723

Korean fishing firm gags crew with ‘peace’ contract http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7779794/Korean-fishing-firm-gags-crew-with-peace-contract

Tiwai workers want Govt intervention http://www.3news.co.nz/Tiwai-workers-want-Govt-intervention/tabid/421/articleID/271703/Default.aspx

Crew who fled fishing boat seek $917,000 http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/7754330/Crew-who-fled-fishing-boat-seek-917-000

POVERTY & WELFARE DEBATE

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: The politicisation of poverty http://www.nzherald.co.nz/best-of-political-analysis/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502734&objectid=10839172

Solutions sought to poverty http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/7777248/Solutions-sought-to-poverty

Protester’s plea to minister http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10839487

Hunger striker fights for kids http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/northland/northern-news/7788321/Hunger-striker-fights-for-kids

Harawira praises hunger striker http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10837346

Sam Kuha facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sam-Kuha-Campaign/466039110107129

Over 57,000 benefits sanctioned http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/15079608/over-57-000-benefits-sanctioned/

Nation-wide protests oppose welfare reforms http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/nation-wide-protests-oppose-welfare-reforms-5116865

Matt McCarten: No need to starve yourself, just give poor some more http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10838827

Child Poverty Special report: Searching for a way out http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10838726

Six of the best ideas for change http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10838701

Jonathan Boston: Three myths about child poverty http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10839028

National Day of Action against Welfare Reforms – Mana Party http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1210/S00107/national-day-of-action-against-welfare-reforms-mana-party.htm

Battle against beneficiary bashing http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7759711/Battle-against-beneficiary-bashing

The latest issue of the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services’ newsletter Kete Kupu is now online. Kete Kupu includes information and commentary on a wide range of social service issues and provides updates and commentary on social service policy and practice. Some of the higlights of this September 2012 issue include: Help the Children’s Commissioner do well for our kids; Liability or Citizen? Welfare Reform; Income Inequality Reaches News Heights; Taking Action on Reducing Inequality; Poor Quality Housing is making our children & older people sick; Watch Out For Burnout; Quality of Care in Rest Homes http://www.nzccss.org.nz/uploads/publications/KeteKupu%2024%20%28web%29.pdf

Govt signals it will feed hungry kids http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10838730

Homeless problem demands attention http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7779779/Homeless-problem-demands-attention

Business eye on poverty report http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10838658

1400 Kiwis try poverty for a week http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10837292

NZ ECONOMY

EPMU call urgent meeting to tackle job crisis http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10839181

Kim Hill interviews journalist Max Rashbrooke on his upcoming book about the increasing divide between rich and poor in New Zealand – listen to: Max Rashbrooke – social inequality and boarding houses. http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/sat/sat-20121006-0940-max_rashbrooke_-_social_inequality_and_boarding_houses-048.mp3

Income survey shows stagnant incomes for most New Zealand families http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1210/S00052/income-survey-shows-stagnant-incomes-for-most-nz-families.htm

Jane Kelsey: Hollywood lays down its own law http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10839218

CTU: New ideas to manage the exchange rate welcomed http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1210/S00077/new-ideas-to-manage-the-exchange-rate-welcomed.htm

TPPWatch Action Bulletin #18 – 29 September 2012 http://www.nznotforsale.org/2012/10/01/tppwatch-action-bulletin-18-29-september-2012/

Aus banks making more money from Kiwis – Greens http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/7773762/Aus-banks-making-more-money-from-Kiwis-Greens

So-called ‘free market’ thrives on the enslavement of others http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/227867/so-called-free-market-thrives-enslavement-others

The case for Financial Transaction Taxes in NZ: A FACT SHEET http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/3084113/the-case-for-financial-transaction-taxes-in-nz-pdf-august-18-2011-5-28-pm-454k?da=y

Matt McCarten: Sam goes hungry because no one fights for him

24 Sep

nzherald.co.nz
By Matt McCarten
5:30 AM Sunday Sep 23, 2012A Winz office window was smashed. Photo / APN
A Winz office window was smashed. Photo / APN

I’ve spent most of this week in bed sick, so had the rare opportunity to listen to hours of radio talkback while lying semi-comatose.

Most of us live in an insular world of our own families, our work and our own interests.

The news about other people is what we hear manufactured through our mass media in sometimes sensational soundbites. Rarely does it impact on our lives directly, so it’s relegated to background noise.

Talkback land is different. Real people call with uncensored opinions. It can be rough and banal. Much of it is interesting. At times I felt like I was in a bar or a party somewhere. Most politicians, senior bureaucrats and business leaders have no idea how their bad decisions affect others.

Mid-afternoon on RadioLive I caught up with Sam, a “first-time caller” from Kaikohe. Sam told us he’d smashed the windows of his local Work and Income office with a hammer after the staff refused to give him a food parcel. He has been trespassed from the Winz office.

Sam is a 58-year-old invalid beneficiary. He was run over 20 years ago in a car accident. He lost an eye, an arm and a leg. Since then he’s spent his life in a wheelchair.

He raised his daughter as a sole parent while working in his own takeaway business. He owns his home.

Sam said he didn’t drink, take drugs or smoke. But after paying his fixed living costs, including his mortgage and insurances, there was virtually nothing left for food.

A week ago he had no money for food or petrol. Previously, budgeters had told Sam to go to Winz as he didn’t have enough to live on. So he was forced into setting out on a 4km journey in his electric wheelchair.

He took his bank account details and his budget to request an emergency food voucher. When he got there the first staffer wouldn’t even look at the figures and flatly turned him down. Another staffer agreed that no one could live on Sam’s budget but, as they had given him help twice before, and he wasn’t any different from anybody else, they weren’t allowed to help him.

Sam left humiliated. Only someone who has had the misfortune to rely on Winz can truly understand that.

He took the trip home again and starved for several days. Then a light went off. He made a pact with himself that he wouldn’t eat again until he died or this Government changed its policies so no other person would have to go through what he has had to.

To bring attention to his cause he wheeled back into town with a hammer. He smashed two windows of the Winz office before it opened. He hadn’t lost his temper. It was a political act.

The radio host asked if he was sorry. It kind of missed the point.

When Sam was asked if he had any empathy for the Winz staff, he wryly mentioned that they looked well-fed and comfortable.

The Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett, revels in her power over the poor. She preens when she’s criticised.

When interviewed about Sam, the best she could come up with was that violence was not acceptable.

Most politicians see what they do as a bit of a game. But political ideals can be the greatest calling where an individual is prepared to die to protect them.

Sam Kuha has unintentionally taken the Gandhi path of the peaceful hunger strike.

I don’t believe for a minute that Sam isn’t serious about taking his hunger strike to finality – it’s now almost two weeks old.

The wife of the US president, Michelle Obama, said earlier this month that people like her (and Bennett) who through good fortune rose above their humble beginnings should always remember that they didn’t do it alone. They had an obligation to not raise the drawbridge behind them.

How fitting that a starving invalid in a wheelchair is pitted against a well-coiffed, plump Cabinet minister. Who represents the real “bludgers”, as Bennett seems to think they are, in our society?

By Matt McCarten

The Union Report with EPMUs Rachel Mackintosh and Unites Matt McCarten (10/9/12)

11 Sep

Issue 1: From Tiwai Point to Spring Creek mines – how many more redundancies can communities take?

Issue 2: What does the BurgerKing dispute tell us about the real state of workers rights in NZ?

Issue 3: How do we tackle the overvalued NZ dollar that is hurting so many manufacturers and exporters?

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