New Zealand’s Unite union has made great progress in recent years in organising previously unorganised sectors of workers ― often young workers in fast food, hospitality and retail. Through organising workers, Unite has forced fast food giants, such as McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut, to eradicate “youth wages”, which pay young workers less for the same work.
Matt McCarten is the secretary of New Zealand’s fastest growing union, Unite. The union organises fast-food workers, cleaners, hotel, casino, security and part-time staff. It has a financial membership of 8000 members. The transient nature of these industries means Unite has an annual membership turnover of 66%. It recruits about 600 new members every month.
“In a daring and audacious move, Matt McCarten, general secretary of the Unite union, announced his candidacy in the November 20, Mana by-election in Wellington”, Unite campaigns organiser Joe Carolan said in an October 26 Socialist Aotearoa article. Carolan said McCarten “has had a quarter of century experience fighting for New Zealand’s poorest workers … standing as a member of the independent left, he would make an excellent champion for the thousands of low-paid and unemployed workers in Mana”.
In a daring and audacious move, Matt McCarten, General Secretary of the Unite Union, announced his candidacy in the Mana By Election in Wellington earlier today. Matt has had a quarter of century's experience fighting for New Zealand's poorest workers, and was a founding member of both the New Labour Party and the Alliance. Now standing as a member of the Independent Left, he would make an excellent champion for the thousands of low-paid and unemployed workers in Mana.
About 15,000 New Zealand workers joined the “Fairness at Work” National Day of Action on October 20, highlighting growing opposition to the government's proposed employment law changes, said the country’s largest private sector union, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU). At least 7000 people packed the TelstraClear Pacific Stadium in Auckland and 4000 rallied outside parliament in Wellington. Thousands turned out in regional centres including Hamilton, Hastings and Nelson.
During UN Disarmament Week (October 24-31), a bill to enact the UN Convention banning Cluster Munitions is to be tabled in the House of Representatives. However, it is unlikely to contain a provision prohibiting financial institutions from funding manufacturers of cluster bombs. It has been found that the ANZ bank has provided loans of $136.5 million to producers of cluster bombs.
“History was made early today on the other side of the world”, said Grant Morgan, an Auckland-based organiser of the Kia Ora Gaza convoy bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s siege. Kia Ora is a six-person New Zealand team that has joined the Viva Palestina covoy. “The vicious Israeli siege of Gaza has been broken by an international aid convoy of 400 volunteers from 30 countries driving 150 vehicles carrying vital medical supplies worth NZ$7 million.”
Comparisons must be made between the impact of the September 5 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the quake that hit Haiti in January. In Haiti — with a population of about 9 million — about 250,000 people died in the earthquake. According to government figures, 200,000 were injured and 1 million were made homeless. Eight months later, disaster still grips people’s lives. Fortunately, but in staggering contrast, no lives were lost in New Zealand, although the earthquake was of a similar — but slightly more powerful — magnitude (7 on the Richter scale).
The call for action against New Zealand-owned Burger Fuel chain for anti-worker practices below is reprinted from Unityaotearoa.blogspot.com. Campaigners have called for international action targetting Burger Fuel, which has two Sydney stores in Newtown and Kings Cross. Campaigners have called for coordinated pickets of Burger Fuel stores on Saturday, September 4.
New Zealand’s National Party-led government announced on July 18 a law that would allow bosses to fire new workers at will, restrict access to unions, cut workers’ entitlements to sick leave and holidays, and remove the right to appeal against unfair sackings. On August 21, unions will respond with rallies across the country. The two most significant aspects of the government’s plans are the extension of 90-day “trial period” and a requirement for union organisers to gain permission from employers before visiting union members or potential recruits on the job.