Unite (NZ)

Migrant labour, exploitation and 'free' markets

 

 

 

By Mike Treen

 

October 27, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Currently, New Zealand has at least 150,000 people working on temporary work visas or as students with the right to work up to 20 hours a week or full-time when on vacation. Most of them have hopes of being able to transition towards permanent residence, yet official figures confirm only one in six is able to do so. Government policies have deliberately led to the creation of a huge pool of desperately vulnerable workers to help big business exploit them more effectively.

 

 

Immigration policy under “free market” economies are designed to keep working people down – not out. While mainstream politicians routinely resort to subtle (and not so subtle) racist smears on migrants, government policies actually facilitate further migration. Capitalist “democracies” love to have large segments of the working class with no, or very few, rights – and that is true for New Zealand as well.

 

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Unite Union's fast-food workers take on corporations and win!

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 Unite fast-food delegates at a national gathering on February 14 take time out to picket a McDonald's store to launch the campaign publicly.

By Mike Treen, Unite national director

May 18, 2105 -- Unite Union, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Workers in the fast food industry in Aotearoa/New Zealand scored a spectacular victory over what has been dubbed “zero hour contracts” during a collective agreement bargaining round over the course of March and April this year.

Mike Treen: Une critique de la théorie des crises

[English text and video at http://links.org.au/node/4156.]

Mike Treen, directeur national du syndicat Unite, explique pourquoi le capitalisme continue à connaître des crises aujourd’hui, et pourquoi ces crises vont se répéter avec une sévérité accrue jusqu’à ce que les travailleurs prennent le pouvoir et imposent une propriété, un contrôle et une planification démocratiques pour répondre aux besoins à la fois de l’humanité et de Mère Nature.

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Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Ce qui suit est basé sur les propos de Mike Treen, directeur national du syndicat néozélandais Unite, à la conférence annuelle de l’organisation socialiste Fightback, qui s’est tenue à Wellington, 31 mai – 1er juin 2014, et un séminaire hébergé par Socialist Aotearoa le 12 octobre. Traduit par Gabriel Stollsteiner

Thoughts on reform, revolution, social change and elections in light of SYRIZA's win

Hugo Chavez and supporters at Chavez’s final campaign rally in Caracas on October 4, 2013, three days before his re-election as president.

Click for more discussion of SYRIZA, Latin America and revolutionary organisation

By Mike Treen, director of the Unite union in Aotearoa/New Zealand

February 19, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The election of the radical left-wing SYRIZA party in Greece and a possible victory of the similarly radical party Podemos in Spain has raised the hopes of millions of people across Europe and the globe that we can put an end to austerity-type policies, put in place policies that will protect working people from the capitalist crisis and advance society to a new era of social justice governments.

Mike Treen: SYRIZA victory in Greece a blow to austerity

Crowd at SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' victory speech, January 25, 2015. Photo by Vivian Messimeris/GLW.

By Mike Treen, director UNITE union (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

February 5, 2015 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The longer the SYRIZA government can survive and resist the better chance working people throughout Europe can act to remove right wing austerity governments and mobilise their own power through their unions and communities to create an alternative to the Europe of capitalism, recession and despair.

Mike Treen: A critique of crisis theory

November 10, 2014 -- Mike Treen, Unite Union national director, discusses why capitaism continues to have crises today and why they will continue with increasing severity until working people take power and impose democratic ownership, control and planning to suit the needs of both humanity and Mother Earth.

November 10, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following is based on talks given by Mike Treen, national director of the New Zealand Unite Union, at the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback, held in Wellington, May 31-June 1, 2014, and a seminar hosted by Socialist Aotearoa in Auckland on October 12.

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The National Business Review reported a comment by New Zealand's minister of finance Bill English on August 15 that he had occasionally pointed out in speeches to business audiences that New Zealand has had post World War Two recessions roughly every 10 years: in 1957-58; 1967-68; the mid-1970s; the mid-1980s; 1997-98 and 2007-8. He would observe laconically: “You'd think we would see them coming.”

But of course bourgeois economists, commentators and journalists don't generally see them coming. One problem, however, is that sometimes the Marxist alternative sees them coming a little too often.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: The tasks before the left and labour movement

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By Mike Treen, Unite Union national director

September 28, 2014 -- Daily Blog -- Anyone on the left would have been disappointed at the result of the September 20 general election. There was an opportunity to win, but that got lost through a combination of factors. There were tactical decisions made by Labour Party, the Greens and Internet-Mana that contributed to the defeat. Each party needs to have a discussion on what those were.

However, the defeat was the product of objective conditions in the first instance.

'Do unto apartheid Israel what you did to apartheid South Africa': trade unions protest attack on Gaza

Resolution on Palestine adopted by Unite Union (Aotearoa/New Zealand), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

July 18, 2014 -- Over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions and other organisations including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions issued a call in July 2005 for a global campaign of boycotts and divestment against Israel similar to those imposed against South African Apartheid.

Unite Union will work to

1. Demand the Israeli Government immediately withdraw from the occupied territories and abide by UN resolution 242 which requires Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders.

2. Support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until it meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Matt McCarten stuns friends and foes, joins Labour Party staff

Matt McCarten and David Cunliffe protest for workers' rights in 2010. Photo / Getty Images

Matt McCarten and Labour Party leader David Cunliffe protest for workers' rights in 2010. Photo: Getty Images.

March 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Long-time New Zealand left stalwart and leader of the militant Unite trade union stunned friends and foes alike with his sudden announcement that he is joining the staff of the New Zealand parliamentary Labour Party leader David Cunliffe.

Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts McCarten's final weekly column from the NZ Herald on Sunday, as well as a number of reactions from the NZ left.

Inequality will be the issue for 2014

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By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

January 14, 2014 -- The Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of the author -- Everyone from the Pope Francis to US President Barack Obama is bemoaning the effect that inequality is having on the world today. It is even being blamed for the depth of the economic recession and the weakness of the current recovery because it is claimed that poorer people spend a larger portion of their income than the rich who save more and thus more equal income would help revitalise the economy.

Unite union leader on the struggle against climate change, and for socialism

Mike Treen on the picket line. If trade unions take up the challenge, they could become “the voice for a boldly different economic model, one that provides solutions to the attacks on working people, on poor people, and the attacks on the Earth itself".

By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

December 2, 2013 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The continuing pretense that world governments will do anything about climate change was exposed once more at the latest round of climate negotiations held in Poland November 11-22. This was the 19th round of annual negotiations.

It is 21 years since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Emissions are 60-70% higher than they were then. Global warming has proceeded at an accelerating pace. As a great article by economic historian Richard Smith notes:

What might a socialist world look like?

November 29, 2012 -- Socialist Aotearoa -- Mike Treen, life-long socialist and national director of the Unite Union, describes what a socialist society might look like. 

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Call for international solidarity with Burger King workers

By Joe Carolan

August 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Workers employed by the Burger King fast-food chain, organised by the Unite Union in Aotearoa/New Zealand, are suffering a sustained union-busting campaign, and are now fighting back.

Burger King workers are the lowest-paid fast food workers in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Most are on the minimum wage, even some who have worked there for 15 years. Managers on salary are forced to work extra hours, and sometimes work for less than the minimum wage per hour. Many workers in Burger King are migrant workers, mostly from the Indian subcontinent. They face a bonded labour system. They are terrified of speaking out about mistreatment in case the company revokes their visa sponsorship .

Now the company has tried to bust their union, and is seeking an injunction stopping them from speaking to the media and conducting teach-ins in the community. Unite has taken the company to the Employment Authority, detailing the company's illegal anti-union activities, in a battle that is now shaping up to be the McLibel case of the South Pacific.

Unite union appeals to workers in other countries to organise pickets outside Burger King outlets in all the great cities of the world in solidarity with our fight.

Our fight is for the low-paid precarious workers.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: A new working-class, pro-Maori political voice

Hone Harawira speaks at the Mana Party launch.
MANA- 1. (noun) prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma.

May 11, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Mike Treen is national director of the Unite Union in Aotearoa/New Zealand and a member of the newly formed Mana Party. Socialist Aotearoa’s Joe Carolan interviewed him on the significance of the foundation of this new left-wing party.

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Joe Carolan:  Mike, can you tell us a little about the formation and programme of the new Mana Party?

New Zealand: Matt McCarten on Unite and the prospects for a new left party

Matt McCarten (right) campaigning for better pay.

December 7, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Matt McCarten is secretary of the New Zealand's fastest growing union, Unite. The union organises fast-food workers, cleaners, hotel and casino workers, security and part-time staff. It has a financial membership of 8000 members. The transient nature of the industries the union organises means it has an annual membership turnover of 66 per cent and recruits about 600 new members every month. The union operates on an income of just over 1 million dollars per annum.

McCarten is a veteran of many left campaigns, including playing a key role in the foundation of the New Labour Party following the split from the New Zealand Labour Party in 1989. It was his leadership in the historic 1985 occupation of the Sheraton Hotel with the Hotel and Hospital Workers Union that put McCarten in the national spotlight. He writes a weekly column for the Herald on Sunday.

New Zealand: The battle for Mana -- a new left votes


November 11, 2010 -- Matt McCarten’s Mana by-election campaign has taken up the issue of housing, identifying many empty state houses in the electorate, while families are homeless. Four campaigners were arrested after they took over an empty house.

By Joe Carolan

New Zealand: Matt McCarten for Mana! It's time for a new left

In a wide-ranging Radio New Zealand interview on October 17, 2010, Matt McCarten discusses atheism, socialism, neoliberalism, the IWW, working class history and the need for a new left party.

Listen here | Download here (45 mins)

For the latest on Matt's campaign, visit http://www.matt4mana

By Joe Carolan

New Zealand socialists target bad banks and low wages

Representatives of New Zealand left organisations attended the Australian Socialist Alliance's recent national conference. In the following interviews, conducted by the Australian socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly, they explain the political situation in New Zealand and talk about the key campaigns they are involved in.

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By Paola Harvey

January 30, 2010 -- Although New Zealand, like Australia, has not been as badly affected by the global economic crisis as the US or Europe, workers are facing hardship. Bronwen Beechey, an activist from Socialist Worker New Zealand (SWNZ), told Green Left Weekly: “There have been a lot of redundancies, places have been closed down.”

Beechey and SWNZ activist Peter Hughes were in Sydney to attend the January 3-6 Socialist Alliance national conference. They spoke to GLW about the SWNZ’s “bad banks” campaign, which takes aim at the cause of the global financial crisis — neoliberal capitalism.

New Zealand: What has happened to real wages since1982?

By Mike Treen

Official data on wage movements in New Zealand point to a real wage decline of around 25% between 1982 and the mid-1990s that has never been recovered.

There have been two series measuring wages in the period – the Prevailing Weekly Wage Index (discontinued in June 1993) and its replacement the Labour Cost Index. I have created a continuous series based on the LCI series back to 1982 (by adjusting the PWWI numbers before December 1992 when PWWI at 1000 was equivalent to the LCI at 868). These numbers are in turn deflated by the CPI index covering the whole period.

What is revealed is that by the mid-1990s real wages had declined at least 25%. There has been no recovery since then and real wages remain 25% below their 1982 peak. This result can be directly attributed to the combination of the massive deunionisation as a result of the anti-union employment laws and the recession that accompanied it in the early 1990s.

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