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What would I be prepared to die (or worse) for?

Written By: - Date published: 10:21 am, March 26th, 2013 - 62 comments
Categories: business, International, labour, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

I am at the Governing Body meeting of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. The GB is the tripartite executive that governs the place. There are 33 union representatives on the GB and a fair few of them live in very dangerous circumstances because of their union activities in their home countries. It is our group that has to live with this thought for the three weeks we are together – that those we sit, eat and plan with may be arrested, jailed, tortured or killed when they get home.

Also in the GB are 56 representatives from Governments and 33 employer representatives. Some of these people are complicit in the oppression. The whole employers group including those from Business NZ have launched a serious attack on the supervisory mechanism of the ILO that scrutinises these countries and puts pressure on that in some cases helps keep some of these people safe.

Our group includes Abdulla Hussain. He is the Assistant General Secretary of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU). That he comes here each meeting and continues to insist that the human rights abuses in Bahrain continue to be discussed, knowing that on any return trip he could be jailed and worse makes me question what I would do in his situation. I hope I would be as brave as them. The GFBTU is the only non sectarian union centre in the region and took a lead role in the Arab Spring uprising in Bahrain.

The ILO is unique as an organisation in the UN. Not only is it tripartite but it sets international labour standards and has a supervisory mechanism to hear complaints when countries breach them. The most famous conventions guarantee Freedom of Association (ILO Convention 87) and Collective Bargaining (Convention 98). Unions and employers can take complaints against Governments who breach these conventions. Mostly they come from unions and in very serious circumstances. As an example of how important this process is the ILO was one of the very first international organisations Nelson Mandela visited when he was released from prison (before the end of Apartheid even) where he said:

Let us assure you that despite the thickness of the prison walls, all of us on Robben Island and other jails could hear your voices demanding our release very clearly. We drew inspiration from this. I knew from the very first day of our incarceration that in the end it would prove impossible for the apartheid system to keep us in its dungeons. We thank you that you refused to forget us. We thank you that you did not tire in your struggle. We thank you for your sense of humanity and your commitment to justice which drove you to reject the very idea that we should be imprisoned and that our people should be in bondage.

Last year I was here when Aung San Suu Kyi spoke acknowledging that the ILO persistence on the human rights issues in Burma had been significant and had compelled her to honour us with an early visit. The ILO continues to scrutinise Burma – all is not well there yet for sure.

Complaints of breaches of conventions are first considered by a Committee of Experts. This Committee is made up of some of the best judicial brains on the planet who scrutinise the complaints against the standards and give expert advice to the ILO Conference Committee on the Application of Standards which meets at the conference in June.

This Conference Committee then agrees a list of some of the cases examined by the Experts and debates them at conference giving them prominence and agreeing on conclusions regarding what it hears. It is here that the cases of Burma and South Africa got their hearings. It is the opinion of these Experts that on any interpretation of the Convention on Collective Bargaining, it includes the right to strike. This means that where unionists have been jailed for striking or where strikes have been deemed illegal or where national legislation outlaws striking the Committee has been clear that it is a breach of the Convention and these cases can be examined. The opinions of the experts have been used by judges in many countries as influential and they are very important as trade agreements now frequently reference compliance with these core conventions so having a mechanism that interprets them is essential. But now the experts are under attack and the whole supervisory mechanism is at risk. For those many unionists in jail in Bahrain for striking – this is a bitter blow.

Each year the list of cases to be considered at the conference is agreed between the unions and employers and then heard. In June last year the employers simply refused to agree a list – they effectively took it hostage and had a number of demands they wanted as ransom. Knowing workers had come to Geneva, in some cases risking their lives to be heard, was used as a trump card.

One demand included for a disclaimer to be attached to the expert report on the report effectively calling for judges to ignore them when considering cases relating to the conventions effectively seriously weakening the supervisory mechanism. When this was refused, they sought to remove all cases where the right to strike was at issue. In the end they couldn’t get what they wanted so they simply refused to agree a list and the thousand or so people that had come to Geneva to hear these cases (including very serious abuses in Fiji), went home having wasted their time and in some cases having put themselves in harms way for nothing.

The issue is continuing and the employers are continuing the strategy to try to damage the system. It is unclear if this year we will have a list of cases or if we do, it will be chosen on the basis of the most serious cases.

Business NZ was personally thanked by the employers spokesperson for the lead strategy role they played in this disruptive process last June – in a speech that took place right before the Aung San Suu Kyi address to the full house that had gathered there to hear her speak they were thanked! It attracted much comment to me I can tell you.

So here I sit – with my brothers from Bahrain, hoping that when I come back in June they will be here too, still fighting on, and that perhaps even the case against Bahrain might be examined by the conference committee. They return to a country where union executive members are still in jail and in particular the executives of the teachers, doctors and nurses unions. One was just sentenced to another 5 years. His daughter tweeted minutes after the verdict:

Mama’s tears are heartbreaking .. 563 days were hard .. 5 years are a nightmare.

I’m not yet ready to answer the question of how far I would go if this were me.

62 comments on “What would I be prepared to die (or worse) for?”

  1. Populuxe1 1

    Frankly Helen, I’d be more impressed if you could turn around the decline of the unions in the relatively cushy situation of liberal democratic New Zealand where you’re in very little danger of being thrown in gaol.

    • karol 1.1

      NZ unions will not become strong in isolation. The NZ government is uniting with overseas business interests to undermine unions. The struggle for strong unions in NZ needs to be part of a global struggle. And seriously, pop, do you really advocate standing by and doing nothing while unionists in other countries are in danger of loosing their lives?

      Excellent post, Helen – the kind of stuff we don’t see reported in the MSM.

      • Populuxe1 1.1.1

        Um, no, I advocate New Zealand unions getting their shit together, properly advancing their cause to potential members, and generally not letting this government walk all over them – and no, I really don’t think overseas unions have much to offer us, mainly because it has minimum impact on our far away national working environment in a globalised world – unless you want to encourage the idea that international solidarity can force one govenrmnet to put pressure on another government, which is not something to be enouraged. The primary focus of our unions should be our country.

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          So you’re willing to lend your support to the union movement in solidarity P1?

          Or just criticise the work that others do? I think I already know the answer.

          • Populuxe1 1.1.1.1.1

            Yes CV, being an arrogant prick I’m sure you would assume you know EVERYTHING. And yes you sad, bitter, armchair sniper, I am in a union and I strike when called upon. However, if the union movement wants to address its sad decline it needs to look to itself for part of the blame.

        • Daveo 1.1.1.2

          What do you think the union movement should be doing differently, given the current economic environment, the legal restraints they operate under and their huge under-resourcing problems? I’m interested to hear it, because so far all I’ve heard is an intimation that they should stop sending the CTU President to the ILO.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.2.1

            The union movement need to organise their members into profitable co-operative enterprises and begin the transition away from the ‘owner and employees’ model, to the ‘owner-employees’ model.

            • Daveo 1.1.1.2.1.1

              How exactly do they do that?

              • Bill

                How exactly do they do that?

                By making their members aware of the possibility of forming co-operatives/collectives.

                By writing literature on possible democratic structures and on the known pitfalls to be avoided.

                By making their members familiar with the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (1908).

                And if there’s no-one within the union movement with the knowledge or experience, then by talking to somebody like me, who has and disseminating the information they gather.

                And then bargaining with employers while holding the possibility for the formation of a collective/co-op at the forefront of their minds and incorporating that possibility into their industrual strategies.

                • Rogue Trooper

                  you are the person Bill to get things done

                • Colonial Viper

                  +1000

                  Labour aren’t going to deliver on anything groundbreaking in this area, but I bet the union movement could.

              • Blue

                “How do they do that?” the usual way any start-up business does, develop a business model, raise the capital amongst yourselves and take a risk with your own money, not someone elses.

                • Daveo

                  I think the idea of turning all workers into co-operative owners is worthy, but it’s not the panacea to our problems, and it’s certainly not what union members are demanding at the moment. Right now people want safe, skilled, secure and well paid jobs. Union education should involve thinking of alternatives to the current economic paradigm, but to suggest moving to co-ops tomorrow is the answer is naive.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I don’t really like your statement Daveo.

                    You raised the bar very high on what was originally suggested, trying to, it seems to me, kill the suggestion.

                    For starters:
                    – You talk of turning ALL workers into co-op owners. Thats stupid. No one (apart from you) suggested that. I suggest an initial aim of 5% of workers.

                    – You spoke of it being a PANACEA to ALL our problems. That’s stupid. No one (apart from you) suggested it would solve everything. I suggest that it will however strengthen the hand of unions when those co-ops can offer better jobs directly to compete with private employers.

                    – You spoke of union members not demanding co-op opportunities. Well, if the unions don’t raise the possibility how else will union members learn of it?

                    – You spoke of moving to co-ops TOMORROW. That’s stupid. No one (apart from you) suggested that. My suggestion is that a plan be formulated and carried out, step by step over say, 5 years.

                    • AmaKiwi

                      CV, I support you on cooperatives. There is no reason the people who do the work cannot also be the collective owners of the enterprise.

                      In most northern European countries a large company’s board of directors must, by law, include 30% union representatives.

                      Although many managers were horrified when this was first legislated, it has worked well. Workers also want the company to prosper. Workers can often bring profitable suggestions to the table that are outside the experience of the white collar managers.

                      Workers ARE the company. They should own it collectively or sit on the board of management.

    • fabregas4 1.2

      I’m on Helen’s side but its hard not to agree with this. Fiddling whilst Rome burns.

      • karol 1.2.1

        Actually, I think unions have been weakened in NZ as part of an international effort against unions generally. The Hobbit case shows how NZ unions can be both undermined by overseas corporates, but also strengthened through international solidarity.

    • millsy 1.3

      If the likes of Rodney Hide, and the rest of the right had their way, union members in NZ would be chucked in jail as well. Peter Jackson probably has come closest to making this happen. He has a fantasy of stringing up Actors Equity bods with piano wire. He would probably film it.

      Just saying…

  2. David 2

    Thanks Helen for the enlightening article. It is sad to see New Zealanders now playing an international role in attacking workers rights to the point of being prepared to risk the lives of participants in a conference they are attending. At the risk of sound like an old fogie – I never thought I would see the day…..

  3. Daveo 3

    Thanks for this Helen. It’s a perspective you wouldn’t see reported anywhere else. Keep up the good work.

  4. Rogue Trooper 4

    I’d “die for you”, Helen; for what greater thing can a man do than die for his friend!

  5. Blue 5

    Who would I die for? My family and my country.

  6. chris73 acualy is Dolan 6

    What would I be prepared to die (or worse) for? My wife, my country though I’d rather the other person died instead of me

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Worth killing for but not worth dying for?

      • chris73 acualy is Dolan 6.1.1

        If I’m alive I can better guarantee my wifes safety…

        like I said I would give my life but I’d prefer it if I could take the other persons life. I did consider what would happen if the SHTF in Timor, fortunately it didn’t but again it was a situation where I was prepared to put my life on the line but If given the choice between me or the other guy…

        • One Tāne Huna 6.1.1.1

          I don’t mean this to be offensive, I’m trying to figure out where you stand.

          Would you die to protect your wife from sexual harassment in the workplace?

          • chris73 acualy is Dolan 6.1.1.1.1

            No, killing someone over sexual harassment is overkill.

            I’d give the guy doing it a damn good hiding or rather I’d watch in amusement as my wife gave the guy a hiding (she has no problem smacking over guys)

            • One Tāne Huna 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Well that rather depends on the guy I guess, for you and your wife. So we can take that as a yes. You’d put yourself in harm’s way.

              What about if she were continually being passed over for promotion despite being better equipped than the men who got the jobs instead?

              Where do you say “this isn’t worth dying for”, and submit to it instead?

              And what if it involves a higher infant mortality rate?

              • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                What about if she were continually being passed over for promotion despite being better equipped than the men who got the jobs instead?

                – Find another job or start your own business, plenty of people men and women get passed for many different reasons

                And what if it involves a higher infant mortality rate?

                – As I posted before, what are you going to do about it?

                • One Tāne Huna

                  “what are you going to do about it?”

                  A facile question. Do you think there might be a better way to address the problem than whatever actions I might take? Do you think that action might be better addressed, for example, at a public policy level? By Parliament, for example?

                  If and when Parliament gets around to giving a toss about the harm’s way part of its duties, what kind of evidence do you think they should consider? Rational, peer reviewed evidence, or any old wingnut drivel?

                  • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                    So you asking me = fine, me asking you = facile…

                    • One Tāne Huna

                      That isn’t what I asked. I asked where you draw the line in the scale of human rights abuses. At which point do you say “that’s worth dying for”?

  7. One Tāne Huna 7

    It’s interesting how many people say “my country”. “Their” country is being betrayed as they speak, and many of them are cheering the betrayal. Invasion from outside? Fight to the end! Destruction from within? Bend over and cheer as your wages are cut and your human rights eroded.

    • chris73 acualy is Dolan 7.1

      Depends on your point of view I guess

      • One Tāne Huna 7.1.1

        So what are you dying for this week? 100% Middle Earth?

        • chris73 acualy is Dolan 7.1.1.1

          I’m just thankful we live in a society where we can express our personal opinions without fear of being slung in jail…

          • One Tāne Huna 7.1.1.1.1

            Does that mean you’re prepared to die to defend freedom of speech?

            How about freedom of assembly?

            Freedom from discrimination based on gender, age, race, etc?

            • chris73 acualy is Dolan 7.1.1.1.1.1

              I was in Timor as a peacekeeper and I prepared (as well as one could I guess) for the eventuality that I may well have been killed, if that answers your question.

              • One Tāne Huna

                Well, not quite.

                Being prepared to risk your life to defend people against what could have become a genocide is not the same as being prepared to do the same for equal pay for women, or youth.

                So where would you draw the line in New Zealand?

                Edit: and well done for the work in Timor.

                • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                  “Being prepared to risk your life to defend people against what could have become a genocide is not the same as being prepared to do the same for equal pay for women, or youth.”

                  I don’t consider equal pay for women, or youth to be on a par with genocide.

                  Personally I agree with youth rates and if women want to be paid more then its in their hands to do so.

                  • One Tāne Huna

                    I’m not suggesting they are on a par with genocide.

                    I’m asking where’s your bottom line?

                    You’re prepared to give up the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of youth or gender. What else are you prepared to submit to? Or more accurately, to wish on others?

                    • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                      What giving up, what submit to?

                      I agree with youth rates and if women want to be paid more then its in their own hands to be paid more.

                      How about you, what are you prepared to do or rather what you think what you might do in theory from the comfort of your own chair.

                    • One Tāne Huna

                      It’s a good question. I believe in the right to self-defence, and that extends to action in defence of others.

                      However, while I am (more-or-less) unlikely to be in a position to defend someone from a physical assault, I can see our infectious disease admission rates and our poor quality housing and recognise that they have much the same effect as an assault.

                      Obviously I have not taken violent action against this injustice, but neither have you, so perhaps that makes us both keyboard warriors.

                • Populuxe1

                  If you could possibly come up with a scenario in which one might actually have to risk one’s life for equal pay for women or youth, the resulting dystopia would have to be so fucked up as to render the example irrelevant. This isn’t the Middle East.

  8. Roy 8

    I’d die for any one of my kids. My country? Hell no.

  9. Populuxe1 9

    “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. “– E. M. Forster

    Though quite frankly I have no idea what I would do unless confronted with the situation

  10. infused 10

    A bacon and egg pie. God damm I’m hungry.

  11. chris73 acualy is Dolan 11

    To One Tāne Huna

    Obviously I have not taken violent action against this injustice, but neither have you, so perhaps that makes us both keyboard warriors

    – No it doesn’t, I went to Timor because I wanted to, because it would be a great experience and mostly because I had an opportunity to make a difference, to actually cause a positive effect no matter small my contribution was (and it was small, probably one of the smallest)

    So you may consider yourself a keyboard warrior but when I had the opportunity to do something I did it even if it meant the possibility that I may have to put myself in harms way to do it

    Fortunately for me nothing what I consider bad happened to me.

    • One Tāne Huna 11.1

      What I said before wasn’t strictly true: I have in the past defended people from physical assault, but it must be said, not particularly determined nor well-equipped assault. I have no more wish to be further tested in that department than you do.

      Your righteous and commendable action in Timor doesn’t answer my question about New Zealand.

      People in New Zealand are in “harm’s way” right now. Your answer to this is to pay them less?

      • chris73 acualy is Dolan 11.1.1

        In your opinion they’re in harms way.

        Tell you what, you set up a situation where someones death in NZ will solve whatever problems you think we have in NZ and I’ll let you know what my actions will be because at the moment its very easy to sit back in our comfortable chairs (I’m lying down on the couch at the moment) and say what we’d do and wouldn’t do.

        Its not until we’re in the situation that we know what we’d do so until that time all we’re doing is merely blowing our own trumpets over something that will probably never come to pass

        • One Tāne Huna 11.1.1.1

          Acualy is not my opinion. It’s The Lancet’s.

          PS: “Someone’s death” – killing isn’t the only action you’re allowed in this game.

          • chris73 acualy is Dolan 11.1.1.1.1

            So what are you going to do about it?

            • One Tāne Huna 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Apart from being politically active? And standing up to bullies in real life? And my job(s)?

              I’m going to continue trying to get people behind the idea that public policy that isn’t based on solid evidence is an assault.

      • Rogue Trooper 11.1.2

        effective link; speaks for itself

  12. Tigger 12

    Marriage equality. It matters that much to me.

  13. karol 13

    Who would be prepared to die for the forestry industry?. Just up on Stuff:

    A 23-year-old Rotorua man has died in a forestry accident.

    Rotorua police Senior Sergeant Karl Konlechner said the man died around 2.50pm today after he was hit by a falling tree.

    The man, whose name has not been released, was working with a small logging crew in steep and rugged terrain near Lake Rotoiti.

    He died instantly, Konlechner said.

  14. Murray Olsen 14

    My experience has been that people who fight for the rights of their class, or even their family, grow to fit the circumstances under which they are fighting. The Kiwis who went to Spain to fight Franco hadn’t been at risk of death back home, because the circumstances were different. Those who volunteered to fight fascism in WW2 rose to the occasion, even though a few old soldiers have told me they didn’t really know why they went except to be with their mates. Most of us rise to the occasion and the necessity of the place and time. We have enormous untapped reserves, and this is what makes me hopeful about our future.
    Some, of course, would just be happy to see conflict as another opportunity for currency speculation or profiteering. They are usually the most militant in their speeches, and are the ones who put our country on the wrong side in the battles the ILO is fighting. They are not all on the National side of the political spectrum either.

  15. In some places, you risk death, beatings or being thrown in the loony bin for things that would be uncontroversial here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/life/8473684/Is-this-photo-grounds-for-death. Don’t think I’d have the bollocks for it (or some less inappropriate analogy).

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    I have been stuck at home for several days, and so the build-up to Anzac day has been reduced for me to a series of media impressions. Fragmentary ones at that, as I actively tried to avoid the coverage. The… ...
    Bat bean beamBy Giovanni Tiso
    1 day ago
  • US: the state’s systematic violence kills another young black man
    Freddie Gray: brutally murdered by Baltimore cops by The Spark A young man is dead in Baltimore, killed by six murdering cops. In the same week, a murdering cop goes free in Chicago when a prosecutor and a judge tie… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 day ago
  • Questions For Oral Answer April 28
    Press Release – Office of the Clerk 1. CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received about lower than expected inflation in New Zealand? QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS 1. CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Finance: What… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • Hobbling Democracy: TPPA and The Covenant of Secrecy
    Opinion – Binoy Kampmark The TTIP and TPPA, both sounding like ominous injections of political disaster, continue their march towards belittling, and corroding the democratic content of its participating countries. The holder of the needle remains US President Barack Obama,… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • The Decline and Fall of the United States | David Swanson
    Opinion – David Swanson After a speech I gave this past weekend, a young woman asked me whether a failure by the United States to properly surround and intimidate China might result in instability. I explained why I thought the… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • Fearing the loss of Hegemony: The Concept of US Retreat
    Opinion – Binoy Kampmark Nothing upsets those drunk on imperialist virtue than the fact it might end. Such romances with power do have a use-by-date, going off like old fruit. Eventually, the crippling contradictions will win through in the end.… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • Strong Support for Clarification of GMO Council Jurisdiction
    Press Release – GE Free NZ On Friday, 24 April GE Free Northland and the Soil & Health Association of NZ with 19 other 274 parties sought clarification in the Environment Court on whether there is jurisdiction in the Resource… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • Should Environmentalists Care About Poverty?
    Perhaps heightened by the leadership contest in the Green Party, there appears to be a debate going on about where environmentalism fits into the political spectrum. I am not a member of the Green Party (nor any other, for that… ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 day ago
  • Inoculating against science denial
    Science denial has real, societal consequences. Denial of the link between HIV and AIDS led to more than 330,000 premature deaths in South Africa. Denial of the link between smoking and cancer has caused millions of premature deaths. Thanks to… ...
    2 days ago
  • A year ago today – Auckland’s first electric trains
    A year ago today transport in Auckland was forever changed as the first electric trains started carrying passengers – although they didn’t start running in normal service till the following day. Electrifying Auckland’s rail network is something that had been… ...
    2 days ago
  • Media Link: Anzac Day panel on future conflicts.
    Commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated assault at Gallipoli prompted Radio New Zealand to convene a special panel on the evolution and future of conflict since those tragic and futile days in 1915. I was invited to participate… ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 days ago
  • Australian cops shut down Aboriginal Anzac Day march
    The article below deals with the erasing of the Frontier Wars in Australia.  Something similar has happened in relation to the Land Wars in New Zealand.  The wars of conquest and confiscation of Maori land are totally eclipsed by carefully-constructed… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • After World War 1: the horrors of peace at home (Australia)
    The small number of people involved in Redline means we simply don’t have the possibility to cover everything we’d like to.  This includes some very important stuff.  For instance, an article about what NZ soldiers came home to, an equivalent… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • Hard News: Anzac Day II
    I spent a couple of hours at our local RSA on Saturday. It was well past the traditional solemnity of the morning, well into the drinking. The old fellows drank like soldiers and the soldiers, there in their uniforms, with… ...
    2 days ago
  • Pony-tails, panic and PR spin.
    How Crosby-Textor propose to rescue Key from the fall out over his casual Pony-Tail stroking.Rumour has it that the Crosby-Textor spin machine that elevated John Key to the leadership of the National Party and thence to Prime Minister of NZ… ...
    the Irascible CurmudgeonBy Alan Papprill
    2 days ago
  • Poor peer review – and its consequences
    See below for citations used The diagram above displays links between the journal, editors and reviewers in the case of the paper Malin & Till (2015). I discussed these links before in Poor peer-review – a case study  but thought… ...
    2 days ago
  • Capture: April Come She Will
    Over the month of April I've started a number of threads, but not quite found the time or inspiration to reach a critical mass.Looking back though, it was a fairly packed month, as we ease our way into autumn.So here's… ...
    2 days ago
  • Has John Key tugged off more than he realises?
    John Key's pony-tail-gate controversy seems to have divided people into two camps. The vast bulk of New Zealanders (to purloin a Key-ism) can agree on the fact that it's weird... and out of order. But then there are those who… ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    2 days ago
  • Rodney Hide: They’re all after me, man…
    The state apparently has me under covert investigation. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I was followed home by some guy in a long coat and dark glasses. It was 27 degrees and cloudy. My friends have… ...
    My ThinksBy boonman
    2 days ago
  • The road to Mike Hosking, vilifier of young women
    Some of us have always seen radio announcer Mike Hosking as a puffed-up little prat. I was there at Broadcasting House when this shortish young guy with a big voice and a very strange manner arrived in the Network Newsroom.… ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    2 days ago
  • Hey RaboDirect, if Mike Hosking’s selling you, I’m not buying.
    A nasty side of radio announcer Mike Hosking spilled out into view last week as he ‘bashed’ the victim of John Key’s serial bullying. Hosking, supported by TVNZ’s OneNews, sponsored by RaboDirect, vilified the waitress whom the Prime Minister admits… ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    2 days ago
  • Is Auckland boring enough?
    Via Jarrett Walker, I recently ran across a provocative article by Aaron Renn in the Guardian: “In praise of boring cities“. Renn takes his fellow urbanists to task for the narrowness of their vision about what makes a good city:… ...
    Transport BlogBy Peter Nunns
    2 days ago

  • More hype and half-truths from Coleman
    The rising incidence of rheumatic fever has nothing to do with ‘families having a better understanding of the disease’ as the Health Minister wants us to believe but everything to do with his failure to address the root causes of… ...
    14 hours ago
  • Regional air routes must be maintained
    The Government must use its majority shareholding to make sure Air New Zealand cooperates with second tier airlines stepping into the regional routes it has abandoned, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Air New Zealand’s cancellation of its Kaitaia, Whakatane,… ...
    16 hours ago
  • Action needed on decades old arms promise
    Nuclear weapons states must honour the unequivocal promise they made 45 years ago to disarm, says Labour’s Disarmament Spokesperson Phil Goff. Mr Goff is attending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations in New York. ...
    17 hours ago
  • Worker safety top of mind tomorrow and beyond
    Workers’ Memorial Day, commemorated tomorrow, is both a time to reflect and to encourage a better safety culture in all workplaces, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway.“On Worker’s Memorial Day, working people across New Zealand will remember those… ...
    2 days ago
  • Communities forced to stomach water woes
    Confirmation by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman that he is to wind up a water quality improvement scheme will leave thousands of Kiwis with no alternative but to continue boiling their drinking water, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. The Drinking… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour calls for immediate humanitarian aid for Nepal
    The Government should act immediately to help with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “The Nepalese Government is appealing for international assistance following yesterday’s massive quake. The full impact is only now being realised… ...
    2 days ago
  • New holiday reflects significance of Anzac Day
    Anzac Day now has the full recognition that other public holidays have long enjoyed, reflecting the growing significance it has to our sense of identity and pride as a nation, Labour MP David Clark says.“The importance of the 100th Gallipoli… ...
    2 days ago
  • Housing crisis hurting export growth
    If Steven Joyce wants to revive his failing export growth target he needs to make sure the Government gets to grips with the housing crisis, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Our exporters are struggling to compete… ...
    5 days ago
  • Gallipoli’s lesson: never forget, never repeat
     A special monument to one of our greatest war heroes should be a priority for the new Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “This will honour the spirit of Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, who led 760… ...
    5 days ago
  • Minister for who? Women, or Team Key?
    Louise Upston yesterday broke her silence on John Key’s repeated unwanted touching of a woman who works at his local café, to jump to the defence of her Boss. Upston repeated Key’s apology but, according to media reports “she refused… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Taxpayer bucks backing US billionaire
    Kiwis will be horrified to know they are backing a Team Oracle subsidiary owned by a US billionaire, Labour’s Sports and Recreation spokesperson Trevor Mallard says. It has been revealed today that a Warkworth boat building company, which is wholly… ...
    6 days ago
  • English’s sins of omission: ‘Nothing left to be done’ on housing
    When Bill English said ‘there is nothing left to be done’ on the Auckland housing crisis he had overlooked a few things – a few things, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.  “He’s right if you ignore: ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate change now hurts Kiwis
    Kiwis have twice been given timely and grave warnings on how climate change will hit them in their hip pockets this week, says Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The first is the closure of the Sanford mussel plant and the… ...
    6 days ago
  • Clean, green and chocolate!
    Like many people I absolutely love chocolate! But until recently I hadn’t given much thought to how it was grown and produced. Fair trade and ethical food production are core Green Party principles, so yesterday Steffan Browning and I were… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    6 days ago
  • National admits loan shark law not up to it
    National has admitted new laws to crack down on loan sharks, truck shops and dodgy credit merchants aren’t up to the task of protecting vulnerable consumers, Labour’s Commerce spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. “Paul Goldsmith has acknowledged the laws might just… ...
    6 days ago
  • Power and the Prime Minister
    I’d like to acknowledge the young woman* who has publically told her story. It was a very brave thing to do. She kept her story very simple and focussed on her experience of what happened. It told of unwanted attention… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Extra holiday offers time to reflect
    The Mondayisation of Anzac Day provides New Zealanders with an opportunity to spend more time with their families and their communities, Dunedin North Labour MP David Clark says. “This is the first time legislation I introduced, to have Anzac and… ...
    6 days ago
  • More angst and anguish for red zone locals
    Local residents will be bitterly disappointed by the Government’s cherry picking of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding compensation for red zoned property owners, Labour Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson and Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says. “Home owners have taken all… ...
    7 days ago
  • Australia shows why we need a sovereign wealth fund now
    Australia has not managed its great mining boom well, says HSBC’s chief economist for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Bloxham. When times are good, governments need to save for the bad times that will inevitably follow, and this can be… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    7 days ago
  • Pure Water- pure rip off
    New Zealanders’ rights to fresh water must be protected before commercial allocations are given, but the Government is allowing resources to be taken, says Kelvin Davis MP for Te Tai Tokerau.  “The Government needs to resolve the issue of water… ...
    7 days ago
  • Cabinet paper reveals weak case for Iraq deployment
    A heavily redacted copy of a Cabinet paper on New Zealand’s military deployment to Iraq reveals how weak the case is for military involvement in that conflict, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff.  The paper warns that given the failure… ...
    7 days ago
  • Malaysia’s booty is Kiwis’ lost homeownership dream
    It’s unsurprising the Auckland property market is so overheated when Malaysians are being told they can live large on Kiwi’s hard-earned rent money, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “A Malaysian property website lists nearly 4000 New Zealand houses and… ...
    7 days ago
  • Ministry’s food safety resources slashed to the bone
    The Ministry for Primary Industries’ failure to monitor toxic and illegal chemicals in red meat is a dereliction of duty, Labour’s Primary Industries and Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “MPI compliance officer Gary Orr today admitted National’s much-vaunted super… ...
    7 days ago
  • Ministry must protect organic food industry
    The Ministry for Primary Industries must take urgent action to protect New Zealand’s $150 million organic food and beverage industry by establishing a certification regime, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Despite working with Organics Aotearoa on the issue… ...
    1 week ago
  • Tony Abbott, indigenous rights, and refugees
    This week, Tony Abbott has visited Aotearoa New Zealand, bringing with him his racist policies against indigenous Australians and his appalling record on refugee detention camps. Abbott has launched a policy “to close” remote aboriginal communities, which is about as… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • PM’s housing outburst bizarre
    Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has described the Prime Minister’s latest comments on the Auckland housing crisis as bizarre. “John Key is deep in denial. He must be one of the only people left who are not concerned about the risk… ...
    1 week ago
  • Deflation: Another economic headache linked to housing crisis
    National’s housing crisis is causing even further damage with the second consecutive quarter of deflation a genuine concern the Reserve Bank can do little about, as it focusses on Auckland house prices, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “This is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Pot calling the kettle black over fossil fuel subsidies.
    Over the weekend alongside nine other countries the New Zealand Government has endorsed a statement that supports eliminating inefficient subsidies on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel subsidies are a big driver of increasing emissions. Good on the Government for working internationally… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • At last – a common sense plan for Christchurch
    The Common Sense Plan for Christchurch released by The People’s Choice today is a welcome relief from the shallow debate about rates rises versus asset sales, Labour’s Christchurch MPs say. "Local residents – who have spent weeks trawling through the… ...
    1 week ago
  • National must lead by example on climate change
    The National Government must meet its own climate change obligations before it preaches to the rest of the world, Labour's Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says. "Calls today by Climate Change Minister Tim Groser for an end to fossil fuel… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Biosecurity rethink a long time
    The Government has opened New Zealand’s borders to biosecurity risks and its rethinking of bag screening at airports is an admission of failure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. Nathan Guy today announced a review of biosecurity systems in… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Chinese rail workers must be paid minimum wage
    KiwiRail must immediately stop further Chinese engineers from working here until they can guarantee they are being paid the New Zealand minimum wage, Labour’s MP for Hutt South Trevor Mallard says. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment today released… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Better consultation needed on Christchurch asset sales
    The Christchurch City Council (CCC) should be promoting wide and genuine public consultation on its draft ten year budget and plan given the serious implications for the city’s future of its proposed asset sales, outlined in the plan. Instead, it… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    2 weeks ago
  • ‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity relate...
    Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    2 weeks ago
  • No more sweet talk on obesity
    The Government should be looking at broader measures to combat obesity rather than re-hashing pre-announced initiatives, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “While it is encouraging to see the Government finally waking from its slumber and restoring a focus on… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government two-faced on zero-hour contracts
    The Government should look to ban zero-hour contracts in its own back yard before getting too high and mighty about other employers using them, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Information collated by Labour shows at least three district health… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Scrutiny of battlefield deaths should continue
    As New Zealand troops head to Iraq under a shroud of secrecy, the Government is pushing ahead with legislation to remove independent scrutiny of incidents where Kiwi soldiers are killed in hostile action overseas, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says.… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Damp-free homes a right for tenants
    Labour is urging tenants to use a little known rule which gives them the right to live in damp-free rental homes. Otago University researchers have today highlighted the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 as a way tenants can force landlords to… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must take action on speculators
    The Government must take action on property speculators who are damaging the housing market and shutting families and young people out of the home ownership dream, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “There are a number of options the Government could… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Milk price halves: A $7b economic black hole
    Global milk prices have halved since the peak last year, creating an economic black hole of almost $7 billion that will suck in regions reliant on dairy, crucial industries and the Government’s books, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kitchen plan set to swallow up health boards’ funds
    The financial impacts of implementing a proposal to outsource hospital food, forced on them by a crown-owned company which is now facing an auditor-general’s inquiry, are being felt by district health boards across the country, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank scathing of Government
    The Reserve Bank’s most scathing critique to date of National’s inability to handle the housing crisis shows the Bank is sick of having to pick up the pieces, Labour Leader Andrew Little says.  “John Key continues to deny there is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for McDonald’s to upsize work hours
    Labour is calling on McDonald’s to have more respect for their workers and offer them more guaranteed work hours. McDonald’s is proposing to guarantee its workers 80 per cent of their rostered hours, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Brownlee misses the boat on asbestos
    Gerry Brownlee has once again missed an opportunity to improve the lives of Cantabrians post-earthquakes, Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokesperson Ruth Dyson says. A new report from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser,… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must come clean on troop deployment and protections
    New Zealanders deserve more than to hear about their troops’ deployment overseas from Australian media, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “News from Australia that Kiwi troops are on their way to Iraq this week is another example of the culture… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Cancer prevention calls gain momentum
    Research showing bowel cancer treatment sucks up more public health dollars than other cancers once again highlights the need for a national screening programme, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A study by Otago University, which found colon cancer is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Burger King shows zero-hour contracts not needed
    The abandonment of zero-hour contracts by Burger King is further evidence good employers do not need to use them, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. "Congratulations to the Unite Union and Burger King for settling an employment agreement… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis deserve more than reheats
    The Government looks set to rely on regurgitated announcements for this year’s Budget if today’s speech is anything to go by, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “National has been building up to this Budget for seven long years, promising a… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Landlords not cashing in on insulation schemes
    The fact so few landlords have taken up the generous taxpayer subsidy for retrofitting shows it is time to legislate minimum standards, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Poto Williams. “Many landlords aren’t using Government insulation schemes because they don’t want… ...
    2 weeks ago

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