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The tale of Michael Stevens – killed 27 May 2008 – hit by falling tree

Written By: - Date published: 6:11 pm, July 4th, 2013 - 19 comments

I have collected up the available documentation on the men killed in the forest since 2008. I am going to try, using the documents I have, to tell their story – one at a time. I haven’t been able to contact all the families of these men and hope if any of them read this, […]

A lost generation – industry training is failing

Written By: - Date published: 1:17 pm, June 27th, 2013 - 51 comments

If your child wants to be a teacher, a lawyer, a nurse, an artist, an actor, a writer, an engineer, an architect or a historian to give some examples, you go to University or Polytech and get the full training you need to at least be qualified.  However if they want to be a builder, a plumber, an electrician, an arborist, a plasterer, a mechanic, an upholsterer, a bus driver, a train driver, a bicycle mechanic or a welder then you have to hope like hell they fall into the training one way or another.

No traffic jam on the high road

Written By: - Date published: 3:50 pm, June 22nd, 2013 - 34 comments

I am reading a very interesting book on the role of Collective Bargaining in the Global Economy (Edited by Susan Hayter). It confirms for me the importance of getting political support to change the labour laws in New Zealand to support industry level/sector wide bargaining…

Don’t be fooled by the spin regarding strike laws.

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, June 19th, 2013 - 54 comments

The proposed changes to employment law make massive changes to the right to strike. Those opposed to the Bill by Jamie Lee-Ross to allow replacement labour during strikes, need to be consistent in this view and should also be very worried about the main Employment Relations Amendment Bill now in Select Committee.

Ode to Phil Twyford

Written By: - Date published: 6:08 am, June 6th, 2013 - 24 comments

I was impressed by Phil Twyford’s analysis of the Government’s housing policies announced in the budget. I thought his best point was that only this Government could announce a housing affordability policy with the eviction of 3000 state housing tenants as its centre piece!

The Australian Dream for Forestry Workers

Written By: - Date published: 4:42 pm, May 12th, 2013 - 12 comments

There is an award for forestry workers in Australia. It has a whole range of terms and conditions including hours of work and time off, penal rates for overtime including weekend work, travel allowances and training provisions. The accident rate is half the rate of NZ. The economy is also stronger in Australia, unemployment is […]

Massive changes to employment legislation announced today

Written By: - Date published: 12:15 pm, April 26th, 2013 - 139 comments

The changes announced today to employment law represent the most serious attack on the rights of working people to a fair go since 1991. As I wrote on this blog that the Bill will reduce the Employment Relations Act to a farce and the result will be wages are driven down and employment agreements broken […]

It’s Not Enough To Be Nice

Written By: - Date published: 7:34 pm, April 21st, 2013 - 21 comments

Being a good employer takes a collective effort. Being nice, inquiring about the kids and genuinely taking an interest in your employees is good but does not a good employer make. Good employers are a result of what the business model allows them to do, and with the levers in NZ all set around price […]

Workers Memorial Day – mourn for the dead and fight for the living!

Written By: - Date published: 10:42 am, April 19th, 2013 - 4 comments

Here is a link to the CTU Workers Memorial Day event in Auckland on 28 April.  We will be bringing together families that have lost loved ones in the Forestry Industry to tell their stories and call for change.  I hope some of you can make it! Workers Memorial Day 2013

Defence Force Members Are Workers Too

Written By: - Date published: 10:31 am, April 14th, 2013 - 84 comments

The Court Martial of Flight Lieutenant Dan Pezaro by the NZ Defence Force is making me uneasy. The internal Court of Inquiry into this accident hinted at major disfunction within the upper reaches of the Forces in terms of health and safety. On my reading of that report, the RNZAF itself could be liable in […]

True Blue Worker Hate

Written By: - Date published: 9:40 am, April 9th, 2013 - 37 comments

Any day now the Government will announce more changes to the Employment Relations Act.  These changes will drive down wages and undermine the conditions of all workers.  They will also remove the small amount of protection most cleaners and hospitality workers get when the business they are working for loses a contract to another contractor. […]

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

Written By: - Date published: 10:21 am, March 26th, 2013 - 64 comments

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. Those we sit, eat and plan with may be arrested, jailed, tortured or killed when they get home.

The failures of visual special effects

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, March 20th, 2013 - 46 comments

I “attended” a fascinating “town hall” meeting last week of artists from around the world in the Visual Special Effects sector. Ignited by the failure of the company Rhythm and Hues (despite recently completing most of the special effects for the film The Life of Pi and winning award recognition for the work), these workers […]

Unionists Under the Bed

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 am, March 13th, 2013 - 18 comments

Forest Owners representative Sheldon Drummond suggested the union movement campaign around forestry safety was motivated by the “large un-unionised workforce” in forestry. In Sheldon’s mind this is clearly code for “bad motive”. Interviews with workers tell the story of their working lives, the long hours they are working and how safety issues are relegated when they are on the hill.. Fearing that if the article identifies them in any way there will be consequences – they are adamant that reprisal is a real risk. Sheldon sees none of this….

We’re all beneficiaries now

Written By: - Date published: 7:38 pm, March 6th, 2013 - 168 comments

The drought shows how important social protection systems are. When the unexpected happens – your farm dries up, you get sick, you lose your job, you find yourself alone raising your kids – the community steps in by way of tax funded Social Protection.

The Silence is Killing Them

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, March 4th, 2013 - 67 comments

The NZ Forestry Sector is completely unmonitored – It is one of our most dangerous industries and no one seems to know what is going on.  From my perspective it appears within officialdom and the Forest Owners themselves, no one really cares.

The last piece of the Hobbit story

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, March 1st, 2013 - 106 comments

Emails released on the Standard today show that, during the Hobbit “dispute” the Government and others lied to the people of New Zealand to maintain a perception of a crisis.

It was a shameful moment in New Zealand’s political history.

Working for a Living

Written By: - Date published: 2:21 pm, February 24th, 2013 - 118 comments

The thing I like about the Living Wage campaign is the branding represents strongly both the problem and the solution.  The Prime Minister fell into its trap when he said that the Living Wage was not a priority for his Government. The statement says it all really. The Government don’t want you to work for a living, they just want you to work.

Bully Camps not the “Answer” for youth

Written By: - Date published: 6:34 pm, February 21st, 2013 - 61 comments

Boot camps by their nature are bully camps.  I know some young people enjoy the test of their physical skills but for those that don’t, they work by psychological pressure.  I haven’t read the text book that says kids thrive being shouted at, marched about the place and having their heads shaved, and what are we teaching them about the State?  That we accept bullying?  That the Government reserve the right to humiliate you?

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