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Support for global union solidarity

Written By: - Date published: 4:33 pm, March 6th, 2012 - 4 comments
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Union’s have gone global in response to global financial capital’s push to drive  wage costs to the bottom.  Canadian United Steel Workers (USW) will meet local workers in Invercargill on Thursday at the Working Men’s Club at 8pm and picket outside Rio Tinto office in Wellington on Friday at 12:30pm. All welcome.

Canadian United Steel Workers (USW)officials Guy Farrell and Mark Matais are to visit New Zealand in March 2012 to highlight the plight of 780 locked out aluminium smelter workers in Quebec. The visits of the two USW delegates are part of a campaign to gather global support. The USW delegation will visit Invercargill on Thursday 8 March and meet with local workers. The nearby Tiwai Point Smelter has a majority shareholding by the same company Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) that has locked out the Canadian workers. The following day Friday 9 March they will lead a peaceful assembly at Rio Tinto’s New Zealand Office at the ASB Building in Wellington.

Their visit is being jointly sponsored by the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) and the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) who are
affiliated to the USW through the Mining and Maritime Initiative. EPMU Senior National Industrial Officer Paul Tolich says the goal is to get RTA management to lift the lockout and return to negotiations around sub-contracting issues with the USW workers. USW delegate Mark Matais is the President of the USW Local 9495, District 5 Branch based at RTA’s Aluminium Smelter in Alma, Quebec. He and fellow workers have been locked out since 1January 2012 after workers rejected a company contract, in a harsh struggle that has attracted global attention.

RTA management is trying to contract out jobs at the Alma smelter, meaning that existing employees could end up working alongside workers who would be contracted in at half the pay rate of unionised employees. The USW is not totally opposed to sub-contractingbut wants stricter conditions placed around its use by RTA. The Canadian dispute has parallels with the current Ports of Auckland action involving Maritime Union of New Zealand members. MUNZ National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says the Canadian workers are facing the same tactics Ports of Aucklandmanagement are using against union members. “Employers are attempting to pressure their workforces into accepting contracting out around the world, and that’s why we have to all stand together for secure jobs.”

More information and flyer available here:  usw_nz_visit_2012_flyer  and here

4 comments on “Support for global union solidarity”

  1. Malcolm 1

    So, does the Labour Party now support scrapping the ban on secondary action in solidarity with other workers that they imposed on the NZ working class in the ERA, thereby making it so much harder for workers to effectively fight back within the bounds of the law? Or is your support for global union solidarity limited to supporting small symbolic protests that will do very little to stop Rio Tinto’s attack on workers in Quebec?

    • bbfloyd 1.1

      you need to make some sense mal….. we get the fact that you have a pathological hatred for the labour party…. that is an issue between you and your therapist…. but if your therapist is encouraging you to voice your delusions as a way of releasing the buildup of stress created by these obsessions, then you need to get a refund…..

  2. Jenny 2

    Global solidarity is good. But it cannot win the wharfies dispute, only support from within New Zealand can do that.

    If international support could win an industrial dispute, then the Watersiders Union in 1951 would have won their dispute. At that time the wharfies had militant international union support that would dwarf anything today.

    A key factor then as now, is will the Labour Party stand with the Wharfies or not?

  3. Malcolm 3

    bbfloyd, you are the one making no sense. My question is perfectly reasonable. If you had any familiarity with labour law and its history then you would understand it. Why can’t I just get a straight answer to a straight question? I thought the author of this post might be able to answer. I asked the same question of Clare Curran and Darien Fenton on the wharfies support page on Facebook. Neither bothered to answer. In fact they seemed to consciously evade answering as they continued to respond to other questions but ignored mine. Of course we know why that is.

    Jenny -?? I agree and the major thing making it so difficult for NZ workers to fight back effectively is the ban on secondary action, no? You pointed this out in a long post you wrote on the CMP dispute a while back which I thought was very good. The only thing I don’t agree with is continuing to appeal to the Labour Party as a party that will defend working class interests. It clearly doesn’t. Either workers will start to defy the ban or they will continue to lose.

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