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Thousands protest Nats’ attack on our work rights

Written By: - Date published: 5:27 pm, August 21st, 2010 - 26 comments
Categories: democratic participation, workers' rights - Tags:

In glorious Wellington weather around 2,000 people turned out to protest National’s plans to put new employees on 90-day Fire at Will periods, let employers bar workers’ union officials from the worksite, and let employers demand a doctors’ note for just one day’s sick leave (which, apart from treating us all like liars, is attracting howls of protest from the medical community who fear clinics already facing cutbacks will be overloaded).

Any news on how the rallies went in Auckland and Christchurch? Apparently the weather in Auckland was bad but it didn’t stop a good turn-out – anyone got an estimate on the crowd size?

The CTU used the rallies to kick off the campaign against National’s disgraceful attack on our work rights. They announced that the campaign would culminate in a national day of action on October 20th.

Make no mistake, Kiwi workers won’t take this unjustified, spiteful attack on our work rights, which is simply designed to lower labour costs. We are fighting back. And the fight has just begun.

PS. The Herald reports two old geezers and an arthritic dog protested in Auckland. But they never were that good at counting.

26 comments on “Thousands protest Nats’ attack on our work rights ”

  1. Carol 1

    When I listened to Nat Rad in my break at work, they said 700 for Wellington & 200 for Auckland.


    Stuff says 1500 in Wellington:


    And NZ herald say “hundreds” in Auckland:


    • Fisiani 1.1

      So that was it. Seriously? How utterly pathetic. A failed attempt to rouse the population against a popular policy and government. Please please keep up this campaign.

    • Santi 1.2

      Few followers of little Andrew Little, aka “Double Dipper” (in good company in that department with Bill English.)

  2. Bill 2

    The attack on work rights isn’t just about lowering labour costs. Less employment protection leads to greater churn and more insecurity. And that leads to companies collapsing as their productivity takes a nose dive. Which leads to lower across the board growth rates.

    Now. Who doesn’t give a toss about societal well being? And who benefits from collapsed and collapsing companies?

    Maybe the OECD links I provided earlier today that make the business argument for having very strong employment protection measures should be taken by somebody better at breaking down info than I am, and with more ‘establishment’ links than me, and something done about getting small and medium sized businesses (the most vulnerable under these insane polices) on side.

    edit here’s the comment with the links http://www.thestandard.org.nz/fairness-at-work-rallies-21-22-august-2/#comment-242547

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      So while neo-liberalism has been successful in restoring profitability and, more generally, business power, it has not led to stronger world growth.

      Jim Stanford, Economics for Everyone, p. 149
      The graph immediately following that shows investment slowdown in the G-7 countries from 1970 to 2006 from just under 16% of GDP to just over 6%. Profits over the same time grew considerably.

      Neo-liberalism was never about social benefits but about transferring power and wealth to the business class and capitalists.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        I get all that DtB, but focusing for a moment on the arguments put forward by proponents for ‘Fire at Will’ legislation and viewing their arguments through the lens of the OECD; an institution or conglomeration whose views business normally puts great store by, we get to a position where business, for the sake of productivity and efficiency and future profit should be against any proposal to ‘Fire at Will’.

        The cabal that is the NZ government says that removing employment protection will create employment. We know that’s false, but they are able to suggest that unions and workers are just offering an opinion and that everything will be a-ok. And then the second part of their argument, which is implied, is that efficiency and productivity will be improved by the removal of employment protections. The OECD says quite clearly that that is false and that the opposite is the case. The cabal that is our government knows that. It can’t not know that. It’s OECD reports ffs!

        Now who beyond financial speculators and their ilk…who just happen to be the types that constitute our government, profit from companies going down the tubes? No-one.

        The point I’m labouring here is that the NZ government is gaming the business community. And if there is a possibility that erstwhile allies of the government can be turned against the government, then I believe they ought to be afforded the information and the opportunity to do so.

  3. gingercrush 3

    This will probably be seen as trolling. But 250, 000 union members in this country and 6, 000 or less protest in New Zealand’s three biggest cities. Rather appalling turnout really in what are the largest law changes to employment laws since 1990.

    • Zetetic 3.1

      wait till Oct 20th, sunshine. This was the rallying call for the activists. We build from here

  4. Alwyn 4

    I’m sorry Marty but you must have been at a different rally to the one I was at.
    There was, unfortunately a disappointing turnout, well under 1000 at the most generous,
    and even that probably includes many who were just spectators.
    It was rather depressing in fact. Don’t people care.

  5. KJT 5

    Saturday morning. Most wage earners at work.

    • Fisiani 5.1

      Probably such a meagre turn out cos most of the unemployed were applying at small firms for a job under the popular 90 day right to prove yourself

      • Lanthanide 5.1.1

        Yeah, tens of thousands of the unemployed (you did say ‘most’) were out applying for jobs this Saturday. If only that were true, the unemployment rate might be back down to around 4% or so for the next stats.

  6. Carol 6

    Most people at my workplace today, didn’t seem to be aware that the protest was on. I think they are union members, but can’t have taken much notice of the emails from the union about the rally – or maybe they aren’t on the email list? I must check tomorrow – see if there was a notice about the rally on the staff lunchroom noticeboard.

  7. Carol 7

    Actually, I have just been thinking about how these employment law changes, and the rallies and protests will affect people I work with. The issues that the unions are highlighting at the moment, especially the 90 Day rule, must apply, most immediately, to people who aren’t members of unions.

    I work for a local council in the Auckland area. The main concern for most of my co-workers at the moment, is the shift to the super-city. So they pay most attention to the information from the unions about this. The workers this weekend were meant to receive letters indicating what their pay rates would be after November 1st. Some people who should have got letters didn’t, and the wording of the letters wasn’t immediately clear to everyone. That was the main issue workers discussed today.

    The CTU campaign, needs to make much more of an effort to show people in existing jobs, how the proposed new employment laws might impact on them. Probably, if a worker’s job seems secure for the near future, they may not think that much further into the future about potential hassles.

    • Outofbed 7.1

      I was at the Wellington rally an I thought it was a good size crowd, more then i was expecting
      Good to see people getting organised . and out there

      Don’t people care.?

      Some do, most don’t… at the moment
      Unfortunately we have to wait for the failed policies of the nutty right to filter through
      and people will start caring . Its annoying I agree but most people are not aware.
      And how are they going to be? certainly not by being informed through the traditional channels of commercial TV and radio. But inspite of that, there is increasing dissatisfaction out there. I am hearing more and more rumblings of discontent
      It just needs a focus ,shame labour has a centre right leader but I guess we on the left have to patiently wait for him to lose the 2011 election and be dumped and keep our fingers crossed MMP doesn’t disappear, then we will be truly fucked

      • Bill 7.1.1

        “Unfortunately we have to wait for the failed policies of the nutty right to filter through
        and people will start caring.”

        But will they act? The unions have set themselves up as the cavalry and as Carol notes, they are being the cavalry in a battle that hasn’t touched union members yet. But more than that, unions have assigned their members the role of being mere spectators. (There are very few sites that organise themselves to a level where they have little or no need for external paid union employees.) And mere spectators get bored and eventually stop paying any attention. And that’s led to some desperate attempts by union hierarchies to shore up a dead fiction with the use of slogans such as “You are the Union” which, lets face it, means nothing to a person who is (understandably) disengaged and viewing the union as an external agency tasked with sorting things out.

  8. hevelock vetinari 8

    “Our work rights”???? Doubt if “You” have worked a day in your life.

  9. David 9

    from UNITYblog…

    TV3’s estimate of 400 in Christchurch is pretty accurate (I was going to say 500). But I hope their figure of 600 in Auckland is a serious miscount. 2000 in Wellington is respectable, but if these figures are accurate, why were the numbers in the bigger centres so low?

    More here: http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2010/08/600-in-auckland-2000-in-wellington-is.html

    I hope the reason I can’t find any left blogs reporting on the Auckland rally’s not because there were only 600.

  10. Alexandra 10

    There were many hundreds more than 600 in Auckland. Its always difficult to guess but I think it was closer to 1500. There must be a way that the left can assess numbers with reasonable accuracy so as to challenge the media’s predictable under-estimation, with some authority. I suggest we have counters and photograhers at strategic points of rallys/marches from here in, or exploit every opportunity for aerial photo shots. For example shots from one of the high rise buildings in Auckland during the peak of the rally would confirm the numbers.

    • lprent 10.1

      My guess was between 1000 and 1500. But it was a bitch of a location to do any estimates in. It was also pretty crowded

    • loota 10.2

      I just wrote a comment which said that Dunedin had 450-550 turn up at our march today. Maybe a few more. Not bad for a small city of 95,000 (once you take out the uni students still in bed on a Sunday morning…). The per capita ratio is excellent.

      It seems us mainlanders really give a s*** about this stuff; perhaps the neurosurgery issue is making activists proper out of Dunedin locals 😀

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