Unite leader asks why Labour and Green’s promise to uphold neoliberal dogmas

By Mike Treen, Unite Union National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)


Mike Treen (left) in discussion with police over access rights during strike at SkyCity Casino

New Zealand has been subjected to decades of neo-liberal orthodoxy. The period of Rogernomics and Ruthanasia in the late 1980s and early 1990s institutionalised a number of so-called free-market economic orthodoxies around so-called free trade, privatisations, “independence” to the Reserve Bank, “floating” the currency for free speculation, the “Fiscal Responsibility Act” and so on.

It was a genuine neoliberal revolution. We were praised around the world for our radicalism and economic “orthodoxy”. It all remains in place.

The result has been a dismal economic performance on average compared to most other advanced capitalist countries.

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Unite Union invites you to the People's Climate Rally in Taranaki


The ‘People’s Climate Rally’ at the 2017 Petroleum Conference in Taranaki will include protest, workshops and entertainment. The rally is being organised by Taranaki locals and other groups working on climate change, fracking, oil and gas drilling, and social justice.

"Climate change is here. Unite union members were almost killed in West Auckland last week when floodwaters spilled onto electrical equipment in a fast food restaurant.

Climate change isn't something that low paid workers can buy their way out of. You won't find Unite union members buying $100,000 "green" electric cars, or jetting off to safety when the next climate disasters hit. For us, the fight for climate justice is literally a fight for survival.

Unite Union supports everyone taking direct action for climate justice by taking on the polluters face to face at the Petroleum Conference in Taranaki, just as we support workers who take on exploitative employers face to face at the negotiation table, in our workplaces, on our pickets, on our streets.”

- Gary Cranston: Unite Union organiser, West Auckland, Northland and environmental justice spokesperson.

Check out the programme and register here

New Zealand Labour Letter: March 2017

The online publication of the New Zealand Labour Letter is provided as a service to Labour by AIL of New Zealand Ltd. 

National Labour News

The Public Service Association (PSA) and New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) reached an agreement with the government to process pay equity claims based on the principles established by a joint working group led by Business NZ and the Council of Trade Unions. Legislation to implement the changes is expected later this year. In the meantime, the government agreed to accept the principles to resolve current pay equity claims. The agreement means employees who believe they are underpaid because they work in fields dominated by women will be able to make a pay equity claim. The first claims are PSA’s for social workers employed by the Ministry of Social Development and NZEI’s claim for education, behaviour and communication support workers with the Ministry of Education. The agreement will mean a “jump start” for pay equity, said CTU president Richard Wagstaff. "Working women who successfully demonstrate that they have a pay equity claim, will be able to be paid fairly.”


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New sanctions for migrant exploitation useful but much more needed

The new sanctions involving banning employers temporarily from sponsoring visas to import labour to New Zealand is a useful, but very small step, given the scale of the migrant labour exploitation that exists in New Zealand
Whenever a comprehensive survey of migrant labour is done it reveals that the vast majority of employers using migrant labour are not compliant with the legal minimums operating in New Zealand. This was true, for example, for workers in agriculture and the Christchurch rebuild.
Horticulture contractors weeding in Flaxmere, Hastings
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Burger King worker assaulted by management for monitoring kitchen temperature


abby hollandAn 18 year old Burger King employee was assaulted by management on Sunday the 19th of February for monitoring temperature levels in an overheated and understaffed Burger King restaurant on Lincoln Road in West Auckland.

Workers had been forced to work in 33 degree heat and been refused rest breaks for up to five hours as the drive through backed up. Crew took it upon themselves to get a thermometer from nearby Burger Fuel workers, record the temperature at 33 degrees and call the air conditioning repair company after restaurant management failed to take action.

Unite Union has repeatedly warned senior company management of their responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for its employees. Specifically we have on a number of occasions raised concerns about the inadequate air conditioning at the Lincoln Road restaurant and the company's failure to provide employees with needed rest breaks for health and safety reasons. 

In 2015 workers at Burger King Lincoln Road walked off shift after being subjected to temperatures as high as 34.5 degrees and a disgusting fly infestation in the kitchen.

Workers and the union have been met with repeated delay, excuses and have been provided with incorrect information since reporting the widespread non provision of breaks at Lincoln Road Burger King last year.

Managers at the same restaurant have remained on staff after assaulting other workers. Workers have been rostered to continue working alongside people who have assaulted them rather than being separated to ensure their health and safety. The company has also disciplined and terminated workers who have defended themselves against assault. The comment by the manager who said "The customers are more important" tells us where the company's priorities lie, and its not with the welfare of their employees.

Yesterday's incident at Burger King Lincoln Road was immediately reported to West Auckland police who took a statement and explained that they will be making contact with the assailant.

The entire incident was captured on CCTV, which we are asking the company provide to unite union and have advised the police to obtain as part of their investigation. The company had previously attempted to conceal CCTV footage showing another manager assaulting another young female crew member in the same restaurant in 2012. [see link below]

Unite union organiser Gary Cranston will be representing another manager from Burger King's West City restaurant this week who was terminated by the company after defending herself against a violent customer who had verbally and physically attacked staff causing serious injuries. In this case the customer had made public complaints about the manager on Facebook that turned out to be untrue. The manager was terminated despite other workers at the store, loyal customers and even mall security presenting a petition to the company asking not to sack the manager because she was acting in defence of herself and her coworkers. Perhaps because Antares Group, who owns the BK franchise in New Zealand really does believe that "the customers are more important" than the welfare of their employees.


Further information:

Burger King Caught Hiding Evidence Of Assault From Police

Paddy at Burger King Store - NZ Herald


For comment contact Gary Cranston
Fast Food Organiser
West Auckland - Northland
029 4555 979


Whistleblower guard stood down by Armourguard Security

Armourguard Security have stood down a security guard from a WINZ site because he complained to his union that the company was not taking the guards health and safety seriously.

Unite union delegate Dave Toopis checking IDs at Otara Work and Income.

Dave Toopi, a Unite delegate and union executive member, complained to his union that the new ID check procedure being demanded of WINZ clients put the guards at risk because they have to act at receptionists as well as guards.

Guards are expected to stop all clients, check if they have ID, check if they have an appointment and the time of the appointment. They are holding a folder with sheets of names and appointment times. This creates holdups during busy periods. 

The union believes that this can create unnecessary tension between the clients and the guards. The guards are also in a vulnerable position when doing paperwork for WINZ and not in a position to react quickly.

Clients are often in an agitated state given the culture of denial of people's entitlements that the government has encouraged among the management staff.

Over the last decade, this has seen the number of working age people accessing welfare support fall by 5% when the unemployment rate only fell 2%.

Security Guards at Armourguard also had their RTs taken off them as a cost saving exercise. There is also no one button emergency communication mechanism available to all guards at the company as recommended by the coroner following the death of a security guard in 2013. 

These workers are barely paid above the minimum wage yet are expected to be multitasking machines. 

Unite will not accept having our member being made a victim of for standing up for the rights of his fellow workers.

For comment contact Mike Treen

National Director
Unite Union
09 8452132 ext 20
029 5254744

Related: Union Anger at MSD ID crackdown

Union Anger at MSD ID crackdown

Security guards unionised by Unite Union at MSD sites are angry with new policy changes brought in by the Government yesterday, that now sees them stopping every citizen trying to access their rights and asking them for their name, appointment, and photo ID.


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Minimum wage goal should be $20 an hour to combat poverty and inequality

Media Release from Unite Union January 24, 2016
While welcoming an increase in the minimum wage by 50 cents an hour to $15.75, Mike Treen of Unite Union says that this new level only maintains its value at about 50% of the average wage. 
"This level was reached in 2008 and we need to be more ambitious as a society. We believe the goal should be $20 or two-thirds of the average wage
"The current consumer price index is almost meaningless when it come to what people have to spend in this country to live. After rent and power have been paid there is barely enough left for food and other necessities.
"There are widespread and unacceptable levels of poverty in this country and inequality is getting out of control. One way to address those issues in a meaningful way is to progressively increase the minimum wage in real terms."

New York protest for increase in minimum wage and a union. 

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Unions join Housing Action Social Movement to stop Niki's eviction

The social movement of 2017 hit the streets of Glen Innes in strength yesterday to defend Ioela Niki Rauti from eviction at the hands of the State. Activists from many campaign groups united pledging material and physical solidarity to stop the ethnic and social cleansing of working class Glen Innes, built on Maori land to provide "homes for heroes" after the suffering of two world wars and the Depression. 


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System protects corporate thieves, cheats, and killers

By Mike Treen, Unite Union National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

Towards the end of last year there were a relentless series of stories of corporate malfeasance.

Pumpkin Patch shut up shop with the loss of hundreds of jobs and is refusing to pay its workers in New Zealand the redundancy pay they owe them by hiding behind a corporate structure that pretends that there were different companies involved when they all have the same ultimate owners.

“It’s really just a technicality that Pumpkin Patch Limited don’t own the stock, and its subsidiary, Pumpkin Patch Originals Ltd do,” First Union organiser Lisa Meto Fox told the November 24 NZ Herald. “They’re a wholly-owned subsidiary, the same directors and the same business,” she said.


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