The left and the elections – don’t mourn, organise

As the election gets closer, everyone has an opinion on what needs to be done for their party to be successful.

We are actually living in a bit of an economic and political bubble. Employment is up. Many people don’t feel too badly off. The economy has done better than those in Europe or the US. Much of this is a consequence of the “wealth effect” from a speculative property boom that benefits property owners at least. This is coming to an end sooner rather than later. The other driver of growth has been population growth through immigration which is also being wound down by the government.

On a world scale, capitalism will enter a new recession over the next year or two which will have unpredictable consequences. 

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Burger King managers to join crew at contract negotiations

An opinion piece from Unite Union Executive member Melissa Goodman

A well deserved fist pump broke the air at a recent meeting of Unite union's executive delegates when it was announced that Salaried Managers will join hourly paid crew in negotiating for decent pay and working conditions for the first time ever as part of this year's contract negotiations.

I am a participating member of Unite union's executive, as the elected delegate for Burger King - most recently working as a Shift Supervisor and Assistant Store Manager. As such, I understand first hand that Burger King employees experience some of the lowest pay in the large corporate fast food industry in New Zealand.

melissa_BK_exec_copy.jpgSince the union was established just over a decade ago, Unite has represented workers at Burger King with fierce gusto. However, the collective agreement between Antares Restaurants Group Limited (trading as Burger King NZ) and Unite has always been limited to those workers on an hourly wage; excluding those on salaries.

At the same time, a number of supervisor workers are resisting a current push from upper management to move from their current hourly rate to a salaried rate. Although it may be presumed that moving to a salary contract may provide wage security, this move for many already has resulted in: a pathetic hourly pay rate for those expected to work long extended weekly hours and the undercutting of hourly paid workers who are already struggling with no chance of overtime pay. Supervisors are all too aware that the expectation to work long hours and cover for company managed under-staffing is a daily occurrence. For those moving to a salaried rate the chance of being paid a decent wage for the ACTUAL TIME they work is revoked.

Many salaried managers and supervisors are already being paid well below, the already low, market rate; even less if their actual time worked is taken into account. One of Unite's organisers recently came across a manager managing an entire Burger King restaurant on just $16.04 per hour, or perhaps less if you factor in the amount of hours they were expected to work each week.

Burger King and Wendy's are falling way behind in regards to wages when compared to similar fast food outlets. The vast majority of CREW members with no management qualifications or experience at KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Carl's Jr and Starbucks are paid more than this!

To make it worse, Burger King NZ includes the employer's Kiwisaver contribution as part of the salary when advertising and offering salaried positions.

Screen_Shot_2017-07-13_at_4.03.28_PM.pngThe salary is effectively used to undercut wages, give a false sense of promotion and move workers off the collective agreement and onto individual contracts without a way to collectively negotiate. Less pay for more work, more responsibilities, less flexibility in your working arrangements and a whole lot more stress! Burger King NZ are maintaining their position, destitute of vision, to remain the lowest of the low - a change is desperately needed.


BUT NOW, these diligent, conscientious, tireless and earnest salaried workers will have a chance to collectively push for a decent wage in the first ever collective agreement that includes Burger King's salaried workers in New Zealand. This move from Unite will have a profound impact on Burger King employees because ALL workers need protection from the tirade of unethical practices that feed down to all levels of the corporate hierarchy.

Negotiations between Unite and Antares Restaurant Group Ltd are due to commence in August.

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For the Left, more of the same won't cut it

By Andrew Dean

Andrew Dean, a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, wrote Ruth, Roger and Me: Debts and Legacies (Bridget Williams, 2015). He has a PhD in English Literature and will be teaching modern literature in Oxford from October. 

(Reprinted from Stuff)

OPINION: Over the last year, Left politics has been transforming across the world. This has especially been the case in Britain.
Running on a platform of strong economic redistribution and state intervention, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party has inspired activists and voters alike.
From an almost 20-point deficit at the start of the election campaign in April 2017, the party ended up running the Conservatives remarkably close on June 8. Polls now suggest that if the election were to be held today, Labour may win.
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Britain's opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, greets people at an anti-austerity rally in central London early in July.
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McDonald's newest NZ restaurant built on unpaid labour, illegal work trials.

mcd te atatu 1One worker has been backpaid and several others are waiting to be paid for working illegal, unpaid pre-employment work trials and other unpaid work at McDonald's New Zealand's newest restaurant. Workers had to attend compulsory unpaid meetings and work for free cleaning the restaurant in preparation for opening day.

Heidi Louise Batt worked two unpaid 4 hour shifts without being told that she wouldn't be paid prior. She wasn't told that she was rejected for the job until she asked to be paid. It was the first job she had applied for in her life.

Initially claiming that a manager had made a mistake, McDonald's Franchisee Dinesh Mani paid Ms Batt at the request of Unite union, later admitting to running illegal work trials as part of the franchises normal hiring processes.

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Mr Mani, who's family helped him buy his first McDonald's restaurant already owned four McDonald's restaurants before opening the controversial Te Atatu restaurant. Over 1400 people signed a Change.org petition in support of Te Atatu Peninsula residents campaigning against a 24 hour drive through McDonald's restaurant being built in their neighbourhood.

"Mr Mani has made tremendous amounts of profits from West Aucklanders hard work. McDonald's NZ made $52.8 million in profit in 2016. He should pay all workers for all of the the unpaid work they were required to do, no questions asked." said Gary Cranston, Unite Union Fast Food Organiser for West Auckland and Northland.

 

mcdteataturest.pngUpdate: 29 June 2017

Unite Union has since received assurance from McDonald's head office that Mr Mani has been spoken to and union members will be paid for all unpaid work they undertook at the Te Atatu McDonald's restaurant. 

Gary Cranston

Fast Food Organiser West Auckland & Northland
029 4555 979

gary@unite.org.nz

Unite complains to Press Council

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By Unite National Secretary Gerard Hehir

This online article was published without any attempt (that we are aware of) to contact Unite Union to verify the claims made. The headline, in particular, is simply wrong. There was no "union money" behind the scheme. 

The only union organisation spoken to, the CTU, told the reporter that they had not agreed to fund or manage the scheme  and had never seen the document. Despite knowing that the document was obviously not an agreement or statement of facts,  the headline asserts that there was "Union money behind Labour's botched intern scheme".
The article says: "The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000".
No attempt was made to verify this despite the reporter knowing that other statements in the document were not factual, especially regarding CTU and union involvement. 
The document actually states that contributions from Unite and First were "under discussion" but no mention of that is made in the article. 
To publish the headline and assertion that Unite Union had agreed to fund the scheme when the reporter had clear evidence that this was unlikely to be true and required a basic level of fact checking before publication is bad journalism.
Other news organisations did contact us before publishing - they simply made a phone call to check.

Labour Letter June 2017

The New Zealand Labour Letter is provided as a service to Labour by AIL of New Zealand Ltd

National Labour News

The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) praised the decision by Ports of Auckland to stop releasing methyl bromide emissions into the air. MUNZ National Secretary Joe Fleetwood said the decision is an example of what publicly owned ports can deliver, "if and when they prioritise community interests." The union said the move to fully recapture the toxic gas after fumigation "sets a new benchmark for industry best practice." According to MUNZ, methyl bromide is linked to motor neurone disease and harmful to the ozone layer and used to kill insects in logs before export. "We will continue the campaign to stop rogue employers exposing people to methyl bromide for another decade if need be," said Fleetwood. "Eliminating the risk from our ports and communities will save lives." The union also warned that the rivalry between publicly-owned ports undermines best practice standards, and drives a race to the bottom in the industry. "The Government must not allow best practice in some ports to be undermined elsewhere," said Fleetwood.

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MUNZ National Secretary Joe Fleetwood

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Danger! The economic bubble is bursting

By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

Statistics NZ figures released this week have confirmed that New Zealand is in recession on a per capita basis as the economy has declined for two-quarters when measured on this basis.
Gross Domestic Product did grow by .4% in the December quarter 2016 and 0.5% in the March quarter 2017, but because New Zealand’s total population grew by a record 2.1% in the year to March.
Adjusting the GDP growth for population growth produces a negative growth number in both quarters.
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A victory for left in extaordinary UK election

The UK election was extraordinary for a number of reasons.

The Conservative Prime Minister called it early because opinion polls gave her at least a 20 percentage point lead over Labour. A huge victory awaited. Just as importantly a crushing defeat of Labour was possible. The hated Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would be crushed and tossed aside.

The Conservatives won 318 seats and lost 13 seats. Labour won 262 seats and gained 32. In theory, 326 seats are needed for a majority in the 650-seat parliament. Actually, it is nearer 323 as Sinn Fein in the North of Ireland won seven seats which they don’t occupy because of their republican views.  

The Labour vote in the UK election reached 40%. Their MP number increased the Conservative Party just made it back in office with 42% of the vote and the support of a Democratic Unionist Party – a deeply reactionary party based in Northern Ireland with terrorist links that hold 10 seats.

 

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Invite to "Victory Party" for Corbyn-led Labour in UK election, 2pm Friday

The crew at Unite Union are organising a victory party for the UK election from 2pm Friday (or earlier) when official results will start coming in. Come along and join us at Unite Union HQ, 6a Western Springs Rd, Morningside, Auckland.
Myself, Joe Carolan and two Unite Union McDonald's delegates from Unite NZ met many MP's sponsored by Unite the Union and the Bakers Union in the UK parliament when we visited last year. They were very keen to hear about our victory over zero-hour contracts and how we organise - including the right of access. Both issues are part of the Labour Party manifesto.
The future Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell and myself spoke at a seminar on organising the unorganised in the UK which can be viewed here.
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Corbyn-led Labour election victory possible - UK establishment panics

An electoral earthquake is coming in the UK. If you are around next Friday night we are having a few drinks to celebrate at the Unite Union office in Auckland. Come along from 2pm and we will broadcast the results on a big screen.

The Jeremy Corbyn lead Labour Party has gone from 28% to 38% in the polls in a few weeks. They are now just three points behind in one of the most recent. This happened as soon as certain electoral rules kicked in for the media to start treating each party in a fairer way.

 

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