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.


MUNZ National Secretary Joe Fleetwood

Read more

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.
Read more

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.



Read more

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.
Read more

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.



Read more

McDonalds 2017 Ratification Vote

McDonald's and Unite Union Collective Agreement Ratification Vote.

The Unite Union bargaining group of ten workplace delegates along with two union officials recommended the offer negotiated. It was accepted by 98% of members who voted.


Read more

New Zealand Labour Letter - May, 2017

Below we reprint the latest edition of the New Zealand Labour Letter. The online publication of the New Zealand Labour Letter is provided as a service to Labour by AIL of New Zealand Ltd.  People can register for their no-cost subscription to the New Zealand Labour Letter at

National Labour News

Unions praised the government's equal pay settlement for 55,000 aged-care workers, which will cost $2 billion over the next five years. E tū assistant national secretary John Ryall said the settlement, once ratified, would mean a "once in a lifetime pay rise which will end poverty wages" for a mainly female workforce. The New Zealand Nurses Organisation, the Public Service Association and the Council of Trade Unions have also backed the settlement. Existing staff will now be paid between $19 and $23.50 an hour from July 1. By July 2021, the entry-level rate will be $21.50 an hour, with a top rate of $27. Workers now earn an average of just over $16 an hour, with many on the minimum wage of $15.75, the unions said. The workers provide government-funded aged residential care, home support and disability services for around 110,000 people.


Wellington aged care worker Kristine Bartlett brought a court case that snowballed into pay equity reform.


Read more

What causes crime?

By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

I disagree with many people on the left who blame crime on poverty.

I believe it is a product of the breakdown in human solidarity. Sometimes that is associated with periods of social crisis, unemployment and poverty – but not always. And it is not a simple matter of cause and effect.


Read more

We Resist. We Build. We Rise. A worker's report from the People's Climate March in Christchurch

Unite Union Executive Board Member Moniqua Reid reporting from the People's Climate March in Christchurch.


Christchurch Climate Parade Play “Earthy Earth & the Forces of Doom”

April the 29th brought together workers, students, various organizations and environmental groups around the world to make it clear that climate change needs action now and that the people want a sustainable future with sustainable energy. This day is known for the People’s Climate Marches around the world, which have spread from the United States as people from all walks of life continue the fight for climate justice.

The first People's Climate March was created in 2014 as 400,000 strong marched through the streets of New York City demanding urgent action for our global climate crisis on the eve of the 21st annual UN Climate Summit in Paris. Unite union members also marched for climate justice on the People's Climate Marches in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin. This UN Climate Negotiations meeting in Paris was attended by Unite union official Gary Cranston who pushed for a "Just Transition" for workers and their communities, which was eventually included in the text of the agreement. Since then many commentators believe these global marches to be one of the key instigators that bought about the Paris Agreement. At this point in time the Paris Agreement is the most comprehensive global agreement to address climate change, although it is woefully inadequate when it comes to detailing fair and effective actions that will actually deal with the problem.


Christchurch and Taranaki had events planned for the worldwide march. Christchurch had a parade organised with key speakers in Cathedral Square and a play created by Simon Brown - "Earthy Earth and the Forces of Doom", the play followed Earthy Earth on a downward spiral after being convinced to try a ‘hit’ of CO2 and Methane from Dirty Fossil Man and his acquaintance, Stinky Cow. This was closely followed by a march led by Earthy Earth and her saviours, The Eco Kids, Eco Nurses and Eco Warrior. There was an estimated 600 people marching around the Christchurch CBD with amazing placards, my personal favourite being a polar bear flipping everyone off.

Nicole and I were out in force for the climate parade in Christchurch to take a stance against climate injustice and to demand actual concrete change towards a more sustainable future. Climate change is one of those issues that you can’t immediately see the results from, it’s slow moving but it is incredibly important for young individuals and the working class to create noise for the world in which we live fairly and sustainably in. If every person made a change in their own lives as small as recycling, car-sharing to work, reducing individual beef intake or buying more products packaged in cardboard or glass rather than plastic, then this would make a great start!


Links to further reading:

Unite supports climate justice

Unite union condemns exclusion of ‘just transition’ in the Draft Paris Outcome

LET US STAY- Extend the amnesty for Migrant Workers in NZ. This Saturday 12 Noon at Unite

Hello, Ni Hao, my name is Julia Liu and I am the Co-President of the SkyCity Employees Association of Unite Union.
The Government has changed the rules for workers under the skilled migrant category. The government has now increased the points required to get permanent residence under the skilled worker category and imposed a minimum income requirement of over $48,859 that many will not be able to meet. Those who don't meet the new requirements will have a maximum of three years before they are kicked out.
Read more