The National-led majority in Parliament passed the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Act 2016 last August at the behest of the big retailers. The law change allows local councils to adopt Easter Sunday trading. This is another step in the erosion of public holidays. There were already a host of exemptions that allowed cafés, fast-food and tourist-related businesses to open on Easter Sunday. Previously, shop workers were guaranteed to have just 3 of the public holidays off work: Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Where a council permits Easter Sunday trading, shop workers are within their rights to refuse to work, but in reality few would risk the ire of their employer. [Read more…]
On 28 January this website posted a report on the Lyttleton port dispute. This is a brief update.
The port company’s legal challenge to the Maritime Union’s strike notice for the Waitangi Day long weekend failed clearing the way for the 3–day strike. The Maritime Union has given notice of a strike from 17-19 February, in addition to the notice for 11-12 February previously reported.
Junior Doctors – New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association
Junior doctors staged a national 73 hour strike from 17 to 20 January. This follows a 48 hour strike in October. The issue: fatigue. The doctors are seeking more reasonable hours of work in their negotiations over a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement with the District Health Boards. Currently they can be made to work for seven nights in a row and up to 12 day shifts in a row. The union has been campaigning for a maximum of four nights and 10 day shifts in a row.
In an interview with RNZ, the NZRDA’s general secretary, Deborah Powell, explained that a compromise agreement had been worked out in negotiations, but the employer side had not been able to make a formal offer without consulting the DHBs’ chief executives. At the time of writing, the union was still waiting to find out whether the employers were willing to sanction the draft agreement. [Read more…]
From the 13th of February, Work and Income New Zealand will now demand that you provide a community services card and a valid photo ID such as a passport or driver’s license before being allowed to enter the building. This is nothing less than an abandonment of people in need in New Zealand, preventing them from even enquiring about the services the state is legally and duty-bound to provide.
The difficulty and expense of getting a passport or a license in New Zealand now precludes the ability of some of the worst off in New Zealand to even ask for assistance from a department whose sole responsibility is to look after the vulnerable. [Read more…]
He is New Zealand’s richest man and yet virtually no-one knows about him. Famously recluse and avoiding media attention, Graeme Hart is New Zealand’s most successful vulture capitalist. He is valued by Forbes magazine last year at $11.6 Billion. Beginning life as a high school dropout and working as a panel beater, Hart’s rags to riches story is upheld as the epitome of the Kiwi battler. But much of his wealth has come through debt financing and hostile takeovers at the cost of workers and the environment. [Read more…]
Fidel Castro has died. We mourn him from the depth of our hearts; for his victories and for his failings, for the achievements of the Cuban revolution and for its weaknesses but most of all for the achievements of his generation, for our own parents and our grandparents.
Fidel Castro “invaded” Cuba, his homeland, in 1956. At the time, the country was under the control of a US-backed dictator – Batista. Castro’s strategy was flawed: to get peasant support in the back country and then invade the cities. Socialism is about working people taking power themselves, not armed guerillas freeing them. However, the Batista regime was so rotten and corrupt that Castro’s rebellion, combined with general strikes in the cities were enough to overthrow it. [Read more…]
“This is not a weapons trading event, this is normal everyday New Zealand businesses that supply goods and services to support the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence” is what a representative said of yesterday’s Weapons Conference in Auckland’s Viaducts Event Centre, which was sponsored by none other than the world’s largest weapon’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.
This quote’s description of the conference as “normal everyday New Zealand businesses” is reminiscent of the phrase “there’s nothing to see here”; which always means that there is something to see. “Normal everyday” is a strange combination of words, one that might be used by someone caught doing something wrong. “No, don’t worry, this is just a normal everyday grenade I always carry around.” Putting the words “normal” and “everyday” in front of a concept doesn’t remove the violence it represents. [Read more…]
Last week between 300-400 people gathered outside the Union building at Otago University to protest proposed cuts to the Humanities division. Up to 20 jobs are at risk across the History, Anthropology and Archaeology, English, Languages, and Music departments, and the TEU has been vocal in its campaign against the cuts. There was a prior protest of similar size in August, and a smaller one outside a lecture theatre where Bill English was speaking in September. The tree next to the Union building had been adorned with knitted and paper hearts, the latter of which bore messages of support for the humanities. Once the crowd has assembled we began marching to the steps opposite the clock tower, led by a bagpiper. [Read more…]
By Brian Roper
The NZ Productivity Commission is currently systematically reviewing tertiary education in this country. Chapter 12 of its draft report is entitled ‘A System that Supports New Models’. Here are some highlights (or lowlights):
- The re-introduction of interest rates on student loans, universities given complete autonomy to set fees without regulatory caps (‘unregulated fees’) to cover the full costs of providing degrees,
- student education to be funded with vouchers and ‘student education accounts’,
- tertiary education providers allowed to become self-accrediting,
- universities given freedom to sell off assets to private sector firms, and
- the abolition of the requirement for university teaching to be researched based. [Read more…]
About 40 medicinal cannabis campaigners rallied at Parliament on Wednesday in support of a petition being handed in, and for Damien O’Connor’s Members Bill to permit medicinal cannabis being prescribed for the terminally ill and sufferers of significant pain. Yes Damien O’Connor, the sometimes illiberal Labour MP for West Coast. If O’Connor can support this step, surely anyone can! In fact the latest poll on this issue showed that 76% of New Zealanders support a law change to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors. Only 12% are opposed, and 12% undecided. The Government, however, are out of touch with public opinion. [Read more…]
On 25 August the government majority in Parliament passed the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Act by a vote of 62 to 59. Peter Dunne, David Seymour (ACT) and Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party) voted with the National Party, who were whipped for this measure. Marama Fox (Maori Party) voted against along with Labour, the Greens and NZ First. Dunne, who claims liberality, and Flavell, who purports to represent Maori, have yet again swung a majority for a reactionary attack on workers’ rights.
What this amendment does is to make possible shops opening on Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the Christian calendar. Until now, Easter Sunday has been one of only 3½ days in the year when shops could not open legally. Easter Sunday opening has been a long-running aim of big retailers, but previously they have failed to achieve a parliamentary majority for a straight-forward legalisation. This latest attempt salves the Christian consciences of some National MPs by passing the responsibility for decisions on Easter Sunday trading to local councils. [Read more…]