Life During Capitalism- one history student's perspective on life during capitalism

"To omit or to minimize these voices of resistance is to create the idea that power only rests with those who have the guns, who possess the wealth, who own the newspapers and the television stations. I want to point out that people who seem to have no power, whether working people, people of colour, or women-once they organize and protest and create movements-have a voice no government can suppress." Howard Zinn

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Work Rights, Our Right

Hello. Yeah. I can see you there in the Quad. Cigarette held neatly between your fingers. Yep I can see you now. Expertly flicking away the ash at the tip, looking up and staring out over the empty coke bottles and chocolate wrappers that share this patch of campus with you. Or are you in a crowded lecture hall crammed in next to two kids who sit there furiously scribbling in their books whatever garbage comes out of the lecturer’s mouth? Or are you on the bus home, as the sun sullenly dips behind a row of deep gray clouds hanging over the Waitakeres?

Anyhow wherever you are it is important that you read this article. You’ve got the time to pick up Craccum for a quick flick through at least so you may as well read something worthwhile. I’ll tell you now that by reading this article you could affect the course of millions of New Zealanders lives. Or maybe you knew that already…

To fill you in: National Party MP Wayne Mapp has a bill before parliament that would leave workers with no employment rights in the first 90 days of any new job. Because in any 90 day period 297 000 New Zealanders change jobs that means nearly 300 000 of us will be without rights at work at any one time. This bill will make it perfectly legal for bosses to fire workers on the spot for any reason they like or simply for no reason at all. For seasonal and temporary workers this means no rights at work…ever.

But don’t be tricked by the propaganda. This bill isn’t about “probationary employment”, because we already have legislation that provides for employment on a probationary basis. Nor is this bill about reducing unemployment. We already have extremely low unemployment levels and this bill will just make it easier for workers to end up on the sack heap by stripping them of all legal protections from unfair employer practices like 89-day contracts. Now Mapp reckons we should look to the United States and Australia as a model of industrial relations law. But we need to see however the dangers of replicating Australian or US law. The US has this type of legislation and around 200 000 workers get the sack a year unfairly! In Australia they’ve just brought in this type of law and an engineer was fired for “smirking at the boss”. This isn’t really the kind of law we want in New Zealand if you ask most people.

“How did this get into New Zealand?” I hear you asking. Because the National Party and Act, NZ First, United Future and three Maori Party MPs (Tariana Turia, Te Ururoa Flavell and Pita Sharples) supported it. Pita Sharples has recently, however confirmed he will vote against the bill when the bill makes it to the second (and final) parliamentary reading. It’s now at the select committee stage. Labour and the Greens are staunchly against this, which means that whether the bill goes through or not largely depends on the vote of one or two MPs in the Maori Party. AUSA has policy against this bill but is yet to really raise its voice against the Bill.

However there is hope! A national campaign to “Kill the Bill” is in progress. There have been big rallies in Christchurch and Wellington. Workers unions are mobilising to meet the threat this bill poses to peoples work rights if it passes especially the threat it poses to students like you and me who hold down part time jobs, which usually don’t last longer than three months. The campaign will only succeed if students get involved and actively fight back and stand up for our rights! In France, students were able to defeat similar legislation with massive mobilisations and confrontations with riot police. They showed the way forward in how to fight injustice with mass direct action and a strategy, which required that the government back down. Luckily we don’t have to do anything as drastic as riot (just yet) to have our voices heard in Aotearoa. We do need to get out and join workers when they protest this attack on our work rights this week.

On Wednesday, August 23 there is a mass rally against the bill in Aotea Square at 12:30pm followed by a march down Queen Street. The rally is being organised by the Engineering Print and Manufacturing Union with participation from other community groups. So if you’re free on Wednesday make your way down to the rally or come at 1:30pm for the march if you’re planning on going to AUSA’s AGM. If we value our jobs and our communities we can’t let this bill go through. Anyhow. Thought I’d warn you now because if you decide not to get out there on Wednesday with the rest of us to protect our rights and this bill does pass don’t come blaming me when you get the sack for smirking at your boss next year. Cause I’ll be there. Rain or shine.For more information on the bill see
Published in Craccum August 20, 2006



At 6:55 AM, Blogger Asher said...

You stole my photo :P

Good choice :)

At 11:51 AM, Blogger moredeadcops said...

great article bromar!

it's good to see you're doing things against this!

send an email when ya get the chance

keep up the fight cause we're about to win!

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At 8:34 PM, Blogger Abdul said...

no it was my photo

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