Thursday, 21 October 2010

Thousands stand up for workers’ rights

There’s comprahensive coverage of yesterday’s trade union protests against the government’s attacks on workers’ rights at the CTU’s Fairness at Work facebook page. Here’s a brief and enthusiastic summary from that site:
Awesome! By lunchtime more than 15,000 workers had attended stopwork meetings and rallies. 7,000 packed the TelstraClear Stadium in Auckland and 4,000 piled into Parliament Grounds. 1500 rallied in Hamilton, 800 in Hastings and 750 in Nelson. Thousands more are expected in events throughout the afternoon in many centres!! Woop Woop!
I can’t give my own report, because there was no rally here in Christchurch, but I hope you will leave your thoughts and comments about the protests in your area in the comments section.

- David


Miles Lacey said...

15,000 people turning out for a protest will not sway the grey suits and the media because they know the majority of the public is anti-union and couldn't care less about public servants, teachers, beneficiaries and low paid workers who do the shit jobs because of the belief that they're all lazy or stupid and expendable. It's not the politicans we need to sway but the public. They can afford to dismiss 15,000 people. It's not so easy to dismiss 1.5 million people.

David said...

It's true that most workers are not union members, and 15,000 (or even 22,000 which is the higher figure I've heard) itself is not very big compared to the number of union members.

I also agree that more needs to be done to win over the "the public".

But I don't agree that "the majority of the public is anti-union..." etc. I haven't seen any evidence for this claim.

In fact when you group together "public servants, beneficiaries and low paid workers" your talking about a big chunk of the "public".

Who else is there? High paid workers? Not too many of them, and a high proportion are union members.

Grant said...

The Wellington rally was *awesome*! The reported size of 4,000 may have been conservative.
Hundreds stopped work at Wellington Hospital to take part, so the lift in confidence from the day will really spread at my worksite.
Great uptake of Unity's "kick up a fuss" tax justice leaflets, too.

Grant said...

@Miles - The "grey suits" may or may not make some concessions on the law changes, but these protests are going to create all sorts of ripples. The union movement is like the proverbial battleship which takes ages (sometimes seems like forever) to build up momentum, but once it's in motion it's not easy to stop. I believe these actions, and all the buzz about them in homes and workplaces afterwards, will shift public opinion, more solidly behind the Fairness at Work cause. I think they could also start to dent National's poll ratings, and make industrial relations an election issue (as it was in Australia, when John Howard lost the election on it). Some National (and Maori Party?) MPs may start to reflect on their re-election chances, as Nikki Kaye did over mining in National Parks, causing caucus splits that forced a u-turn. I know for a fact that this movement will spur more determined bargaining in my union early next year - which in itself will cause new headaches for the government. So take heart. The size of the stop work exceeded the expectations of everyone I know. This is a *big* step forward for all rassroots people in Aotearoa.