Share Button standard

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Alliance is a party for the working class

by Len Richards – Alliance Co-leader

The Alliance contested the 2005 election as a party for the working class. As such, the Alliance campaigned for the defeat of National and the extreme right-wing elements that supported Brash’s campaign.
It was the large turnout of working class voters, especially in South Auckland, that assured Labour enough seats to form a government. Labour must repay that support with measures to improve the lot of the working class people, many of whom are struggling to survive on pitifully low incomes.
The Government has said it will raise the minimum wage to $12 in 2008 "if economic conditions permit". This is not good enough.
The immediate abolition of youth rates would be start, and Sue Bradford’s private members bill to that effect should be supported by all who claim to be "with the workers", including Labour MPs.
The Greens and Workers’ Charter are pushing for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $12 an hour. This, the Alliance supports as well. However, if the minimum wage was set at two-thirds of the average wage ($21.13 in November, 2005), in line with the ILO Standard, it would be $14 an hour, and this would make a real difference to hundreds of thousands of workers.
Despite six years of a Labour Government, low hourly rates and the loss of overtime rates mean low-paid workers are worse off in real terms then they were 15 years ago. Workers have to work long hours just to make ends meet.
In real terms, wage rises are barely keeping up with rising prices. Unemployment may well be low by international standards, but many jobs are part-time or casual. Insecurity haunts working class suburbs.
Casual workers often miss out on basic entitlements such as sick leave or parental leave, and they are easily dismissed.
The State has allowed wages and conditions to be driven down by contracting out services such as cleaning in hospitals and doing nothing to ensure workers get a living wage and decent conditions.
The Alliance says we need to:
Increase the minimum wage: The Alliance policy is for a minimum wage of $15 an hour. We oppose discriminatory youth rates. Everyone (those with jobs and beneficiaries) should get an income they can live on.
Control excessive hours: We supports the introduction of a 35-hour working week with no loss of pay and immediate introduction of 4 weeks annual leave. Workers should have the right to refuse unreasonable hours or shift work, and mandatory overtime rates.
Introduce responsible contracting: Where employers get public money to deliver services, we think they should be required to meet national standards in pay and conditions.
Protect casual workers: We fight for protections for casual and part-time workers and make it possible for them to carry over service from job to job so they qualify for public holidays, sick leave and parental leave.
Secure a right to redundancy: All workers should have the right to a minimum redundancy payment, but many do not have the power to negotiate this. Our policy is for minimum redundancy of 4 weeks pay, plus 2 weeks pay for every year of service.
Address pay equity in the private sector: Pay inequities in the private sector as well as the public sector will be reduced when we have free childcare, after-school care and when the work that women commonly do is rewarded with decent pay.
Extend Paid Parental leave: We fight for 12 months paid parental leave for all women workers, including casual and seasonal workers. We also support 2 weeks paid parental leave for partners.
Legalise the right to strike: Workers should have the right to strike to enforce their Collective Agreement, to oppose lay-offs, to support other workers, and for political reasons.
Introduce workplace democracy: Workers should have a say in the way work is organised. The Alliance will push for stronger employment legislation to ensure greater workplace democracy.

1 comment:

PaedsRN said...

Hello. Just an FYI, Newsoc has been added to a repository of NZ blog links at