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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jill Ovens - speech to combined union rally Manukau - 27 August 2008

It's great to see so many workers - members of the SFWU and EPMU as well as other unions. We have shown today that when we stand together, when we fight alongside each other, we will be heard!
We're experiencing today the power of workers united; the power of the union and isn't it great?
In the next few weeks the future of New Zealand will be decided by you and all those others who take the time to cast their vote.
The Election this year will be closely fought - much closer than the polls predict, much closer than the media suggests. This is because they represent the interests of big business and they underestimate the power we hold as workers, as family members and as members of our communities.
The choice is stark.
Do we continue with a worker-friendly Government that works for us?
OR do they take control?
Do we entrust John Key with our future, our kids' welfare, our health care, our education system?
Is that what we want?
Can we stop that?

Under Labour we have Kiwi Bank, KiwiSaver, and Kiwi Rail: all owned by us Kiwis, all run for our benefit.
Under National, instead of Kiwi, we will get the "Key Way" which means ALL these will be sold off. They will all end up in the hands of Key's rich mates; to make them even richer.
Is that what we want?
Can we stop that?

This Government works for us. This Government put in $16 million to pay every cleaner, every kitchen worker, every orderly, from Invercargill to Kaitaia at least $14.62 an hour.
That's why when we asked SFWU members at AGMs held all round the country, "Do you want our Union to actively campaign to return a Labour-led Government?", 84% of them said "Yes!"
The Labour Party was built by the trade unions. It is the only mass workers' party in New Zealand. It is our party and it is up to us to make sure it remains our party ... in Government.
That's because, while this Government has delivered much for workers, there is more work to be done.
We need stronger collective bargaining rights across whole industries; like the old Awards.
We need a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
We need to deal with freeloaders.
And we need the right to strike when a Collective Agreement is in force and the employer uses restructuring or the threat of outsourcing to force cuts in conditions, like Air NZ did.
Will National extend our right to strike? Will they stop freeloaders? Will they get us $15 an hour? Will they strengthen collective bargaining?
National is the party of big business. They want to cut workers' rights, especially the rights of new workers. That's what their 90 Day Bill was about and they still plan to do it.
We have an important duty to do over the next eight or nine weeks. We need to make sure our workmates and our whanau are on the Roll.
We need to talk to everyone we know about why it's important to defend our rights at work and all the gains of this Government. That way you don't just have your vote; you get to multiply your influence. If 5000 workers here today talk to 5 people each, that's 25,000 and if those people speak to 5 each, that's 150,000 votes - and that's an extra 6 MPs in Parliament working for us.
That will make the difference in the election
It is our job to mobilise everyone who wants to keep what we have won in the last nine years, everyone who wants to go forward.
We have to turn out on Election Day in numbers never seen before; in Mangere, in Manukau East, in Manurewa, Maungakiekie, Papakura and Botany; to be there in our hundreds of thousands, to vote for "Fairness at Work", to vote for "Workers' Rights", to vote for OUR Government.
Then this country will see the power of the workers; the power of the people.
Who's got the power?
[We've got the power.]
What kind of power?
[Union power!]

It's in our hands.
When you cast your vote on Election Day, vote for workers' rights!

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