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Friday, August 20, 2010

Wellington Stands for Union Rights

Walking into Civic Square, the sea of different banners and flags were an inspiring picture of our diversity, and our unity. Everyone was there: Maori, Pakeha, Pacific Islander and Asian workers, men and women, nurses with the NZNO, banking workers with FINSEC, Unite’s crew of striking JB Hi Fi workers, teachers from the NZEI and PPTA, Service and Food Workers, public servants with the PSA, tertiary sector unionists, maritime workers, and many others more. We were all united against the 90 Day Bill and its attack on our rights and, in our numbers, we showed the power of the union movement and the face of the modern working class.

Today’s rally was a good first step. We mobilized in impressive numbers, and the crowd responded well to calls for more action and determination. That many hundreds came to Civic Square showed again that, when unions issue a call to mobilize, there’s a response.

So we should take inspiration from a day of unity and action.

But today also showed the challenges facing our side. Talk from the leadership and from the stage didn’t suggest a way forward for now. It won’t be enough to rely on Labour and, if we hope to defeat this bill, it’s not going to be enough to talk of another rally in a few months’ time. We need to be planning for action, self-activity, strikes, and ‘naming and shaming’ employers who use the 90 day provision, like the snap picket which happened after the rally in Wellington today against Burger Fuel and their unfair dismissal.

Let’s take heart from the numbers and the mood from today’s inspiring rally, and turn that energy and anger to organising.
-Dougal McNeill, SA Wellington

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