Sunday, February 20, 2011

Action against benefit cuts in Auckland tomorrow

The NZHerald is reporting that beneficaries face a bombshell tomorrow as the Government's Welfare Working Group is about to release a report that is expected to recommend radical and destructive changes to New Zealand's social welfare system.

Sue Bradford led Auckland Action Against Poverty is leading the charge against the new round of benefit cuts with a picket at the Henderson WINZ office at 2pm tomorrow.

In an excellent article Gordon Campbell has deconstructed 10 Myths about Welfare attempting to introduce some rationality into the debate about welfare.

One of the interesting things that Campbell points out is that "Looking across all forms of benefits, 61.4 % of recipients are benefit dependent for four years or less".

Of those who are benefit dependent for longer, many are chronically physically and mentally disabled. Cutting benefits is about attacking those least able to work at the same time as the availability of jobs shrinks. Benefit cuts are about making life an absolute misery for the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who take a benefit from time to time because there are no jobs available, they are caring for children or because they are too sick to work.

Attacking benefits is about screwing the poor. "Lazy dole bludgers", "dpb mothers", "idle beneficiaries", is endlessly repeated by right wing columnists, politicians and bloggers in an attempt to demonise the unemployed working class.

The feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s won among many other things the DPB.

The reality is that only a few people make a lifestyle choice to be unemployed. For the rest of us being without a job is sheer misery. As an ACC clinician told the Herald, "The suicide risk in young men aged 18 to 24 who have been out of work more than six months is 40 times higher than for those in work.

The struggle against benefit cuts is more than just a struggle for the right to work, it is also a struggle for the right to live. Successive generations of New Zealanders have fought for and won the unemployment benefits on the streets through mass action. Now the fight is on to defend those gains, during the worst econoic crisis since the 1930s. In 1932 an "angry Autumn" of protests by a united front of unemployed workers and trade unions brought the demands of the working class into explosive confrontation with capitalism. Riots erupted in Auckland and Wellington. These were days in which the working class stood united and when public servants and railwaymen, relief workers and postal workers marched together, united against the Government's attacks on wages and failure to provide jobs and welfare.

With the CTU planning on mobilising another round of protests against the Government on April 1 and Maori planning a hikoi to Parliament over the Marine and Coastal Area Bill, this year could be another hot autumn for a rightwing Government in the middle of a recession.

Tomorrow, get out and join the resistance to benefit cuts. "They say cutback? We say fightback!"

1930s protest against unemployment crowds Parliament steps.

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