Sunday, June 19, 2011

A guide to John Key's war on working people

Since being elected in 2008 John Key and the National Party have waged a savage war on working people. Instead of deliviring a “brighter future” of high wages and low crime, John Key’s Government has gone about enriching the super-rich elite and big business at the expense of working people.

Asset sales

National’s plan is to sell off 50% of the state-owned electricity companies and Air New Zealand if they win this year’s election. Selling the electricity companies will inevitably lead to higher electricity prices, less revenue to pay for public services and corporate control of the energy market. Electricity is a public resource and as socialists we don’t think anyone should make a private profit everytime we turn on a light or boil a kettle. No wonder 2/3rds of us oppose asset sales.

Health privatisation
In Queenstown the National Government are planning on selling off the public hospital and health facilities and replacing them with corporate healthcare on contract to the Government.

Privatisation of healthcare will put patients lives at risk as corporations managing hospitals attempt to cut costs by overworking staff. Yet privatisation will also cost more as the American model of corporate healthcare shows. When services are privatised not only will we still pay for the costs of healthcare but we’ll also be paying extra so a corporate healthcare company can make a juicy profit.

Privatising Queenstown’s hospital is just one part of the National Government’s plan to radically reduce the accesibility of health services to ordinary New Zealanders. The parts of this plan so far include; privatising ACC provision, paying private hospitals to carry out public health system operations and negotiating away the Government’s right to subsidise medicines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Growing unemployment
There are now nearly a quarter of a million New Zealanders officially jobless and each week sees more job losses either as a result of the 2008 economic crisis, the Christchurch quake, or offshoring of jobs, Continually unemployment is described by politicians and the market as something that can be solved through the market and business growth. Yet as corporate profits rise, workers real wages fall, then consumption falls and companies cut more jobs.

The only way to solve create new jobs in a time of capitalist crisis is for the state or the community to begin to intervene in the economy through state created industry or new public works spending. The cost of providing jobs to the unemployed is comparatively small. The difference between the $180 per week the state provides in unemployment assistance to a single 20-24 youth and the $600 per week it could pay in return for community service, construction or any other form of employing an unemployed worker is just $21,840 per year.

To put that in perspective the $1.7 billion taxpayer bailout for South Canterbury Finance could pay the wages of 77,838 unemployed workers. Look at it another way and instead of providing tax cuts to the rich that will cost the Government $4 billion in 2011 could have created full employment.


Education cuts

Not only has National cut funding for night classes and tertiary education. They have also slashed $400million in funding for trained teachers in early childhood centres. According to the NZEI, “The cuts will affect 93,000 children enrolled in 2000 early childhood services”. Early childcare centres will be forced to either raise fees or cut the number of trained teachers. These attacks will hurt the children of the working poor the most. In NZn early 1 in 4 children growing up under the poverty line.

Secret free trade deals
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a free trade agreement being negotiated between New Zealand, the US and seven other ountries. As TPP Watch say, “Trade is only a minor part of the agreement. That’s just a clever branding exercise. A TPPA would be an agreement that guarantees special rights to foreign investors. If these negotiations succeed they will create a mega-treaty across 9 countries that will put a straight jacket around what policies and laws our governments can adopt for the next century – think GM labelling, foreign investment laws, price of medicines, regulating dodgy finance firms, NZ content on TV …”

Tax cuts for the super rich
In 2010 John Key brought in his long awaited tax cuts. Yet of the $14 billion of tax cuts that Key announced for the next four years the richest 10 per cent of people got 42 per cent of the tax cuts and the bottom 20 per cent got just 2 per cent. To top it off John Key also raised GST to 15% which affects the working poor more because the lower your income is the greater proportion you end up spending on essentials like food, petrol and rent. Key also made sure to lower the corporate tax rate, give massive tax breaks and cash grants to big corporates like the weapons company Rakon or the union-busting film empire Warner Brothers.

Basically Key’s tax cuts were just another way to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Removing workers’ rights
Even though 80% of New Zealanders don’t support the new employment law changes that allow businesses to unfairly dismiss staff from April 1 it will be allowed. The new employment laws are designed to give workers less rights and corporations more power and more money. The main changes to the employment laws are:

* All workers starting a new job can be required to agree to a 90-day fire-at-will period.
* All workers will have fewer grounds to appeal when they are dismissed unfairly.
* If you are unfairly dismissed you do not have a right to expect to be reinstated to your old job.
* The union organiser will require the employers’ permission to come on to the job.
* You can be required to produce a sick note – without any reason, after just one day
* Employers can now “buy” back you fourth week’s annual leave.
* Employers can now tell you when you should have an alternate day’s holiday when you work on a public holiday.

Corporate welfare

The Government is giving billions in corproate welfare to huge corporates and wealthy shareholders at the same time as working people face growing unemployment, new work laws, GST rising and cuts to health and education. There are a number of examples such as the bailout of South Canterbury Finance to the tune of $1.7billion or the wage subsidy paid to McDonald’s for giving unemployed people jobs, or the massive subsidies to polluting corporations under the ETS.

-Socialist Aotearoa

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