Thursday, October 28, 2010

UK: Single Parents, Housing Benefits Cut

The Welfare Working Group in Wellington is looking at the UK, US, Australian and Canadian models of welfare, so we should beware. Here's what they are doing in the UK:

Women Pay: Female single parents pay the most for the male bankers'crisis

Economic Cleansing:
Benefits cut, rents up: this is Britain's housing time bomb

A final solution for the poor – send them to distant dumping grounds where there are no jobs

UK Cuts rely on women replacing welfare


Attacks on our living conditions continue unabated worldwide as governments try to make us pay for the capitalist crisis. In the UK the ConDem Government has introduced extremely savage cuts including axing half a million public sector jobs, cutting benefits and ending the universal child benefit. Selma James from the Global Women's Strike says that this will leave women's unpaid work to take up the tab.

She says that after World War Two "millions demanded socialism- and the welfare state was what we got." This has been eroded by successive governments including Thatcherism ("there is no such thing as society") in the eighties (think-Rogernomics, NZ); and welfare reform legislation in recent times (beware "welfare reform" in NZ).

She argues for a society where the work of caring for children and others is given the support and importance it deserves and calls for us to get active in a strong fight back. .

The Tory 'big society' relies on women replacing welfare

Families with children will bear the brunt of privatisation and cuts – leaving carers with more unwaged work than ever

Thursday 21 October 2010 20.35 BST

President's Report-Summary

Summary of the President's report to the Waitemata Unite AGM 16th October 2010

New enrolment form designed together with Unite HQ; and fee increase.

Our branch has been in negotiations with Unite HQ over the past year about formalising our membership and fee payment arrrangements. We agreed to pay the increased fee of $2.00 per week as soon as a collaboratively designed new membership form was available and arrangements were completed for the fee to be efficiently transferred from our branch to HQ, and back again to our branch for our union work. We also decided to send a remit to the Unite National Conference asking for fees for beneficiaries to be reduced; and to do fund- raising to help active members who can’t afford the $2.00. These arrangements are now nearly complete.

Delegate and Remits at Unite National Conference 25, 26 November 2010 This year we have been allocated a place for one delegate at the national conference, who we need to choose today.

Picketting Paula Bennett.

We held a well attended picket outside Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s office in March after the announcement of benefit cuts. This was the first time that we used Facebook and wrote on friendly blog sites like Socialist Aotearoa to advertise an action. This picket got a lot of publicity including on national radio, with a plug from Matt Mccarten, Unite Secretary, and support from Joe Carolan from Unite and Socialist Aotearoa. We printed a number of placards at Unite HQ. Joe and some of the Unite Living Wage crew turned up to support the picket and a wide number of people from the left. I took a number of photos of the picket, which I also displayed on facebook and also on our blog.

On Mayday we went to Piha to picket Paula Bennett at a public meeting, but it turned out to be a fairly low key event as it was only a clinic.

IN August we attended a public meeting with Paula Bennett at the Fickling Centre in Mt Roskill where she met considerable challenge from ourselves and others in the audience.

Other May Day events

After the Piha protest, we came back into town and attended several protests including the Mining protest, the Palestine Rally, the combined unions Mayday rally, and some of us attended the Unite May Day social in the evening.

Search and Surveillance Protest-several Unite Waitemata members attended this march earlier in the year.

90 Day Protests

Several of our members were out in force at the 90 Day protest outside the National Party conference at Sky City and have been active on this issue since including attending a public meeting at the university, and two of us have attended meetings of the Auckland Solidarity Network which-together with Unite- helped organise a very successful picket gainst an employer who sacked an employee under the legislation. Waitemata Unite is preparing to attend the 90 Day rally on 20 October called by the unions.

The 90 Day issue is crucial for beneficiaries who could be forced by WINZ to sign employment contracts using the 90 day legislation, and then could face a 91 day benefit stand down if sacked for no reason under the 90 Day law.

Unite Protests and Pickets

Our members have been very active in support of the Unite $15 per hour campaign and the JB Hi Fi pickets.

Palestine/Israel Protests Our members took part in an urgent protest in response to Israel’s murder of nine innocent people on the Gaza flotilla earlier this year.

Blog and Facebook Group. I have been working continuously with members on the Waitemata Unite blog all year, at, reporting our actions, sending in photos, reporting beneficiary protests overseas, reporting relevant news from New Zealand and overseas, and encouraging comments from readers.. I have started a Waitemata Unite Facebook Group which has attracted some interest around New Zealand and internationally.

Supporting our member getting her pay

We ventured into the field of workplace issues when one of our members was not paid the pay that she was due from a former employer. The threat of publicity and a quick word with a representative for the offending employer fixed that and our member got her pay!

Beneficiary Rights Groups and Forums

We have attended events organised by a number of groups who are raising beneficiary issues including the Child Poverty Action Group, the Alternative Welfare Working Group, the Kotare Centre, and a new beneficiaries’ action group which has been called for by Sue Bradford. We sent representatives to forums organised by the CPAG and the AWWG and also a disability forum organised by a Disability Law Centre. We are in touch with the Rotorua Peoples’ Union, which organised a dramatic protest in Rotorua this year; and the Wellington People’s Centre. I am also in touch with a group in Dunedin that wants to start up a beneficiaries’ union or perhaps form a branch of Unite.

Advocacy Training

Kay Beresford from the Wellington Peoples’ Centre has agreed to give advocacy training to some of our members in November.

Benefit Fact File

We receive updates of the Benefit Fact File from the Wellington People’s Centre around once or twice a year. This file has not yet been used to its full potential, but will be very useful when we begin to do more peer advocacy.

Auckland Super City Elections

Waitemata Unite members have been very active in grassroots movements aimed at opposing the privatisation of services such as water, and the anti-democratic structure of the new Auckland Super City, and have helped the campaign to get left leaning candidates elected.

Future Actions

I think that soon we need to get back to visiting WINZ offices to talk with and to recruit beneficiaries, and to give them leaflets explaining what the current political threats could be. We could also hold our own forums again.

This year WINZ took a large number of people off invalids benefits and onto sickness benefits, and National has passed legislation for work testing sickness beneficiaries and most single parents. Treasury is advocating further cuts, and the Welfare Working Group is looking at an insurance model which would disentitle most beneficiaries and allow people to receive help for only a short time. We are also seeing increasing privatisation of welfare services. This is why the need for beneficiaries to get organised is high.

When we go to WINZ we can hand out recruitment leaflets-which I have here-explaining the advantages of joining Unite, and encourage people to sign up with our new membership forms.

Over all this has been a good year for our branch, with steady attendance at meetings and lots of activity. The biggest blow is probably the fees increase within Unite, and of course the attacks from the government, without. However we have the potential to grow in numbers and in strength, and to help Unite to be truly a union for beneficiaries and paid workers as it was intended to be.

Finally, As an ex- treasurer I want to thank Paul Robertson for the fine job he has done, having taken over the huge job of treasurer, and also unofficial membership secretary, which goes with this job.

By Janet Robin

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Waitemata Unite AGM This Saturday

Waitemata Unite is having our Annual General Meeting this Saturday, October 16th, 11 am,
at the Avondale Community Centre, next to the Avondale Library, Rosebank Rd, Avondale.

We welcome in our new executive, who were elected unopposed. They are:
Keith, Secretary, tel 8369104
Janet, President, txt 021 2166937
Amy, Vice President, txt 021 1664230
Paul, Treasurer txt 0274223508

We'll be getting everyone renew their membership and fill in a new membership form.
New members are welcome.

We'll be electing a delegate and sending remits to the Unite National Conference, reviewing the past year, and talking about our plans and hopes for this year.

All members, friends and supporters are Welcome!

Bring a plate or something to drink.
Food will also be provided.
See you there!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why you need to Join Unite!

Why you need to Join Unite! Union- and Waitemata Unite

Unite! is a union for low paid and casual workers:

Unite is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing unions with over 10,000 members. Many young people who had never been in a union before are now proud Unite members. We are a lively and strong union who have had many successes! We successfully campaigned to abolish youth rates and to raise the minimum wage. Many of our members, such as those in the fast food industry, now have better wages and conditions protected by collective contracts. They are learning how when we unite together and stand strong, we can win!

Unite! is a union for unpaid workers:

Mothers are bringing up the future workers of our society. Carers care for the sick and elderly. Students spend hours studying and earning pay. Unemployed workers are workers.

Unite! is a community union:

Unite! is for those who are not in paid work for any reason such as illness, disability or caring for others. We are all members of a community or whanau and of the working class.

Unemployment rates are soaring. The government is not doing anything to create suitable jobs that meet our health needs or family responsibilities. It doesn’t value our contributions. It just wants to cut spending on benefits and make us look for non- existent work. Then it can give tax cuts to the rich and help employers keep wages down.

Work Tested Benefits and the 90 Day Fire at Will Act .

The 2010 Social Security Amendment Act comes into effect in October. This means that mothers with children over six , and those on sickness benefits, now join those on unemployment benefits in having to be available for paid work, whether it suits our family or health needs or not. We will be punished by having half our benefits slashed if we don’t comply. If we still don’t after four weeks, our benefits are stopped altogether!

Whenever we apply for a benefit, we face a thirteen week stand down if we left a previous job “for no good reason’ or were sacked for “misconduct”. Now the 90 Day Fire-at-Will Act means that we could be sacked from a job for no reason, and then could face a benefit stand down for another 91 days for being sacked!

Even worse, the Welfare Working Group and Treasury are thinking of reducing our entitlements even further and contracting out our benefits to private providers!

This is why you need Unite! Unite can fight these laws!

Unite! union fights for the rights of employed and beneficiaries!

Waitemata Unite! is a branch of the Unite! union.

If you are a paid worker, Unite! will represent you in any disputes with your employer. If you become unemployed, you can still be a member of Unite!

If you are a beneficiary, Waitemata Unite! will support you if you have trouble getting the benefit you are entitled to. We will attend WINZ appointments with you, and can call a picket if WINZ persists in treating someone unfairly.

Unite! is picketing employers who try to sack any worker under the 90 Day legislation. We intend to make this law unworkable!

Lower benefits mean lower wages! Employed and unemployed need to Unite! for a living income for all ! Join Unite! Fight for living benefits and living wages!

These employment and benefit laws are unjust, and they must be changed! We need to stand strong and show the Government we will not take it!

Workers in paid employment can go on strike. Beneficiaries can refuse to go shopping or take our kids out on a demonstration instead of doing the housework. We can all go on pickets. We need to support each other. Together we are strong.

Employed and unemployed, you will always be welcome with us!

We meet every 3rd Saturday of the month at 11 am at the Avondale Community Centre, and have regular pickets and forums.

Come along, have a cuppa, get involved!

Unemployed and Employed, Join Waitemata Unite today!

Issued by Waitemata Unite! 8369104 021 2166937

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Patronising to move disabled on to dole

A disabled group says a Treasury proposal to shift 80,000 sick and disabled people on to the dole is "naive and patronising".

Disabled Persons Assembly policy manager Wendi Wicks said most disabled people wanted to work, but needed help with healthcare, transport, education and housing to get suitable jobs.

"To say that it's just about getting a job is incredibly naive and patronising," she said.

Other social lobby groups also reacted angrily to a Treasury report to the Government's welfare working group which recommends moving work-capable people off the sickness and invalid benefits on to the dole, making sole parents look for work before their children turn 6, and contracting out welfare services to private providers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Now Treasury wants to Cut our Incomes!

Treasury has joined the fray of those wishing to cut our incomes and make life harder for us. In the first official paper yet issued by a government body, they want to force even more invalids to look for paid work before they can receive any income. Treasury recommends taking about another 80,000 people off sickness and invalids benefits and onto the dole. Not only this, but they want to force single parents on the DPB to look for work, when their child is even younger than six! This aims to save the government money whilst making life even more miserable and impossible for beneficiaries!
Every person who goes off the invalid's benefit onto another one loses $49 per week! Being an invalid is expensive! Invalids need to pay for medicines, special diets, home help, special furniture, special equipment such as wheelchairs, tele- text and so on. Those who wish to work can need special consideration and support in the work place, for example wheel chair access, or special office equipment. Are the government-or employers- going to provide this? Not likely! Instead we have heard of case officers telling a blind person to get a drivers licence, or a person without functioning arms to write or draw with a pen in their mouth! We have heard of people with mental illness being driven to distraction with terror because of pressure from their case officers to get a job, and suffering from starvation from punitive benefit cuts and stand downs.
Unemployment is rising, and yet government bodies continue to go on about making beneficiaries get paid work-which doesn't exist!. Instead of putting money into creating real work opportunities it cuts government spending and punishes those who can't find it. In the meantime those of us who do find paid work pay punitive secondary tax , whilst others get tax cuts!

Switch people to dole, says Treasury
(See the rest of the following article by Simon Collins at: )

About 80,000 people now on sickness and invalid benefits could be shifted on to the unemployment benefit under radical welfare reforms proposed by the Treasury.
A Treasury report to the Government's welfare working group recommends reclassifying all 144,000 people on sickness and invalid benefits into three categories based on their ability to work, shifting those with some capacity to work in the near future on to the unemployment benefit.
It also recommends requiring sole parents to look for paid work before their youngest children turn 6, and contracting out most welfare services to private companies or charities.
But its hard line is softened by other proposals to extend sick leave and parental leave entitlements, and to let sickness beneficiaries earn more from part-time work before having their benefits cut.
The welfare working group, chaired by economist Paula Rebstock, has been given until next February to come up with proposals to reduce long-term benefit dependency.