Monday, October 15, 2012

Hundreds Protest Welfare Attacks Across Aotearoa on October 5th

Hundreds of people across Aotearoa gathered outside WINZ offices last Friday, 5th October, to protest the Government’s viscous welfare attacks, with the second wave going through parliament, and the impementation of work testing of single mothers ,the sick and disabled due to come in this Monday, 15h October..

The call came out from single mothers in Dunedin, sparking a huge up-swelling of action from beneficiaries and friends across the country. There were protests in Kaikohe, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Hawkes Bay, Thames, Rotorua, Masterton, Carterton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and other places.

The Dunedin protest attracted 150 committed and angry people who carried a banner saying “ Stop Stealing from our Children” and “National Disgrace.” The Kaikohe protest was graced by the presence of Sam Kuha, hunger striker against WINZ’s  inhumane delays  and refusals  of food grants  urgently needed by hungry people.

The Auckland protest attracted about 100 people. It was organised by Waitemata Unite, together with the Collective NZ (a group of South Auckland artists) and others including intrepid campaigner Penny Bright.  At noon, we rallied at Henderson Square with colourful banners and placards, and marched with chants through the Henderson Streets to the amazement of the locals.
At WINZ we were greeted with a powhiri by Anna Henry from Te Wharewakaha o Haora , a wholistic healing centre which holds barbeques for about 40 children every Monday.

People and their children held up banners, listened with interest to the varied speakers, and joined in the discussion. Then we continued our march to the office of Paula Bennett, known as the Minister of Social Destruction (MSD).   Neither at WINZ or Ms Bennett’s was there any sign of life inside the buildings!  We were farewelled with a karakia from Anna before we dispersed.

The protest was attended by members of the Unite Union, Unite Waitemata, the Service and Food Workers Union, the Nurses Organisation, New Zealand Educational Institute,  Citizens Against Privatisation, the Water Pressure Group, Occupy Auckland, the Auckland Home Birth Support Group, Auckland Action Against Poverty,  The Glen Innes Housing Group, The Maori Party, The Mana Party, and the Green Party. We received messages of solidarity from Stand Up and the Freedom Socialists in Australia.
Chants included: “ 1234, Stop the War on the Poor”, “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Paula Bennett’s got to go”,  and “Welfare is under attack, Stand up Fight Back!”

A policewoman filmed the event for the entire three hours. Apart from that gross intrusion of privacy, police were polite and drove ahead of us so that we could march safely on the road. This was probably due to the large media presence. The national protests were reported and/or promoted amongst others on National Radio, Radio Live, Radio Waatea,  Maori TV,  TV1 News , the Christchurch Press, The Western Leader, and  the NZ  Herald.

It’s great to see beneficiaries uniting across the country, with support from unions and the community, and we look forward to more solidarity in the struggles ahead. With the world economic system  collapsing, we can expect more attacks to come!

No comments: