Sunday, November 20, 2016
Secretary's Report, 15 October 2016
Waitemata Branch of Unite Union
Secretary's Report 15th October 2016
By Keith Henderson
In last year's report I noted that the removal of Paula Bennett from both her former position as Minister of Social Development and from her former electorate had deprived Unite Waitemata of a focus for protesting her government's attacks on beneficiaries.
The fall off in our activity was expressed in a resolution to meet throughout 2016 only every two months, instead of monthly as previously. Instead our attention has been been increasingly directed towards the housing crisis, and we have been active participants in united front activities with other groups in the Hikoi for Homes, the national Housing Conference called by SHAN, in TAG's occupation of vacant "ghost houses" and the recent stand Up housing rally.
While our first attempts in SHAN to mobilize the west Auckland state tenants around the housing issue were discouraging, the situation has changed and is full of possibilities.
So grave has the crisis become that the media have at last found it newsworthy and there has been a growing public awareness of its implications. As property values appreciate at a rate several times faster than the median wage the spiraling rents- typically exceeding 50% of incomes-go uncontrolled by the income-related rent of a remnant of state houses, and home ownership becomes unattainable to a whole generation. There is a need for a united front of private sector and rental tenants to support one another in the struggle.
In an attempt to raise its profile in West Auckland the National Party has held a series of public meetings attended by Housing Ministers and Paula Bennett and Nick Smith, the Prime Minister John Key and his deputy Bill English and Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley.. It is thanks to Unite Waitemata's initiatives that only one of four such meetings has gone unprotested.